Who Are SLPOA’s Elected Allies?

It started with a question on Twitter. One with an answer, I thought, that I had already started researching.

question

I’ve gone back and reviewed campaign finance reports filed by St. Louis Police Officers Association with Missouri Ethics Commission. I looked at contributions, including in-kind, made after the shooting of Michael Brown, August 9, 2014, in Ferguson. I chose that date because it seemed to me like no candidate or elected official in their right mind should have accepted* a check from SLPOA after that date.

Here is what I found.

SLPOA Donations to Aldermen
Includes current aldermen and current aldermen who ran for another office during the period but did not win.

7th Ward Jack Coatar (Total $3500) – $500 1/5/2017; $1000 1/27/2016; $2000 1/22/2015
6th Ward Christine Ingrassia (Total $1200) – $200 6/22/2015; $1000 1/5/2015
23rd Ward Joe Vacarro (Total $1200) – $700 7/18/2016; $500 6/22/2015;
22nd Ward Jeffrey Boyd (Total $1000) – $500 8/11/2016; $500 2/2/2015
26th Ward Frank Williamson (Total $1000) – $500 2/2/2015; $500 10/16/2014
8th Ward Steve Conway (Total $500) – $500 1/27/2015
5th Ward Tammika Hubbard (Total $500) – $500 2/23/2017
16th Ward Tom Oldenburg (Total $500) – $500 3/20/2017
12th Ward Larry Arnowitz (Total $500) – $500 2/2/2015
27th Ward Pam Boyd (Total $350) – $100 4/27/2017; $250 3/13/2017
25th Ward Shane Cohn (Total $250) – $250 12/13/2016
13th Ward Beth Murphy (Total $150) – $150 3/23/2017

Aldermen- Adding January 2013** to August 10, 2014…
22nd Ward Jeffrey Boyd (New Total $1800) – $300 7/31/2014; $300 4/21/2014; $200 1/13/2014
6th Ward Christine Ingrassia (New Total $1600) – $400 4/10/2014
23rd Ward Joe Vaccaro (New Total $1400) – $200 10/2/2013
12th Ward Larry Arnowitz (New Total $1000) – $500 3/23/2014
13th Ward Beth Murphy (New Total $350) – $200 4/21/2014
14th Ward Carol Howard (Total $200) – $200 6/11/2014

SLPOA spent thousands of dollars on the failed aldermanic campaigns of Ken Ortmann (9th Ward), including donations to his ward organization, and Jennifer Florida (15th Ward).

SLPOA Donations to Board of Estimate & Apportionment
The real decision-makers on money and policy matters for City of St. Louis.

Mayor Lyda Krewson, previously 28th Ward Alderwoman, has received $6,529.99 in checks and in-kind from SLPOA since August 2014.

Comptroller Darlene Green received a $1000 donation from SLPOA in January 2016.

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed received $500 from SLPOA in February 2015.

SLPOA Donations to Missouri House (St. Louis City Delegation)
Includes current state representatives and current state representatives who previously were aldermen during the period.

81st District Fred Wessels (Total $675) – $175 8/1/2016; $100 6/16/2016; 400 4/27/2016
79th District Michael Butler (Total $600) – $200 8/18/2016; $100 8/26/2015; $200 10/21/2014; $100 8/25/2014
82nd District Donna Barringer (Total $600) – $200 2/15/2016; $200 10/15/2015; $200 2/18/2015
77th District Steven Roberts (Total $500) – $250 4/20/2017; $250 2/9/2016
80th District Peter Meredith (Total $400) – $100 5/15/2017; $300 5/24/2016
76th Dsitrict Josh Peters (Total $300) – $100 3/24/2016; $200 10/14/2015

Missouri House- Adding January 2013** to August 10, 2014…
82nd District Donna Barringer (New Total $1100 ) – $500 8/4/2014
79th District Michael Butler (New Total $700) – $100 8/23/2013
76th District Josh Peters (New Total $400) – $100 1/22/2014

Miscellaneous SLPOA Donations

Stephen Webber, now Chair of Missouri Democratic Party, received a total of $1250 in 2015-2016 as a State Representative and unsuccessful Missouri Senate candidate.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway received a $250 in June 2017 and $200 in October 2015 from SLPOA.

