he head of a citizens’ group opposing the city of Parkville’s handling of a massive development has filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission regarding the mayor’s bid for re-election in April.
The complaint, filed by Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville, states that a video on Mayor Nan Johnston’s political page on Facebook does not provide information about who took or paid for the video.
Johnston, who is finishing a term as mayor, is running for re-election April 2. The short video segment includes clips of Gov. Mike Parson speaking near a bridge at Interstate 29 in the Northland in southern Platte County.
In the clip, Parson tells a group of onlookers that the bridge is one example of the poor condition of Missouri’s roads and bridges and his plans to improve the state’s infrastructure. The video also includes footage of Johnston conversing with the governor.
No audio is included, but a printed statement at the bottom of the footage states, “I was pleased to speak with Gov. Parson today about his plans to take a leadership role to prioritize road and bridge infrastructure in our state.”
“Voters who see the ad in this format have no way of knowing that this video is a paid production by the campaign of Mayor Johnston,” according to the complaint, which was filed Feb. 21.
The complaint also includes information on a [Landmark reporter] alerting Johnston via email that the video did not include a ‘paid for by’ credit as required by state law.
Johnston’s Feb. 15 return email to the reporter stated, “It is in the process of being corrected. Thank you for monitoring my facebook to ensure compliance. If you need anything else, please let me know!”
A banner at the top of the page includes a blue banner with the following: “Re-elect Nan Johnston Parkville Mayor.” Small print at the bottom of the banner states: “Paid for by the committee to elect Nan Johnston.”
In a Feb. 21 email to Johnston, a [Landmark reporter] asked her if she had referred to Citizens for a Better Parkville as a hate group and if she ever stated that Jason Maki was interfering with elections. Johnston’s reply did not answer the questions, but asked, “My question to you is, how are these questions relevant to the election or city business? The last time you asked me why one of the videos on my campaign facebook page did not contain the required “paid for by” message. Is this minor omission newsworthy?” the email stated.
Liz Ziegler, executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission, said Missouri law prohibits her from discussing a complaint and that the commission only releases information at the end of an investigation.
According to the ethics commission website, officials decide whether to investigate a complaint within five days of the complaint’s filing. Maki said he had not yet been notified by the commission if they will accept the case.
Ziegler added during a telephone interview, “I can’t verify anything.”
The commission website states the body may take a variety of different actions based on their findings, including referring the matter to a prosecuting attorney if there are “reasonable grounds that a violation of criminal law has occurred.”