JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A Missouri state lawmaker from suburban St. Louis says he’ll appeal the more than $114,000 in fines he has been assessed for allegedly violating campaign finance laws, blaming the supposed misconduct on the theft of his debit card and campaign computer.
The Missouri Ethics Commission found that Democratic state Rep. Courtney Curtis of Berkeley kept at least 11 bank accounts for his re-election fund, potentially allowing him to use some of those donations for personal use, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The commission also said Curtis accepted cash donations in excess of state limits, deposited campaign contributions into a personal bank account and used campaign funds to pay for items already covered by the state.
Curtis has 45 days to file amended, updated records and pay 10 percent of the assessed fines $11,400. The remaining amount would be stayed, unless he commits further violations in the next two years.
On Tuesday, Curtis denied any wrongdoing, telling The Associated Press that someone who stole his and campaign laptop computer and his campaign debit card, using that to make unauthorized transactions, were to blame. He also cited “two major bank errors,” though he didn’t elaborate.
“Obviously, I was late filing reports, and I take responsibility for that,” said Curtis, whose 73rd House District encompasses St. Louis Lambert International Airport ad includes all or parts of Berkeley, Ferguson, Bridgeton and St. Ann.
“This will be appealed,” he added. “I have the option of paying 10 percent (of the assessed fines) and not have any campaign violations but I’d still rather correct the record first and see where I am.”
Curtis has faced ethics-related questions previously. In January 2016, he and a fellow Democratic state representative got in a fist fight in an alley outside of a Jefferson City bar. No charges were brought and no action was taken by the House Ethics Committee.
In 2016, three months after heading up hearings into election irregularities in St. Louis County, Curtis was fined for failing to file a report detailing how much money he has raised and spent in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 2 primary election.
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