I know a number of elected officials who received donations from SLPOA have recently supported protesters and hit the streets with them during actions. But I am unclear as to which elected officials were protesting, which were there for a photo op, and which were just loitering to see what was going on or just passing through the crowd.

To be clear, I am not saying elected officials are bought and paid for by SLPOA. My position is that these are elected officials that SLPOA believes were or are allies. They have a confidence about them that a majority of elected officials stand with them and will stand with them no matter what. We don’t know right now who SLPOA’s allies are, but we will. Voters who want Black Lives to actually Matter will work to hold them accountable.

*SLPOA made a donation to Alderwoman Sarah Martin. She was under the impression that the donation was returned but it was not. After brought to her attention, my understanding is that the refund is being made, so I have not included it as a donation. If there is anyone else who refunded or rejected an SLPOA donation, let me know and I will edit the post to acknowledge.

** January 2013 was chosen as that 2013 was the previous election year for aldermen. Some aldermen only raise funds during their election year.

Previous post regarding SLPOA and donations.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

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Whatever Happened To Lyda Krewson’s Reduce & Reform Committee?

city-hall3When I first saw the initiative petition to change municipal election dates, I thought maybe Reduce & Reform STL was behind it. It appeared to reduce the number of elections. I have long been an advocate of moving all our elections together to increase turnout and reduce costs. Finally some reform I could support, or so I briefly thought.

Reduce & Reform STL was the ballot issue campaign committee created by 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson and 8th Ward Alderman Steve Conway to support passage of Proposition R, the November 11, 2012, Charter amendment to reduce the number of wards from 28 to 14.

I opposed that amendment but did not actively work against it at the polls. I thought then, and still do, that doubling the number of constituents, neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions requiring an alderman’s attention is creating a big mess. But, I had just been elected a committeewoman that August, my alderwoman sponsored the board bill to put it on the ballot, and I had yet to form a ward organization or raise any money.

According to reports filed with Missouri Ethics Commission, Reduce & Reform STL raised $8,230.16 and spent $7,301.00 on the successful effort. Most of the money came from aldermen:

$3,000 from 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson
$2,500 from 13th Ward Alderman Fred Wessels
$1,000 each from 7th Ward Alderwoman Phyllis Young and 8th Ward Alderman Steve Conway
$750 from 24th Ward Alderman Scott Ogilvie
$500 each from 14th Ward Alderwoman Carol Howard, 15th Ward Alderwoman Jennifer Florida,16th Ward Alderwoman Donna Baringer, 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy, 25th Ward Alderman Shane Cohn

Other donors of note:
$1,500 from Chameleon Integrated Services (government IT contractor)
$1,000 from St. Louis Police Officers Association
$1,000 from EMB Development Group
$500 from 4th District State Senator Joe Keaveny
$500 from realtor Jerome Glick
$200 from attorney Jane Dueker

After the election, Reduce & Reform STL filed with Missouri Ethics Commission to convert the account to a political action committee. It transferred $929.16 from the old committee to the new one, kept the same name, and kept Krewson as Treasurer and Conway as Deputy Treasurer.

Reduce & Reform STL reported only Limited Activity to Missouri Ethics Commission in 2013, 2014, or 2015.

On March 29, 2016, just days before the April 5th municipal election, Reduce & Reform STL received a $10,000 check from Civic Progress PAC.

With that money, on March 30th, it paid $4,000 to Jobs With Justice for a literature drop. Reduce & Reform STL did not report to Missouri Ethics Commission a printing bill or direct expenditure for a ballot issue or candidate relating to that literature drop.

With that money, on March 30th, it also made a $6,000 donation to Citizens to Elect Jamilah Nasheed. Nasheed was not on the municipal election ballot. She did, however, spend $11,900 on Proposition E (earnings tax renewal) radio ads.

On April 5, Mike Owens, husband of Krewson, replaced her and Conway as Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer.

On April 8, Mayor Francis G. Slay announced he would not seek re-election.

On June 14, Krewson declared she was a candidate for mayor.

On July 18, Reduce & Reform STL terminated and its remaining $537.16 was donated to Billionaire Rex Sinquefield’s Better Together.

termination

On August 2, Rex Sinquefield and 5th District State Senator Jamilah Nasheed joined forces on the Police Body Cam Scam initiative petition. 

