JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri politicians are spending thousands of dollars in campaign funds without clearly identifying what they are buying.
The practice, which could allow them to illegally spend money on personal items unrelated to their political ambitions, is discouraged by state ethics regulators, who say campaign fund spending should be reported in detail.
At issue are Democratic and Republican Party candidates who pay for items with a campaign credit card. While some note exactly what the money was spent on, such as a plane ticket, others are less specific.
For example, St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer, who defeated Sally Faith earlier this year, listed a payment to his credit card company for $8,344 with no explanation of how it was spent.
Borgmeyer said he was unaware of the payment, but said it could be related to a fundraiser he held at a golf course. He told the Post-Dispatch he would fix the problem.
“I will amend my report so it is absolutely clear,” Borgmeyer said.
Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, reported paying more than $13,000 to a credit card company this year, but his explanation for the purpose of those bills was vague. An April expense says a $2,866 bill went to food, gas and memberships.
Other expenses listed by Hoskins, a certified public accountant, include credit card payments for hotels, an unspecified donation and advertising.
And, Rep. Warren Love, a St. Clair County Republican, paid his credit card company multiple payments totaling $1,077 this year, but only lists the purpose as “auto expense,” making it unclear whether he’s paying a car lease, buying fuel or getting repairs.
That type of reporting is discouraged by the Missouri Ethics Commission.
“Candidates are advised to list the required details of the actual expenditures made (as opposed to payment to a credit card company),” the MEC wrote in a 2007 opinion.
In the case of candidates who file vague reports, the commission could contact the candidates and require them to file amended reports that more fully explain what they are spending their money on.
The commission also could launch an investigation if someone files a complaint against a candidate.
Or, if the commission flags a discrepancy in a candidate’s report during periodic reviews, it could audit the campaign committee.
Note: Following a review, this story was updated to remove references to candidate Jolie Justus' credit card payments.