Campaign ethics violations alleged surrounding Question 5

A complaint has been filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission against the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. Vernon Howard, and the KC 4 DR. MLK JR BLVD National Coalition.

The complaint alleges the group violated Missouri Election Law violations by advancing a no vote on Question 5 that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The complaint, filed by one of the original Save The Paseo petitioners, alleges that no “paid-for-by” disclosure statement exists on campaign flyers and yard signs being distributed by the group.

A campaign flyer secured by The Northeast News does not show the required disclaimer on either side of the campaign piece (photos, front and back, of flyer below).

According to Missouri election law, “any pamphlets circular, handbill, sample ballot, advertisement, sign, or other imprinted or lettered material that is relative to candidates or ballot measures must contain the proper ‘paid for by’ disclaimer.”

According to Elizabeth Ziegler, executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission, complaints of this nature are all handled the same way.

By state law, Ziegler could not comment on any complaints received, but she did indicate that when a complaint is received, it is reviewed internally to see if it the complaint has validity.

“We review the complaint and if it has merit, it is assigned to an investigator,” said Ziegler.

The flyer in question also displays a list of elected officials and logos of entities backing a no vote on question 5, electing to retain the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. designation.

One elected official, Councilwoman Andrea Bough, indicated that she had not taken a public stance on the issue and was not aware that her name was used in any campaign literature.

Additionally, some of the entities with logos displayed on the brochure did not give permission for their image to be used to support the initiative.

The Northeast News called Dr. Vernon Howard, spokesperson for the SCLC, for comment and he hung the phone. When we called back, the call went straight to voicemail.

A message was left seeking comment on the ethics complaint but we have received no response from the SCLC nor Dr. Howard at the time of our deadline.

Kellie Jones, a Save The Paseo campaign volunteer, said she wants the process to be fair for everyone.

“I got involved on an issue that mattered and we made sure we did it the right way,” she stated.  “Policies and rules are in place for a reason and they should be followed by all the parties involved.”

Daine Euston, a spokesperson for Save The Paseo, agrees.

“We’re primarily concerned about people being disenfranchised out of the process and being misled,” Euston said. “The whole idea was to put this back in the voters hands where it belongs.”

A decision on the complaint will be made by the Ethics Commission within 90 days and the outcome will be posted on the commission’s website.

 

 

 

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