ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–If you see flames leaping from the mailboxes in south St. Louis, it’s not the heat — it’s just the latest political ads in the race for city treasurer.
In the four-way Democratic primary, two of the candidates — Brian Wahby and Fred Wessels — have been tossing incendiary mailers at each other in recent weeks.
Wessel’s latest mailer tells voters that Wahby was the alleged co-conspirator in a 1993 federal voting fraud case here. Wahby was not charged with any crime, but in sworn testimony he was accused of having helped a stalking horse candidate run for comptroller to take away votes from another candidate.
“Brian Wahby secretly funneled money to Penny Alcott to help with her living expenses during the course of the campaign, as well as pay for a filing fee,” Wessels said, “I think it goes to character. Brian Wahby and two others were right in the middle of this. They were the instigators.”
Wahby says he did nothing wrong.
“Twenty years ago, I was a kid in politics,” Wahby said, “A lot of big guys in town got in trouble and I didn’t, because I did nothing wrong. What we’ve got to stop doing in this town is talking about the past.”
Wessel’s character comes under attack in Wahby’s latest mailer. It accuses Wessels of using “insider knowledge” from city hall to buy houses on the cheap and flip them for “huge profits.”
“The bottom line is an alderman in his position whose job it is to oversee the land bank shouldn’t be making withdrawals from the land bank, and buying property and personally benefiting to the tune of tens-of-thousands of dollars,” Wahby said.
Wessels responds that he used no “insider knowledge,” but rather purchased houses that were publicly advertised at back taxes auctions.
“The profit was a relatively small amount of money, because we had substantial rehab costs,” Wessels said.
But Wahby claims there is no record of Wessels obtaining building permits that would be required to legally rehab the houses.
Wessels says he did comply with the law.
“We got permits for everything that needed a permit,” Wessels said, “and every house was inspected by a city inspector before it was sold.”
With less than a week to go before the August 7 primary, Mayor Slay endorsed Wessels this week.
Wahby and Wessels are running against Alderman Jeffery Boyd and State Representative Tishaura Jones.