Ben Hurst left the private law firm Graves Garrett to become assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri in November. He said he resigned from the Clean Water Commission because the two roles aren't "compatible."

Ben Hurst resigned from the Missouri Clean Water Commission in order to eliminate potential conflicts with his new job as an assistant U.S. attorney, where he has worked since November.

Commission Chair Ashley McCarty announced at the commission’s meeting Wednesday that Hurst had stepped aside from the commission, where he served as vice chair since January 2018. The seven-member commission now has two vacant seats.

Hurst, whose father Blake Hurst is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, left the law firm Graves Garrett after almost three years. Todd Graves, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, is a partner at Graves Garrett.

Hurst said he appreciated being on the commission and that it was an honor to serve.

“I wish I could have kept doing it, I just didn’t think it was compatible,” Hurst said, declining to say why the two roles weren’t compatible.

The commission has seen a lot of turnover recently. Since 2017, nine commissioners have left their seats. The only remaining commissioner who was appointed by a governor before Gov. Eric Greitens is Ashley McCarty, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2013.

Hurst is the first commissioner to step down during the administration of Gov. Mike Parson, who took over in June 2018. He was appointed by Greitens in 2017, and first participated at the commission’s October meeting that year. Hurst was the third of six members Greitens appointed in 2017. John Reece, Stan Coday and Pat Thomas still serve on the commission, while Jim Howerton and John Kliebocker were both gone by the end of 2017.

Aside from Howerton and Kliebocker, six other commissioners left in 2017, leaving behind a combined 42 years of experience. Todd Parnell, who had served since 2007, left in July of 2017. Sam Leake left in April of 2017 after serving since June of 2009. Buddy Bennett and John Cowherd also both left in April after serving since early 2012. Wallis Warren and Dennis Wood, who both started in 2011, left in November of 2017.

Parson’s spokesperson, Kelli Jones, said in an email that the governor is aware of the two vacancies, but did not say when he planned to nominate new commissioners.

bcrowley@gatehousemedia.com