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MO Dems to pay $20,000 fine in campaign case


Washington, DC – The Missouri Democratic Party has been fined $20,000 as a settlement of charges that it broke federal campaign finance laws four years ago.

That comes less than a year after the party paid a $110,000 fine for a separate charge from the 2000 election.

The Federal Election Commission says the party took in more than $188,000 in excessive contributions, accepted three anonymous cash donations that exceeded the federal limit of $50, and failed to keep proper records of its disbursements.

"This is the result of the same shoddy record keeping that the party did during the 2000 and 2002 elections," said state Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti. "We've made wholesale changes to our record keeping and accounting practices here at the party, and I think that's reflected in the smaller amount of this fine."

The FEC announced the settlement Tuesday, although the agreement was signed in May, after it was approved by commission members.

Both major political parties in the state have been hit with major fines over the past few years. In 2004, the Missouri Republican Party paid $128,000 to settle an FEC investigation into its financial reports for the 2000 election cycle.

Cardetti said reporting problems were caused, in part, by confusion about FEC rules for dealing with contributions transferred from federal to nonfederal accounts.

In the past, the party would accept checks, deposit them in the federal account, then transfer any amount over the federal contribution limit to a nonfederal account. Since the 2002 election cycle, the FEC has banned that practice, Cardetti said.

Parties are now required to receive two separate checks one for the federal account and another for the nonfederal account. "We certainly had bad record keeping and accounting practices that made it difficult to show where all of our money was going," Cardetti said.

The party now has a full-time accountant and is working with a compliance consultant to make sure it meets future federal reporting requirements.


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