Friday, March 06, 2015

Ethics Commission to investigate C. J. Huff speaking fees

A  complaint alleging that Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff may have either lied or provided misleading information on financial disclosure reports he filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission for 2012, 2013, and 2014 was officially notarized and sent to the commission today.

According to the Ethics Commission website, this is what will happen with the complaint:

Within five days of receipt of a complaint, the Missouri Ethics Commission sends a copy of the complaint and the complainant’s name to the person/entity that the complaint is brought against (respondent). The statute requires that any Missouri Ethics Commission’s investigation and hearing held related to a complaint remains closed. The final disposition of the complaint is made public.
Since the R-8 Board of Education seems uninterested in Huff's speaking engagements, which last year had him away from the school district for four work weeks, I am the one who filed the complaint.

Regular readers of the Turner Report are aware that Huff has not listed his speaking fees as outside income on the financial disclosure reports he is required to file with the Ethics Commission. The only outside income Huff has acknowledged on those reports is from a family business in McCune, Kansas, with the money described as rental income.

Yet Huff told the Joplin Globe in its July 27, 2013 edition that he had made one speech for the Washington Speakers Bureau and a representative from the bureau told two Joplin High School students that Huff spoke frequently and he charged $8,000 per speech, plus travel fees.

Missouri law requires superintendents to list any outside employment that brings in more than $1,000.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good job, Randy! I hope we finally get some results!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Randy.

Frank Denny said...

Stop responding Anonymously. List your name... unless these comments are Randy himself.

Randy said...

No, Mr. Denny, the comments are not from me and yours seems to indicate that signing your comments does not make them any more intelligent.

Anonymous said...

I predict the formation of another small committee to be formed just as so as he can see through his tears to text Trust Fund Annie to come to his rescue.

I expect that the small committee will be able to baffle the Ethics Commission with novel insights and completely insulate Dear Leader from harm in this matter.

Coming soon: a small committee on severance agreements for high paid unfortunates needing to spend more time with their families?

Anonymous said...

Frank Denny, or so you call yourself, that's the beauty of this country... We can do as we damn well please and because it annoys you, I'm going to do it twice!

Great job Randy!!

Frank Denny said...

We are all Frank Denny.

Anonymous said...

GOOD FOR YOU RANDY. CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR HOW THIS TURNS OUT...

Anonymous said...

Randy, this is the right thing---he absolutely should be investigated for this---but you're not doing the smart thing, at least not politically. Huff and his cronies are just going to use this as more "proof" that you're out to get him. He'll probably even tear up when he talks about it in public, making you look like a bully. You're supposed to be a journalist, but this is more like you're manufacturing news and inserting yourself into the news story. And it just gives credence to the story about how you have an axe to grind. It looks like you were disappointed that the audit wasn't bad enough, so now you're doing this. Otherwise, why didn't you do it sooner? You've been reporting about these fees for a long time now, so why make an official complaint now? I get it, he's doing the wrong thing, and he should be investigated. But you shouldn't have been the one to do it, and your timing looks suspect.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank, remember me? Yes it's 9:40 :)

Again, GREAT JOB Randy! Huff thought his smug ass self was going to get away with all of his misdeeds and now he's been called out yet again. Karma is indeed a beautiful bitch!!

Anonymous said...

Huff and his cronies are just going to use this as more "proof" that you're out to get him.

Who cares? Not Randy or I, nor I suspect the Commission.

What the Commission has to do doesn't even have anything to do with the school district and his job in it. All they have to do is to subpoena the Washington Speakers Bureau, which I'm not sure they can do since it's outside the state, and see if anyone got payments for Huff's speeches.

Anonymous said...

Randy: only publish this comment if you want this information to be generally known right now:

Go to Huff's page on the Washington Speakers Bureau's website, look to the left where it says "Fee:", and see that the code is "2", which if you click on "Fee" shows that the code 2 is "7,501 - $10,000", just as reported from talking directly to them.

The Bureau isn't hiding anything now, they claim they exclusively represent him, and it would appear to be a sign of Huff's arrogance that he hasn't withdrawn from his relationship with them.

Unless, of course, without telling anyone, the money is going to a charity. Although I'm not sure Bright Futures Connections for Success AKA Bright Futures USA or the local chapter would count for him.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:28
You are correct that Randy has written about these fees on his blog for some time now. Even so, nobody, including the BOE to whom CJ supposedly reports, has bothered to look into this. CJ will be notified who filed the complaint so if Randy hadn't owned up to it right away it would have looked like he was trying to hide something and would have been criticized for that.

Asking for an official investigation is not manufacturing news. Either something will be uncovered or it won't but the fact that there are two speeches in 2013 and one in 2012 listed for CJ on the Washington Speaker's Bureau website is pretty glaring evidence that either CJ or the WSB is lying and that alone warrants investigation.

As far as the abysmal results of the audit, CJ and his spin machine are attempting to convince us that it really wasn't so bad and everything is because of the tornado. If successful, we will end up with the same ass-kissing, rubber-stamping, do-nothing BOE members after the April election. CJ will interpret that as a vote of confidence and continue along the same path.

CJ seems to believe he is Teflon and, so far, he has been able to fool a lot of people. If this investigation shows he lied and falsified information he wont' be able to outrun that or blame it on the tornado. So, kudos to Randy for asking for this investigation.

Anonymous said...

