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Missouri state Rep. Curtis fined for possible campaign finance violations; he says he'll appeal

State Rep. Courtney Curtis says policymakers should have been making developing north St. Louis County a priority from the beginning.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley, is accused of violating state campaign finance laws.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. — Missouri state Rep. Courtney Curtis is blaming two thefts and bank errors for campaign-finance problems that prompted the Missouri Ethics Commission to fine him more than $114,000.

Curtis, a Democrat from Berkeley, says he is appealing the commission’s allegations, which were issued Friday, that he violated various campaign finance laws and improperly used some campaign money for personal expenses.

Curtis said he rejected a proposed settlement that would allow him to pay only 10 percent of the fine, wanting instead to clear his name.

Curtis has 15 days to formally appeal, according to James Klahr, the commission’s executive director. The fine won’t be imposed while the appeals process is underway.

Klahr told St. Louis Public Radio the fine is the largest proposed by the panel in two years.

Much of the fine centers on $55,000 in alleged donations that the commission said Curtis reported late. He admits filing some reports late, but says the donations at issue were a fraction of the $55,000 cited.

The commission also points to 11 bank accounts that Curtis set up in recent years, apparently involving campaign money. Curtis said the multiple accounts were the result of errors by the bank and that records will show that no money was misspent.

The primary problems stem from two thefts, Curtis said. The first: His debit card was stolen two years ago and used for about $1,000 in unauthorized purchases.

“Secondly, my campaign laptop with all of my financial records was stolen two summers ago,’’ Curtis said. “And since then, I’ve been basically waiting to clear everything up.”

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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