Powerful Missouri political consultant David Barklage indicted on tax fraud charge

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David Barklage, a longtime Missouri political consultant and lobbyist, was indicted last week in federal court on a felony tax fraud charge.

Prosecutors alleged in a charging document they unsealed Thursday that Barklage did not report $443,633 of income on his tax returns between 2012 and 2014.

He earned nearly half the money from a political campaign during those years, prosecutors say. He earned $30,000 of it from lobbying in 2013 and $122,580 from “an independent media producer” in 2012. He owes a total of $151,843 in taxes on the unreported income.

If convicted, Barklage faces up to a $100,000 fine and up to three years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court Friday morning in St. Louis.

He could not immediately be reached for comment. Taylon Sumners, one of his attorneys, said Barklage maintains his innocence in the “personal tax matter” and will plead not guilty.

Barklage has maintained a presence in Missouri politics for more than 30 years, including leading campaign committees in the 1990s that helped Republicans regain control of the General Assembly for the first time in half a century.

His LinkedIn page describes him as “one of the most winning consultants in the Midwest” — boasting that he has managed or consulted for more than 300 candidates and issue campaigns. He also has held elected office himself, serving two terms as a city council member in Cape Girardeau.

He was co-founder, along with Gov. Mike Parson’s now-deputy chief of staff Robert Knodell, of the St. Louis-area consulting firm Barklage & Knodell. Parson recently appointed Knodell acting director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, after the governor asked for the former director Dr. Randall Williams to resign. Barklage also operates his own firm.

The indictment did not detail which firms the payments were tied to, but alleged he deposited the money into his personal bank accounts, not his business ones.

Barklage has been a consultant to Uniting Missouri, a PAC supportive of Parson. He also has connections to Missourians for Healthcare, a pro-Medicaid expansion group.

He was a key aide to former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, though the two parted ways in 2016 when Kinder ran for governor.