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The Klan's Mr. Clean Gets Dirty

Michael A. Cuffley, chief architect of the Klan's Adopt-A-Highway efforts in Missouri was arrested and faces charges of burglary and stealing by deceit.

As unit coordinator for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan's Realm of Missouri, he worked hard to tidy up the group's reputation. But now, Michael A. Cuffley's own alleged dirty doings have caught up with him. The chief architect of the Klan's Adopt-A-Highway efforts in Missouri was returned to that state in June to face charges of burglary and stealing by deceit.

After skipping his December 1999 court date, Cuffley, 42, made for Florida, ending up in the resort town of Fort Walton Beach. So he had to watch from afar as his Klan's Adopt-A-Highway signs went up, and subsequently were torn down — twice — by incensed passersby.

The Klan, which had sued to have the signs put up in the first place, threatened further litigation after the Missouri Transportation Department declared it wouldn't replace the signs again.

The highway cleanup program hasn't been Cuffley's only attempt at refining the Klan's image. In 1998, he tried to underwrite National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" for a St. Louis public radio station — with an eye toward recruiting from the program's more educated audience. A federal magistrate ruled that the university-run station could refuse his request.

Florida police discovered Cuffley after accompanying furniture store workers to retrieve rented furniture that he hadn't returned.

Noticing Cuffley's KKK and Confederate flag tattoos, arresting officer Bill Royal conducted a record check. He found that Cuffley was wanted in St. Louis for burglarizing a house and for taking a homeowner's money without fulfilling a commitment to install windows.