In September, Better Together began its initiative petition drive to move some municipal elections to state election dates but leave ballot issues, school board, and community college trustee elections as Spring elections with dramatically reduced turnouts. This is the petition to game the system in Rex Sinquefield’s favor, reduce turnout for charter amendments toward getting rid of the earnings tax and implementing other changes. It is one of three local initiative petitions Sinquefield is presently funding.

Krewson has some explaining to do. When she talks about being a champion for reform, what does she mean? Rex Sinquefield’s Agenda?

I hope not. I like Krewson. I volunteered for her Board President campaign, went door to door in the 23rd Ward for her. And, I don’t have to agree 100% with a candidate in order to vote for her or him. But…

This City needs a champion for big change and one who will stand up to Rex Sinquefield and the consultants getting rich off him. I will vote for the candidate that I believe will do both the best.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Note: There will be a meeting 6 pm Monday, October 3, 2016, to discuss launching an initiative petition drive for a Re-Vote on reducing the number of wards.

Remove Your Name From Sinquefield-Nasheed Police Body Cam Scam Petition With This Affidavit

Affid To Withdraw Signature fr Init. Petn (8-15-16)

Late today, I received this form that the Board of Elections has drafted for voters to remove their names from the petition that allegedly would fund police body cameras. You need to have your signature notarized and the affidavit has to be delivered to the Board of Elections, 300 N Tucker, St. Louis MO 63101. If you have questions about removing your name, please call Election Director Gary Stoff 314-622-4239.

You need to hurry because Mr. Stoff says the petitions may be delivered to Board of Aldermen on Thursday, this Thursday, August 18th.

Previous post from Election Day when this controversy started.

I am also urging you to contact State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, a sponsor of this proposal, and ask her to stop the ballot initiative. As you can see from this story, she is an important player on this issue.

 You can contact Senator Nasheed at
(314) 409-5730
jamilah.nasheed@gmail.com,
Jamilah.Nasheed@senate.mo.gov

Make Saint Louis Safe is the campaign committee name. It filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission today and the filing says this would be on the November 8th Ballot. Rex Sinquefield has transferred $25,000 from one of this others PACs to the new organization. Lots more to follow.

It’s important to note that none of Sinquefield’s organizaitons, Senator Nasheed, or the consultants working for this proposal has produced evidence of where the alleged $1 Million in savings by moving the Recorder of Deeds services to Assessor’s office comes from. There is a constitutional provision that says if the Recorder’s office is merged with another office, the employees don’t lose their jobs.

constitution

So the cost savings comes from where?

-Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Vote No On Proposition 1

Take a stand against the unethical campaign by St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board. Vote No on Proposition 1.

Don’t Support Taxation Without Representation. Vote No on Proposition 1.

Don’t Trust the St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board to spend more of your tax dollars. Vote No on Proposition 1.


prop1ballot

Numerous complaints have been filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission (by 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman Marie Ceselski, 15th Ward Democratic Committeewoman Missy Pinkerton McDaniel, possibly others) regarding violations of campaign finance and election laws by the St. Louis Public Schools District and its Special Administrative Board.

  • SLPS/SAB has used school district funds and resources to support the property tax increase campaign.
  • SLPS/SAB has failed to properly report expenditures made on behalf of the campaign and properly report who paid for campaign expenditures.

SLPSDmec1bSLPSSABmec1b

Even after the SAB was informed of those two complaints and more, it continues to spend public funds on the campaign. Voters received several mailers identified as paid for by the SLPS but “for informational and educational purposes” and “not intended to advocate, support, or oppose Proposition 1.” In reality, they were advocacy pieces. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.

SLPS continues to use staff and resources, including its website to push for passage of Proposition 1.

Under normal circumstances, MEC would have already rendered a judgment against SLPS/SAB. Unfortunately for taxpayers and voters across Missouri, the terms of three of six members of MEC expired March 15 and there is no quorum to conduct business.

“Tuesday’s municipal elections across Missouri are being conducted in an ethics-free zone,” wrote Tony Messenger in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A vote against Proposition 1 is a vote against an unethical campaign that may never be held accountable because of a massive system failure.


The voters of St. Louis City elect a Board of Education to govern the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). Our elected school board, however, has no power over policy or budget of the SLPS.

Instead, SLPS is currently governed by a three member Special Administrative Board appointed by the Governor, St. Louis City Mayor, and City Board of Aldermen President. The SAB is not accountable to voters. Voters had no say in the change and cannot undo it.

