August 14, 2007 at 12:28 AM CDT - Updated July 26 at 9:55 AM
State Rep. Submits Letter of Resignation By: Heartland News
It's now official. Missouri House Representative Nathan Cooper of Cape Girardeau is resigning.
Cooper submitted his resignation in a letter Tuesday morning. It will take effect at 5:00 p.m.
Cooper wrote "I hereby resign my position in the House of Representatives for the 158th district, effective at 5 p.m."
In a fax to Heartland News Cooper stated, "It has been a privilege and honor to represent the people of Cape Girardeau in the General Assembly. I offer my deepest apologies to all that have been affected as to how actions in my private legal career have led to my resignation from the Missouri House of Representatives."
Last week Cooper pleaded guilty to immigration fraud charges. More specifically, he admitted to getting phony temporary work visas for his trucking company clients.
Cooper's resignation will be followed by a special election to fill the vacancy. Each political party central committee selects a candidate.
Cemocrats in Cape Girardeau County see an opportunity to take a house seat away from Republicans.
"We believe we can field a very strong candidate. We believe we can make this race a squeaker and that's our goal. That's what we're going to try to do," said Brenda Woemmel, the chair of the Democratic Central Committee.
Woemmel would not reveal names of any potential democratic candidates, but former Cape Girardeau postmaster Mike Keefe says he may be interested.
Cooper will be sentenced in October.
He could get get 15 years in prison, and he has to pay back the legal fees he took from clients. He'll also give up his law license.
By: Associated Press
Days before Missouri House member Nathan Cooper pleaded guilty to fraud charges, he ordered a transfer of campaign funds.
The move appears to prevent the return of the $66,000 to the 130 donors who gave it to the Cape Girardeau Republican.
Cooper ordered campaign treasurer Victor Gunn to dissolve his campaign committee.
He also instructed Gunn to pay all outstanding bills and to transfer the remaining money to another campaign committee. Gunn tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he would have refused to transfer the money if he'd known of Cooper's legal troubles.
The law dictates that the committee give the money only to other campaign committees, the state treasury, or to charity. Gunn said the money should go back to the donors.
Gunn also is upset because most of the transferred money was collected a little over a month ago, at a fundraiser that Cooper held for his political campaign. At the time, Cooper already was dealing in private with federal investigators from the U.S. attorney's office.