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Failure to pay ethics fine could cost Bruce Franks about $75,000

Failure to pay ethics fine could cost Bruce Franks about $75,000

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After not making a payment in 10 months on a negotiated $14,000 fine, the Missouri Ethics Commission now contends that former Missouri Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. owes the state more than $89,000.

The state earlier this month filed suit against Franks, saying he's not made a payment on the lower fine that was negotiated last year.​

The suit, called a verified petition for collection, says Franks' failure to make a payment on the agreed-upon amount now causes the remaining $75,000 of the fine to be restored.

A summons issued Monday set a hearing date on the matter for Jan. 4 in Cole County Circuit Court.

​On Nov. 6, 2019, Franks agreed to the commission's finding that he used campaign donations for personal expenses and failed to file accurate campaign reports involving thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures.

The day after that agreement was signed, Franks signed another pact that required him to pay only $14,000 of the full $89,000 fine — provided that he made monthly payments of $250, beginning in January 2020.

The commission's complaint was filed by Assistant Attorney General Reed J. Rosenblum and verified by commission director Elizabeth L. Ziegler.

Franks does not dispute the lack of payments, but said he now plans to fight the commission's original finding.

"Not everyone who takes a plea bargain is guilty," Franks said by phone Monday. "But at the time, there was so many things going on that it was easier to just take the deal."

Franks said that after having had time to review the commission's records, he plans to challenge the ruling and says it was based on "false complaints."

Franks, an activist and community organizer, moved into the public eye in 2014 during the protests in Ferguson. 

He was first elected to the state Legislature in 2016, unseating incumbent Penny Hubbard. He was re-elected in 2018.

Also in 2018, Franks filed for bankruptcy. Then in 2019, television station KMOV reported there were discrepancies in time sheets submitted by Franks to a taxpayer-funded jobs agency where he worked.

Franks resigned his seat in May 2019, saying he needed to focus on his mental health and family issues.

Since then, Franks has remained in the public eye:

In January, a documentary about him, "St. Louis Superman," was nominated for an Oscar. On Monday, the Critics Choice Association announced that the film had won the group's annual award for best short documentary

In March, Franks posted a battle rap that lambasted St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson for her office's investigation of the time-sheet issues reported by KMOV.

Then in August, Franks was one of eight people arrested at a protest in Phoenix to commemorate the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, who was killed in August 2014 by a Ferguson police officer.

Franks filed a $2.4 million lawsuit against the city of Phoenix in September, claiming the charges from the Brown protest were political prosecution.

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