How Much Does Sharon Carpenter Owe Taxpayers For “Storage” At City Hall?

From October 15, 2014, Riverfront Times cover story, Sharon Carpenter’s Strange Fight for the Recorder of Deeds Office,” by Danny Wicentowski

Carpenter also waves off concerns of her using her Recorder of Deeds office as her base of campaign operations. Things accumulate over 30 years, and she doesn’t consider storing mailing material at the office a violation of Missouri’s campaign-ethics laws.

So, according to Sharon Quigley Carpenter, she used her City Hall Office to “store” campaign materials. Doesn’t she owe the taxpayers for storage?

Depends. Right? How much space are we talking about?

34 years of campaign finance records, fundraising lists, invitations, literature drafts, campaign letters, stationary, and a sign, and that’s just what belonged to Carpenter for Recorder Committee. Then there was the 23rd Ward Democratic Organization records and materials.

Sharon Carpenter resigned as Recorder on July 11, 2014, but left thirteen paper boxes of campaign records and materials in the Recorder’s Vault at City Hall. Thirteen boxes.

Instead of turning these campaign materials over to the City Attorney, or Circuit Attorney, or Attorney General, or FBI, Jennifer Florida, the new Recorder, allowed John Carpenter, son of the former Recorder and 23rd Ward Democratic Committeeman, to pick up his mother’s belongings and take them home. It was a kind, nonpolitical thing to do.

But that wasn’t the end of it

More boxes of campaign and ward materials were found in various other Recorder spaces at City Hall, including the basement. Plus, she had left her “op” research package on Ed McFowland in her private office and..

Also from the October 25, 2014, Riverfront Times:

Back in her office, Florida slides open a desk drawer. Inside there are stacks of envelopes, rubber bands and stickers bearing the name of Carpenter’s 23rd ward.

“This is what I keep finding,” she says. “You don’t keep your campaign literature in your offices.”

The way Carpenter sees it, using City Hall space to “store” all this campaign material was OK.

Very well. Then let’s look at what she owes the taxpayers for that storage.

sqc5sqc4The “storage” of campaign materials at City Hall began in 1980. She was appointed to fill a vacancy and then ran for the post in a special election. How do we know she had been storing campaign materials from the very beginning of her Recorder career? She left it at City Hall. It was in one of the boxes found in the basement.

I borrowed some items related to the draft of her first election brochure and scanned them at home.
sqc1sqc3sqc6

Let’s say that Carpenter owes $300 a month for “storage” in various Recorder of Deeds locations at City Hall in Downtown, not a cheap area to rent office space.

8 months her first year. 7 months her last year. 384 months for the other 32 years. 399 months total x $300 = $119,700.

Sharon Carpenter owes $119,700 in rent to the taxpayers of St. Louis City. Or maybe it’s more. Or maybe it’s less.

Carpenter said would pay the City back for the stationary she used to send a political mailer on her last day at City Hall. Is she ready to write a check for her “storage” at City Hall?

Or maybe this use of City Hall for personal purposes was a taxable benefit that should have been declared to the IRS.

– Marie Ceselski

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