Ethics Commission fines Restore the Pride group

By EVAN YOUNG

The Missouri Ethics Commission has fined the Committee to Restore the Pride and its former treasurer for not reporting late campaign contributions and for failing to file a timely post-election finance report.

In a consent order handed down Sept. 14, the commission fined the committee and former Treasurer Jack Jordan a total of $2,000.

The commission’s order states if the respondents pay $200 of the fine, it will stay the remainder of the fee for two years. The respondents will not have to pay the rest of the fine if they do not violate campaign finance laws during the two-year period, according to the consent order.

The decision is in response to two ethics complaints that were filed with the commission in February against Restore the Pride, which campaigned last fall for Proposition C, an 88-cent tax-rate increase proposal for the Mehlville School District that voters defeated in the Nov. 2 election.

Current committee Treasurer Tom Diehl said Jordan volunteered to pay the $200 even though he served as the group’s treasurer in name only. The committee’s organizational statement formally was amended in March to make Diehl — who has been handling the group’s finances — its treasurer.

“Jack wrote the check himself. He just wanted to get the thing settled and done,” Diehl told the Call. “We had offered to pay it, but he chose to do it himself.”

Jordan said Monday the Ethics Commission has informed him the case is “closed.”

“This thing has upset me,” Jordan said. “All I was trying to do was help the Mehlville School District.”

He added, “The Ethics Commission has everything from me entirely — a complete breakdown, written out, about what transpired.”

Diehl said in February that Jordan “agreed to serve as treasurer in name because of his name recognition. None of us have any intention of dumping anything on Jack’s lap because that wasn’t his role.”

Under state law, campaign committees must file a report no later than 30 days after an election detailing all financial activity for the period ending 25 days after the election.

A stipulation of facts available on the commission’s website states that “(t)here is probable cause to believe” the Committee to Restore the Pride violated campaign finance law by failing to file a timely 30-day-after-election report.

The deadline for campaign committees to file a post-Nov. 2 election finance report was Dec. 2. The county election board received Restore the Pride’s 30-day-after report on March 29.

The stipulation also states that Restore the Pride did not file notices for 13 late campaign contributions totaling $11,200. The contributions were received after the closing date for the required eight-day-before-election report but prior to the Nov. 2 election, according to the stipulation.

The 13 contributions, which were listed in the group’s 30-day-after report, include: $3,400 from the Mehlville Principals Association; $500 from former Mehlville school board member and former Mehlville Fire Protection District board member Dave Gralike; $500 from Edward Wassall; $500 from Goodwin Brothers construction company; $300 from former Mehlville Superintendent John Cary; $500 from JC Fence LLC and $1,000 from the Electrical Workers Voluntary Political Fund.

Also: $500 from the Building Trades Political Education Fund; $500 from the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562; $1,000 from the district’s law firm, Kohn, Shands, Elbert, Gianoulakis & Giljum; $1,500 from HVAC company Trane; $500 from Waterhout Construction and $500 from Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 36.

Restore the Pride still has an estimated $10,000 in debt to pay and is “trying to raise money to do that so we can close it down as soon as possible,” Diehl said.

The committee is “asking for contributions from people who were supportive of Prop C” and has raised roughly $7,000 so far, he said.

Copies of the two ethics complaints — with the name of the filer redacted — were provided to the Call in February by the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, the group that opposed and campaigned against Prop C. The group said at the time that it did not author the complaints but supported them being filed with the Ethics Commission.