This year the SLPS qualified for full accreditation, the first step toward returning control of our schools back to our elected board. The Missouri School Board, however, trusts the SAB more than an elected board to run things and in January extended the stay of the SAB by at least three years.

Your vote against Proposition 1 is a vote against taxation without representation.


The ballot issue says the proposed new revenue would be spent, in part, on “competitive salaries” for “teachers and staff.” Staff could very well mean administrators, more people with fancy titles. Staff could mean hiring someone to run another unethical campaign, maybe next time a slate of candidates for school board.

Your vote against Proposition 1 is a No Confidence Vote against the Special Administrative Board.


Do our public schools need more money? Yes.

Are there people we respect that support Proposition 1? Yes.

Are either reason enough to vote for it. No.

Please join 7th Ward Independent Democrats and 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman Marie Ceselski and Vote No on Proposition 1 this Tuesday, April 5th.

I Will Not Endorse An Illegal Campaign

Updated 2/16/2016 The Missouri Sate Board of Education today decided that the Special Administrative Board should control St. Louis Public Schools for another three years. Yes. The same board violating Missouri Ethics Laws will remain in charge of our schools, not our elected board.
———-

I believe every child has a right to a quality education in public schools paid for with tax dollars.

I believe good teachers should be among the most valued and best paid of occupations.

I am, in general, in favor of raising taxes to accomplish both. I will not, however, support an illegal campaign to raise taxes for St. Louis Public Schools.

By Monday, February 8th, members of the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee, ward committeemen and committeewomen, received a solicitation from the St. Louis Public Schools Special Administrative Board (SAB) asking for our endorsements of Proposition 1 to raise property taxes for public schools.

SAB1SAB2SAB3The first thing that I noticed from the mailing is that a copy of the actual ballot measure was not enclosed. We were being asked to endorse the proposal based on what the SAB said it would do. That did not sit right with me.

The second thing that I noticed was the use of “Proposition 1” by the SAB for the ballot. That did not sit right with me. The City of St. Louis also has a Proposition 1 for the same April 5th election, a bond issue which will not raise taxes.

Then I noticed there was no “Paid for by” on the SAB letter, endorsement form, or envelope, and that the campaign was using resources paid for with tax dollars to advocate for the ballot issue, both violations of Missouri Ethics Laws.

There was a conversation about this mailing on Twitter between 7th Ward Committeeman Brian Wahby, 15th Ward Committeewoman Missy Pinkerton McDaniel, and others.

I entered the conversation on Tuesday, February 9th, after the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation declared no public funds were being used.
SAB4
That prompted a call to me on my landline phone from Rachel Seward, Deputy Superintendent of Institutional Advancement, St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). Ms. Seward’s message was that the mailing had erroneously left off the “Paid for by” disclaimer, a new mailing was going out to correct the previous, and the campaign was being funded by a Political Action Committee.

I returned the phone call and told Ms. Seward that sticking “Paid for by” a PAC on the SAB/St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) stationary would not have made the mailing legal; the use of SLPS resources including staff had tainted the campaign; and the SAB needed to pull the issue off the ballot. She listened and said she would pass along my concerns.

Let me be clear here. This is not an “oops” moment. It’s a “we got caught” moment. Local government entities, particularly school boards, frequently have complaints filed against them with the Missouri Ethics Commission on use of public resources to advocate for ballot issues.

I have not received the promised correction mailing from a PAC. Perhaps the SAB is waiting to see if someone actually files a complaint against them.

It gets worse. According to a January 26th article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the SLPS hired a campaign manager “to develop, coordinate and supervise the tax campaign at a cost of $60,000,” another clear violation of Missouri Ethics Laws.

And this comes from the SAB, not our elected School Board stripped of its powers to run the SLPS District. The SAB is appointed by Governor Jay Nixon, Mayor Francis Slay, and Board President Lewis Reed. According to St. Louis Public Radio, Tuesday, the State School Board is poised to retain the SAB and not return control of our public schools to voters, retain an unaccountable, unelected board that currently is violating Missouri Ethics laws.

As I said, I want to support our public schools with more funding. I postponed blogging about this last week because there was a fundraiser for a nearby public elementary school and I didn’t want to detract from it.

