he Missouri Ethics Commission will launch an investigation into campaign activity by Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston and the Committee to Elect Nan Johnston.
The commission confirmed the investigation in a letter to Jason Maki, who filed a letter of complaint with the commission Aug. 26, as reported in last week’s Landmark.
In its letter to Maki, which is dated Friday, Aug. 30, the statewide agency that investigates complaints regarding campaign finance disclosure laws, conflict of interest and other violations stated the agency would notify Johnston of the impending investigation by letter and “will begin an investigation into the allegations in the near future.”
Maki, a Parkville area resident, has been a vocal opponent of the way Johnston and city staff have managed transparency about–and processes surrounding–a large development in Parkville at Interstate 435 and Missouri 45.
Maki complained in a six-page letter to the statewide agency that Johnston’s campaign had broken Missouri law in several ways, including by accepting numerous corporate donations. Missouri voters outlawed corporate donations when they approved a constitutional amendment in 2016. The Landmark reached out to Johnston in an email but did not receive a reply by deadline.
When asked for a comment, Maki provided the following emailed statement: “All of us deserve to know that our elected officials are following and upholding the law,” he wrote. “Both the spirit and letter of the law. We also deserve to know they will be held in account when they do not.”
In his letter of complaint, Maki also accused Johnston and her campaign of other violations, stating they had “filed multiple deficient and suspicious reports which appear to have violated Missouri law.”
The complaint also alleges that Johnston’s committee “may have intentionally concealed its largest donors until after the election” and “accepted (and likely held and relied on) illegal corporate contributions for most of the period which it was active.” In addition, the letter states that Johnston also “violated Missouri disclosure laws” and “Exhibited a pattern of receipt and reporting conduct that indicates intent to conceal its largest donors’ identities.
The letter to the MEC also states that given the “guidance available to the committee’s treasurer, as well as Nan Johnston’s political experience” means that she and her committee likely knew the contributions were prohibited.
The letter also states that the investigation “will remain confidential until the commission takes a final action.”
The investigation process could take up to 90 days. “If the commission makes an initial determination that a violation may have occurred, the commission will refer the complaint to its legal counsel for hte filing of an administrative legal case,” the letter to Maki states.
“Unlike the 90-day timeframe imposed for the investigation, once the case has been referred there is no definite timeframe for the case to be resolved,” says the MEC in its letter to Maki. “You will be notified of the commission’s final action when it occurs.”