Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ethics Commission plans no further investigation into Koster money laundering investigation

The Missouri Ethics Commission will not pursue money laundering allegations against newly-elected Attorney General Chris Koster.

A notation on the Ethics Commission website indicates there may have been some commissioners who were willing to look into the charges. "There were not four votes as required under Chapter 105 for further action to be taken."

No further investigation will be conducted of Koster, his campaign committee, the Economic Growth Council or its treasurer Chuck Hatfield, according to the Ethics Commission document.

The money laundering allegations were first noted in the April 15 Turner Report:

An elaborate money laundering operation established by former Jay Nixon aide Chuck Hatfield enabled Chris Koster to continue to far outpace his opponents in the Democratic race for attorney general.

Hatfield's Economic Growth Council, registered with the state on Dec. 23, funneled nearly half a million dollars into Democratic committees across the state, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.

For instance, the 128th District Democratic Committee, Webb City, received $27,500 from the Economic Growth Council, and immediately sent half of that amount to Koster and the other half to LUC Media, Marietta, Ga., a firm that specializes in political advertising, apparently to be used on Koster's behalf.

The 12th and 14th Legislative District committees, two of many which have Mark Miles as treasurer, received $27,500 apiece from the Economic Growth Council, with half of the money going to the Koster campaign in cash and the other half reported as an "in-kind" contribution. It appears those "in-kind" contributions went to LUC Media.

The Economic Growth Committee made contributions of this kind to committees all over the state, and Koster's campaign disclosure form, filed today, shows sizable contributions from all of them.

The committee's funding comes from a wide variety sources, including an aging billionaire, but not the one who has been written about extensively in this blog over the past few days. Though Rex Sinquefield has contributed heavily to Koster's campaign through his political action committees, this time the billionaire is James Stowers, 84, of the Stowers Institute, who contributed $125,000 to the committee...the same amount he gave directly to Koster's campaign one year ago during the time when campaign contributions were not in effect. The Economic Growth Council also received $73,725 from the Supporters of Health Research and Treatments, an amount also nearly identical to what the group gave Koster one year ago.

Among the other contributors who circumvented contribution limits by giving first to the Economic Growth Committee, which then laundered their cash through the legislative committees were:

-Ameristar Casinos, St. Charles and Kansas City, $17,450
-Regional St. Charles County Leadership Fund $12,500
-Land Trust No. 12 LLC, O'Fallon $20,000
-McEagle Fund LLC, O'Fallon $5,000
-Carey & Davis LLC, St. Louis, $100,000
-Technology Drive LLC, St. Louis, $25,000
-Healy Law Firm, St. Louis, $25,000
-Hubbard for Senate, St. Louis, $30,000
-John F. McDowell, Boeing, $10,000

The type of activity that those who filed the complaint wanted investigated did not stop with the actions noted in the April 15 post. Just nine days ago, The Turner Report noted that it appears the Economic Growth Council was used to funnel payday loan contributions into Koster's campaign:

The Ecomomic Growth Council contributed $8,000 to Koster's campaign Sunday, according to a 48-bour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, and it appears most of that money came from the payday loan industry. The council's Ethics Commission filing shows it received $5,000 from Check into Cash, Cleveland, Tenn. and $1,500 from Axcess Financial, Albuquerque, N. M.

No comments: