The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 5, 2013

Missouri Ethics Commission finds fault with Neosho committee

By Roger McKinney

NEOSHO, Mo. — The Missouri Ethics Commission this week issued a ruling against Citizens for Growth treasurer Gene Schwartz, citing him for campaign finance violations related to last year’s Neosho City Council election.

The committee had provided financial backing for three unsuccessful candidates for the Neosho City Council election in April 2012.

Schwartz, of Neosho, at the time of last year’s Neosho City Council election, was chairman of the Neosho Transportation Development District Board of Directors.

Schwartz could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The ruling was in the form of a consent order, agreed to between Schwartz and the Missouri Ethics Commission. The order imposes a penalty of $3,000, unless Schwartz pays $300 within 45 days of the April 2 order. If the $300 is paid, the remaining penalty would be stayed unless he violates further campaign finance laws within two years.

The order states Citizens for Growth formed as a committee on March 16, 2012, when it spent $866.80 for yard signs. Schwartz failed to form the committee more than 60 days before the April 3, 2012, city election, as state law requires.

The statement of committee organization was filed on April 20, 2012, which was after the election.

Schwartz also failed to file campaign finance reports by their deadlines, or a quarterly report due on April 16, 2012.

The committee spent $2,606.74 in support of candidate Michael Franks; $656.54 supporting candidate Bill Crowe; and $383.53 supporting candidate Andrew Hamby, but failed to disclose any of the spending in a timely manner.

“There is probable cause to believe that respondents Schwartz and Citizens for Growth violated (state law) by failing to timely file a statement of committee organization, failing to accurately file a statement of committee organization, participating in an election less than 60 days after becoming a continuing committee and failing to timely file three campaign finance reports, and the respondents Schwartz and Citizens for Growth did so knowingly,” the order reads.

Campaign committee

The Missouri Ethics Commission order states Gene Schwartz incorrectly formed the committee as a campaign committee, rather than a continuing committee.