But I will not, cannot, support a ballot issue for public schools that begins by breaking the law. I do not care who tells me this was all a series of mistakes now being corrected. The damage is done. I have no reason to believe that if I endorsed this school tax levy, another violation of state law will not happen. The best thing for everyone would be for the SAB to remove school levy hike from the ballot and start clean another time.

– Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Do You Properly Report Sample Ballot Expenses To MEC?

Early Friday morning, I read my daily subscription feed on Missouri Scout.  Under “Bits,” I read that St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French had been fined $45 by Missouri Ethics Commission. I clicked on the link to the MEC Consent Order and Findings of Fact and nearly had a heart attack.

In 2013, French’s campaign committee paid poll workers to distribute sample ballots paid for by someone else. He reported the poll worker payments to MEC but did not report the payments as Direct Expenditures to support or oppose the candidates or ballot issues on the distributed sample ballots.

Are we (ward/township/county political party committees), as well as other PACs and candidate committees, required to report all the candidates and ballot issues supported or opposed on sample ballots in addition to reporting the payment to the printer? Even if it’s under $100?

I called MEC to find out. It turns out many of us, if not most of us, with political party-related committees in St. Louis and some current/former candidate committees, are in violation of the law, have been for years, and need to amend many reports from 2012 to present, with regards to expenditures for sample ballots, mailings, poll workers, etcetera. The requirement is found at…

130.041.1(7) RSMo: The amount of expenditures for or against a candidate or ballot measure during the period covered and the cumulative amount of expenditures for or against that candidate or ballot measure, with each candidate being listed by name, mailing address and office sought. For the purpose of disclosure reports, expenditures made in support of more than one candidate or ballot measure or both shall be apportioned reasonably among the candidates or ballot measure or both. In apportioning expenditures to each candidate or ballot measure, political party committees and political action committees need not include expenditures for maintaining a permanent office, such as expenditures for salaries of regular staff, office facilities and equipment or other expenditures not designed to support or oppose any particular candidates or ballot measures; however, all such expenditures shall be listed pursuant to subdivision (4) of this subsection;

If you are/were a Candidate between 2012 to Present that reported paying for sample ballots, mailings, or lit drops supporting more than your candidacy, or campaign workers to deliver/distribute same, and you did not declare Direct Expenditures made to support or oppose other candidates or ballot issues, you need to amend your reports.

If you are/were a Political Party Committee or Party-Related Political Action Committee between 2012 to Present that paid for sample ballots, mailings, or lit drops supporting or opposing candidates or ballot issues, or campaign workers to deliver/distribute same, and you did not declare those payments as Direct Expenditures made to support or oppose candidates or ballot issues, you need to amend your reports.

In the case of a printing bill paid for by a Party Central Committee- such as ward sample ballots for a General Election– the Central Committee should have reported the Direct Expenditures.

We cannot merely report these payments as Itemized Expenditures. This is where a lot of us screwed up. We reported but on one form instead of the required two forms.

We cannot merely report these payments as Non-Itemized Expenditures. This is where others screwed up. The form says you can report expenditures under $100 by category without itemization. In reality, you have to itemize payments for campaign workers AND election-related printing as Direct Expenditures for or against candidates and ballot issues.

We cannot file Limited Activity Reports if we made a Direct Expenditure of any amount. From my conversation with MEC Staff, I get the impression that MEC is very unhappy with all the Limited Activity Reports being filed.

We cannot report Direct Expenditures as a lump sum for “sample ballots” or “our candidates.” We have to report all the names, addresses, and apportioned amounts for each candidate or ballot issue.

032015ballot382310_378855845554977_1271693563_nPersonally, I am confused about apportioning a printing expenditure among the candidates and ballot issues supported or opposed. MEC says if your sample ballot supports 10 candidates and costs $100, then you have made a Direct Expenditure of $10 per candidate, each to be listed by name, address and dollar amount.

The law does not take into account that the printed material may have content unrelated to those candidates or ballot issues. 7th Ward Independent Democrats sample ballots contain information on upcoming events and membership. We’re not the only ward organization that uses sample ballots for more than Election Day information.

In some cases, non-candidate and non-ballot issue content takes up 2/3 of the sample ballot. The law, however, does not acknowledge such a variable.

Amend Reports. Itemize everything. Declare the Direct Expenditures no matter how absurd the dollar figure. Never again file a Limited Activity Report. That’s my plan.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman