Embattled former House speaker to leave politics

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | 9:24 p.m. CST; updated 11:27 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — On the same day state lawmakers convene for the upcoming legislative session, one of their former colleagues is scheduled to be arraigned for a felony.

Former House Speaker Rod Jetton was charged Monday with second-degree assault. On Tuesday, his attorney, Steve Wilson, announced Jetton will be closing his political consulting firm, Rod Jetton & Associates, and leaving politics.

"He will be leaving politics to deal with false allegations and spend time with his family," Wilson said of Jetton in a statement. Jetton and his wife agreed to a divorce settlement in October.

Jetton turned himself in to law enforcement officials late Monday and was released early Tuesday. His case has drawn national attention.

Wilson's statement said Jetton believes he will be found innocent, but "Jetton feels that right now he can best help his clients, former employees and family by closing the doors of his consulting company."

According to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday, Jetton hit, choked and had intercourse with a Sikeston woman in November, leaving her with bruises. He later said she should have said "green balloons" — the term they had agreed to say if either of them wanted to stop the sex, the probable cause statement said.

Prior to the news of Jetton's plans to close his consulting firm, one former client reacted to the charges.

Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, was listed as a client on the Web site of Jetton's consulting firm before the site went offline sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. The listing of clients also included Republican leaders such as House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, and Majority Whip Brian Nieves, R-Washington.

Mayer said he ceased paying Jetton for services in late 2008.

"I felt Rod was a man of good character," Mayer said about his early impression of Jetton. Mayer and Jetton joined the Missouri legislature as representatives in 2001.

Mayer said he will "rely on the judicial system to take care of" determining Jetton's guilt.

According to Capt. John Wheeler of the Cole County Sheriff's Department, Jetton is free on $2,500 bail. He was released at 12:25 a.m. Tuesday after he turned himself over to authorities at the Cole County Jail in Jefferson City at 11:53 p.m. Monday.

Jetton will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Jan. 6 in front of Scott County Associate Circuit Court Judge Scott Horman.

A Marine and the son of a Baptist pastor, Jetton first was elected to the House in 2000 and played a key role in the Republican takeover in the 2002 elections. He endorsed "personal responsibility" and pledged to protect "traditional family values" after colleagues elected him as House speaker in 2005.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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