The Missouri Ethics Commission has determined that I could either have a full hearing in Jefferson City on September 24th on the proposed violation or pay a $200 fine. Since the cost of taking a lawyer to a hearing in Jeff City is far greater than the $200 fine…it seemed to be the best option.
The commission’s preliminary ruling back in May was that our petition was actually a “Ballot Measure” which would require us to have a campaign finance committee, depository account and treasurer. I pointed out that the our petition specifically was an ordinance and had no ballot language or any material which would make it anything other than an ordinance by petition. But they determined it was still necessary to become a committee.
I also showed the Commission that the city actually argued in Federal courts that they were not required to put anything on the ballot no matter how many signatures we turned in. I asked how could a petition be a ballot measure if the city claims they were not required to put it on the ballot? Several months went by and the commission notified me that my options were to have a full hearing or just settle the case.
Again, $200 appeared to be a much better option than a day in Jeff City arguing about whether we had a petition or a ballot measure.
The document that I signed stated that if I make any other mistakes regarding campaign finance over the next two years then they will charge me an additional $1800. Oh, and I have to legally change my name to Brian The Unethical. Just kidding!
On a side note, I have worked with various people at the Mo Ethics Commission over the past year and I’d like to share that all of them were very helpful and friendly. Often times when you are dealing with government you get the impression that they are uncaring toward your specific situation, however, in this case it was just the opposite. They helped me fill out all the forms to create the campaign committee so I could be in compliance with the law they were wanting me to be in compliance with. They checked my quarterly reports before I filed them to make sure that my information was properly recorded. They really did make the effort as pleasant as possible given the situation and for that I’m very thankful.