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story.lead_photo.caption James Klahr, Ethics Commission. Kile Brewer/News Tribune

Missouri Ethics Commission Director James Klahr soon will be the No. 2 person at the state Veterans Commission.

Klahr announced Monday he will become the Veterans Commission's deputy director on July 9.

His last day at the Ethics Commission is July 5.

"The (Ethics) Commission will consider the process for selecting a new Executive Director in the coming weeks," Klahr said in a statement. "I appreciate the dedication of the MEC staff to the goals of educating candidates and public officials, making campaign reports and lobbyist reports easily accessible to the public and enforcing the ethics laws.

"It has been my honor to serve as director for the past 4 years."

He told the News Tribune: "I look forward to working with the commissioners and staff at the Missouri Veterans Commission, to help carry out their mission," and declined to discuss his reasons for leaving one job for the other, or any specifics of his new position.

Klahr became the Ethics Commission's executive director in September 2013.

State law would have forced him to leave the job by September 2019, because the Ethics Commission's director can serve only one, six-year term.

In a January 2015 interview, Klahr told the News Tribune he wanted to see more efforts to educate the public about the Ethics Commission and its work because, "We are first and foremost a reporting agency (that accepts) most notably the campaign finance reports that the public hopefully is aware of."

Those reports are available on the commission's website, www.mec.mo.gov.

In comments on Twitter to Klahr's job-change announcement, former state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said: "James Klahr has done a good job for a long time."

Brad Ketcher, a St. Louis County-based lawyer who once served as then-Gov. Mel Carnahan's chief of staff, said: "James has been an exceptional director and leaves an impressive legacy at this important state agency."

And lobbyist Charles Andy Arnold tweeted: "James is an honest, hard working public official. Good luck sorting out the issues at the Mo Vets Commission."

Klahr will be joining a Veterans Commission that has been embroiled in controversy in recent years — most recently over operations of the St. Louis Veterans Home and the commission staff's handling of complaints and problems there.

Director Larry Kay resigned last December, after then-Gov. Eric Greitens appointed five new members to the commission.

National Guard Col. Grace Link then was hired as the interim director in December, and hired in April as the permanent director.

Before joining the Ethics Commission, Klahr was the Missouri Public Safety Department's legislative liaison from early 2009 until he took the MEC director's post.

He was an assistant attorney general from late-summer 1997 until moving to Public Safety in the early days of Jay Nixon's new administration as governor in 2009.

A St. Louis County native, Klahr told the News Tribune in 2015 that he left Missouri to go to college, then returned to the state in 1990, after graduating from Duke University in North Carolina.

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He spent a year with the Missouri Public Interest Research Group.

"I studied public policy when I was in college, so I always had an interest in government generally," Klahr said in a January 2015 interview.

He went to Atlanta for law school in 1991, graduated in 1994 — and returned to Missouri, taking a staff attorney's job for Senate Research in November 1994.

"When I was in law school, I did an internship with the AARP and did a little bit of work in the Georgia General Assembly — and that kind of gave me a taste of what it might be like to do some work in state government," he said in 2015.

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