A state senator from Des Moines is pleading not guilty to extortion charges.
Senator Matt McCoy, a 40-year-old Democrat, is accused of threatening to derail a security firm’s state contract.
McCoy, with his lawyer at his side, spoke with reporters outside the federal courthouse. "Today was the first step in a process that we hope will reveal all the facts and we can be vindicated in every way," McCoy said. "I’m looking forward to having this behind me. I’m looking forward to having my day in court."
According to the indictment, McCoy helped "Security Plus" become a vendor for the Iowa Department of Human Services, but when the company failed to pay him McCoy allegedly threatened to get their contract with the state cancelled. Prosecutors have taped conversations between McCoy and his former business partner. "I guess I wasn’t surprised and my reaction is I think the conversations will help unravel the whole mystery as to how this all got started," McCoy said. "I’m looking forward to hearing those."
As for his future in politics, McCoy concedes it hinges on the outcome of the case. "I’ve got to get this behind me. I’ve got to be vindicated. I’ve got to have my day in court," McCoy said. "I think I have a right to prove I’m innocent and I’m looking forward to that and from that perspective, I think we’ll make our political decisions based upon whatever we want to do in the future after we get this behind us."
According to McCoy, he’s gotten no pressure from fellow legislators to step down or remove himself from certain committees. "I’ve found my colleagues to be very understanding," McCoy said. "I’ve found my colleagues to be very committed to the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’"
McCoy has maintained he did nothing criminal and the dispute is merely a business deal gone awry. "This was a business relationship. It was a contractual agreement and it was a dispute in the contractural agreement," McCoy told reporters Thursday afternoon. "That’s all."
If convicted, McCoy faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as a quarter million dollars. McCoy told his eight-year-old son the details last night. "He was very, very understanding, obviously concerned," McCoy said. "…He’s got a big Little League season ahead of him and at the same time a big soccer season ahead of him and summer can’t come fast enough for him — or me, either."
You can listen to McCoy’s statements outside the courthouse by clicking on the audio link below.