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Quarter of Board of Aldermen Have Not Filed Required Campaign Reports

October 18, 2006 Ald Jennifer Florida, Local Business 9 Comments

A full 25% of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen have not filed required campaign finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission, as of 10:45am today. I double checked the seven that have not filed and the Missouri Ethics Commission does not show any reports received but not yet scanned. The reports were due October 15th which translates to October 16th since the 15th was on a Sunday.

The following are the aldermen that have not filed the required reports, all are Democrats (that is a joke, btw, since we only have one Republican elected to office in the City of St. Louis):

•Charles Quincy Troupe — 1st Ward
•April Ford-Griffin — 5th Ward
•Lewis Reed — 6th Ward (Reed has two committees at this point – one for alderman and one for president of the board, neither committee has filed the required reports)
•Jennifer Florida — 15th Ward
•Terry Kennedy — 18th Ward (Kennedy is up for re-election in 2007)
•Frank Williamson — 26th Ward (Wiliamson is up for re-election in 2007)
•Lyda Krewson — 28th Ward (Krewson is up for re-election in 2007)

More to follow in the next week, after I’ve had a chance to download and review all the reports that have been filed up to that point.

Related prior post: July 27 — A detailed look at Campaign Finance Reports.


UPDATE 10/18/06 @ Noon:

Ald. Lyda Krewson emailed me to indicate they mailed their reports on 10/13. Krewson also indicated she talked with the folks in Jeff City that said they just received some mail this morning postmarked 10/10 & 10/111 (and presumably Krewson’s dated 10/13?). This is somewhat different than Publiceye’s assertion that the Missouri Ethics Commission is behind on opening mail. I’m much more likely to believe that the US Postal Service is slow. Krewson indicates she will send future reports via FedEx to avoid this anxiety over timeliness.

Electronic filing is an option that aldermen should consider. I will check back to the state site throughout the afternoon to see if new reports for these seven have been received today. Part of the problem we have, as the public, is knowing if a report was postmarked on time or not. If the Missouri Ethics is backed up they will indicate a report has been received but not yet scanned — and here they will indicate the postmark. Most often I find they go right to being a scanned report with only the date it was received by the office and the date scanned — the same day. So, all seven reports may arrive today and be scanned today but because of their reporting system I will be unable to distinguish, online, between those that were mailed on or before the 14th and those that may have been mailed or send via overnight after the deadline.


UPDATE 10/18/06 @ 2pm:

The Missouri Ethics Commission does not show any changes for the above seven. The potential existed for them to have received a report but not yet scanned it into their system for public consumption but none of these where so marked.


UPDATE 10/18/06 @ 8:55pm:

At 4pm this afternoon two reports were indicated as having been received but not yet scanned: one was for Ald. Lyda Krewson and the other for Ald. Lewis Reed’s committee running for the President of the Board of Aldermen. Both show as being postmarked on Monday, October 16, 2006. Per the Missouri Ethics Commission, these are technically late. At 8:15pm I check all seven again just to see if any additional changes had been made after 4pm. The other five remain unchanged but now the two reports, one from Krewson and one from Reed, are scanned and available for review. At the moment both are still showing in the received but not yet scanned section as well along with the postmark date of 10/16/06 (I have saved both pages as PDF files and may post if necessary).

The Missouri Ethics Commission website does not yet show a report for the aldermanic committee for Lewis Reed which remains an active and open account. It should probably be converted to a debt account, if possible. Ald. Krewson’s report is of course quite orderly and includes a cover letter dated 10/12/2006. This date would collaborate her contention that it was mailed the following day, on the 13th which would make it a timely filing. Still the Missouri Ethics Commission says it was not postmarked until the 16th, making it a late filing.

We’ve got a couple of issues at play here. First, some aldermen are habitually late, sometimes 2-3 weeks. That is quite a different issue than mailing it at a slow post office or even on the actual due date rather than prior to the due date as required. Habitually late and rarely late is the separator here. Krewson is consistently ontime, at least back through 2004. Reed, on the other hand, is either on time or really really late.

But the big issue is the information the Missouri Ethics Commission provides, or more accurately, doesn’t provide. Once a report is filed we know the date is was received and the date it was scanned. Almost always these are the same date. What is missing is the piece of information that determines whether a filed report is timely or not — the postmark date. How is it this information is not part of their reporting? If you agree this is relevant information that should be part of the public record online and thus not requiring a phone call to verify the postmark date, please email the Missouri Ethics Commission at [email protected].

One final thing, just an observation. While it may be a coincidence that Krewson held her big fundraiser on October 2nd I think the date was no accident. A week earlier and the activity would have been required on the report just submitted. But, no regular quarterly report is due in January so her next report is the 40 day before election report, not due until January 25, 2007 (that would be with a postmark of 1/24/07 if you are doing the math). Either way, this is after filing closes if anyone is considering challenging her they do so not really knowing how much money she raised a couple of weeks ago. Come January 1st contribution limits get tossed the window so someone that gave the maximum of $325 can come back and give considerably more prior to the election. Very smart that Lyda is.

UPDATE 10/20/06 @ 10:15am:

As of yesterday afternoon after 5pm only one change was noted. The Missouri Ethics Commission received the quarterly report from the campaign for Jennifer Florida. However, it was noted as having a bad [unreadable] postmark.

