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Former St. Louis state Rep. Bruce Franks fined $14k after probe into campaign spending

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JEFFERSON CITY — A former state representative from St. Louis must pay $14,169 after an investigation found he spent thousands of dollars from his campaign fund on personal expenses and failed to file accurate reports with Missouri ethics officials.

Bruce Franks Jr., who resigned in August, signed a consent order with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Thursday, agreeing to pay the state at least $250 a month until the fine is paid off. He may pay the fine personally or from his campaign account.

If the commission finds probable cause of other violations of state campaign finance law, Franks will have to pay the state $89,105, according to a copy of the consent order posted online on Thursday.

Franks did not respond to a request for comment.

The order said Franks made 28 transactions from October 2017 to December 2018 totaling $2,392 that “appeared to be for personal use.”

The spending included $74 at the Banfield Pet Hospital, $134 to Lil Angels Photography, $40 at the Hollywood Casino Hotel in Maryland Heights and multiple campaign checks written to Franks.

Only one purchase — a $33 payment to iTunes in November 2018 — was reported on campaign disclosure forms, according to the ethics commission.

Franks also made 10 cash expenditures that totaled $3,452 to “campaign workers, rental space, filing fees, lodging, and printings,” but state law limits cash spending to $50 per transaction.

Franks also accepted six cash contributions totaling $1,809 even though cash contributions are limited to $100.

Franks, according to the commission, also filed multiple erroneous campaign disclosure reports, inaccurately reporting how much money he had on hand in 20 reports over three years.

The ethics commission said Franks also failed to accurately report tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures.

Franks, an activist and community organizer, moved into the public eye in 2014 during protests in Ferguson. In 2016, he unseated incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, after suspicious absentee ballots in support of Hubbard sparked a re-do election.

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

Franks announced his resignation in May, citing a need to focus on his mental health and family.

In a special election Tuesday, voters elected Rasheen Aldridge to replace Franks in the Missouri House. The 78th House District covers downtown St. Louis, including areas of north and south St. Louis along the riverfront.

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