This leaves the following as not yet having submitted reports: Ald. Lewis Reed’s aldermanic campaign committee, Ald Troupe, Ald. Ford-Griffin, Ald. Kennedy, and Ald. Williamson. Five out of twenty-eight, or just under 18%. Reed is now officially running for the President of the Board of Aldermen in 2007. Also in 2007, Ald. Kennedy and Ald. Williamson are up for re-election. I’m guessing they won’t file their intent to seek office again after the deadline.

 

Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. publiceye says:

    You’re a day or two early, Mr. Bird.

    To be considered as filed “timely” for this period, the campaign finance reports need only be postmarked on or before October 16, 2006.

    Right?

    [UR — Wrong! That is a common misconception, I would have thought you’d know better. From the Missouri Ethics website:

    If the last day to file a report with the Ethics Commission or other appropriate officer other than the Ethics
    Commission, falls on a Saturday, Sunday or an official state holiday, the deadline for filing is extended to 5:00
    p.m. on the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or official holiday. Any report mailed to the Ethics
    Commission must be postmarked prior to the due date to be considered timely filed.

    So I am not a day or two early, these seven are a day or two behind. The last acceptable postmark prior to the deadline would have been Saturday the 14th. This postmark requirement was noted, BTW, on my post from July 27th.]

     
  2. publiceye says:

    LOL. I don’t think I am wrong.

    ” . . . the deadline for filing is extended to 5:00 p.m. on the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or official holiday”

    . . . which would be October 16, 2006.

    You could verify this by calling the Missouri Ethics Commission. And while you have them on the line, be sure to ask them what DATE’s mail they are currently opening. Ten minutes ago, they were opening October 10’s mail.

    BTW, you can also check aldermanic campaign finance reports at the St. Louis Board of Elections.

    [UR — Again, their website clearly indicates the postmark must be prior to the deadline — that is, reports postmarked on the 16th would not be timely. Those marked on the 14th would be timely. A number of reports received and scanned by the Ethics Commission indicate they were signed & sent in on the 13th (Friday) and yet managed to be opened and scanned on the 16th. I’m not sure how that is possible if they are just now getting to mail from the 10th.

    Furthermore, they have a section where they indicate if a report has been received by them but not yet scanned for review. None of the seven, at the time I checked, listed any such receipts.]

     
  3. publiceye says:

    Lots of reports. Few staffers.

    The Missouri Ethics Commission is really clear about this: a report postmarked before the due date (5xx pm, October 16, 2006) is filed timely.

    They won’t post “received, but not scanned” reports until they open the envelopes — and they are currently opening envelopes from October 10 or so.

    Call them.

    [UR I did just speak to the Missouri Ethics Commission. They are not at all behind in opening their mail, as you are indicating. The person I spoke with said they receive mail twice per day with most coming in the afternoon. All mail that is received is opened and stamped received that day — the person responsible is not permitted to leave until that is done. So, no, they are not just now opening mail they received on the 10th. If something is postmarked on the 10th and just now received that is not the fault of the Missouri Ethics Commission.

    I will follow up and report on the actual post mark dates of the reports, once they are received. This will require another phone call to them as this information is not indicated online. ]

    [UR — Furthermore, you still appear to be confused on the deadline issue. Yes, they are quite clear. The report must be postmarked PRIOR to the deadline. With a deadline of 5pm on the 16th a postmark on the 16th is late — not timely. This is not the IRS where you can postmark on the date due — it must be PRIOR. Got it?]

     
  4. The Potato says:

    Ethics Schmethics.

     
  5. jeff707 says:

    Steve – don’t you think they meant prior to the deadline, aka, before 5:00 pm that day?

     
  6. jeff says:

    Further, what’s the point of moving the deadline if date falls on a weekend if you can’t do anything on the new, presumably acceptable, date?

    [UR — I don’t make the rules people, I just call back to clarify. Once again, the postmark deadline is the date prior to the deadline. Prior to, not the day of.

    The Missouri Ethics Commission stated that in two places in the state, presumably the main post offices in St. Louis & Kansas City, you can actually get a Sunday postmark. So that would be the point of moving the deadline until Monday. Items can be sent via overnight on a Sunday and arrive timely on Monday.]

     
  7. Ok.

    Campaign finance reports are the only information on public record which indicate what individuals/PAC’s fund campaigns. Those who fund campaigns have considerable influence over the candidate. It is important for the public to know what organizations influence public policy decisions.

    Filing these reports late may seem to be a minor issue, yet if the policies are not enforced then perhaps they could go unfilled. This creates a dangerous precedent as the public would be completely unable determine the agenda of the candidate. I can understand mistakes or delays but with the option of filing online there is little excuse.

     
  8. publiceye says:

    UR is correct. To support his position, I post the applicable state statute:

    “8. Disclosure reports shall be filed with the appropriate officer not later than 5:00 p.m. prevailing local time of the day designated for the filing of the report and a report postmarked not later than midnight of the day previous to the day designated for filing the report shall be deemed to have been filed in a timely manner. The appropriate officer may establish a policy whereby disclosure reports may be filed by facsimile transmission.”

    I do not think that “arrive timely” matters as long as a report is “postmarked timely.”

    BUT, do not take my post as gospel. There’s a good reason I don’t work on the Finance and Reporting ends of campaigns.

    [UR – Thank you for the acknowledgment and supporting reference. Agreed on the postmark vs arrived issue. The Missouri Ethics Commission is failing to report the relevant information with the reports posted online — arrival date does not tell us if the report was timely or not. This is something they need to correct.]

     
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