:)

Anonymous said...

This has been the one topic on the Turner Report that I always go back to when trying to decide if Huff is really as bad as some portray him to be. I've always thought that the truth about his speaking income would be what will seal his fate; he is either a saint or a crook. If it turns out he has lied about income he will surely be forced out. If it turns out he has been speaking and giving the money to Joplin schools because he speaks on school time using school resources to pay for travel all the while not bragging about being philanthropic, well, that will pretty much put the Turner Report out of commission. I am really looking forward to the results because I think it will be the first big step in moving forward. The turmoil has been sad to watch from afar, and I think has caused a lot of trauma in the district and is in part to blame for the general atmosphere which directly affects student performance. I think the results of this inquiry will be a powerful moment for Huff or Turner. Who will get the last word?

Anonymous said...

10:33, I have to disagree with you. I don't expect to find out that CJ has been philanthropic, but even if that turns out to be the case, is not only won't end the Turner Report, but it probably won't even damage it. CJ has addressed many of the "rumors" that have been circulating in the community, yet he will never address this one, at least not since he talked to the Joplin Globe two years ago. If this money had been going to the school or to charity, he would have addressed this long ago. That does not necessarily mean he is breaking the law. For instance, he might be putting the money into the rental business he mentions on his forms since the Turner Report says he never mentioned that on the forms until 2012 which was when he began traveling across the country. If that is what he did and calls is rental income, that is certainly misleading at the least. Another possibility is that the taxpayers have been stuck with the bill for his travels, travels which as Turner has noted countless times have kept him away form the district. IF we are paying the bills for this, we have every right to know. The fact that Turner is having to file this complaint is a sign of just how gutless or clueless the school board and the Joplin Globe are.

Anonymous said...

ntaiaThank you for filing this complaint. Hopefully this process reveals the truth on this topic.

I thought about the issue of whether or not Superintendent Huff has been getting paid for speeches he makes.

If he is not getting paid a significant amount for these speeches then why wouldn't he have debunked the controversy by stating the facts? I don't think the public expects Superintendent Huff to debunk all rumors, but the media have already reported facts as Randy cites in his post. This would be a significant sum of money at issue in what appears to be a rather obvious transaction. This may or may not be true, and and there may or may not be be more than one similar transaction. That makes this an obvious issue deserving answers, and not a rumor.

It shouldn't be necessary to file an ethics complaint to get the answers for a simple and obvious issue like this. If he didn't get paid, and if he did this on his own time, and if R-8 didn't pay any related costs, then this issue is over. All he had to do was make a public statement.

The public and taxpayers have a right to know whether or not their superintendent is serving and getting paid by others by trading on his position and the expenditure of the taxpayer monies (not to mention borrowing) that bought the so called Joplin miracle that Superintendent Huff is selling. Taxpayers and citizens have a right to know who is paying their superintendent, and also to know if their superintendent is paying (donating) significant unreported outside income to others.

Even if it turns out that Superintendent Huff was paid substantial sums for the speeches but donated the funds to worthy causes this seems like a possible slippery slope in general. I have no idea what the ethics rules say on this possibility. I can think of several organizations where large donations of outside earnings by Superintendent Huff might raise additional questions.

If it is revealed that Superintendent Huff did nothing wrong, and especially if it is revealed that he didn't get paid for any of these outside speeches, this controversy is still on him. He could have ended this controversy by an on the record statement. Wait, never mind, just realized the perfect excuse would be that Superintendent Huff had no idea what was posted on the The Turner Report.

Thanks again for the public service that The Turner Report provides.

Anonymous said...

I just posted a long comment at 11:33. Apparently the comments at 10:33 and 10:58 were approved while I was writing mine. To be clear, I am neither 10:33 or 10:58 and had not read either before hitting publish.

In my opinion this isn't make or break time for The Turner Report. However depending on the Ethics Commission fact finding and decision it could become make time for The Turner Report.

Do we need a pool for how long it will take the various local media to report on this filing and the resulting decision?

Anonymous said...

The former Superintendent of Seneca found out what the Ethics Commission was capable of doing. Even if the school board at the time continued to employ him after it was brought to their attention he was doing something unethical. Just because the board goes along or doesn't see a problem, it doesn't guarantee the Ethic Commission will go along with their opinion.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the personal financial disclosure form it states that "I affirm and attest UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY that information and facts in this report are complete, true, and accurate. I further acknowledge that I am aware that any false statement or declaration made herein is punishable under CH. 575 RSMo." The former superintendent at Seneca perjured himself on the disclosure form and got caught which resulted in a $55,000 fine. Hopefully, if Huff has perjured himself, he will also be hit with a huge fine by the Missouri Ethics Commission and the Joplin School Board will have the cahones to do what is right. Occasionally the bad guys don't win.

Anonymous said...

Where is the boards attorney in all of this? Is he an idiot? He should be keeping the deeds of the board in legal standing. Sounds like they have an absentee counselor or he really is dumb.

Anonymous said...

The attorney they had while all of this goodness was happening abandoned ship too. Couldn't stand it anymore. Anyone who has worked at the JSAB says it is a toxic environment. Their new attorney isn't famous for ethics so don't expect him to hold them to the law.

Anonymous said...

A man who lies and cheats in one regard will do so in other respects. We don't pick and choose our morals that way. He is either honest or he is a cheat. I'm guessing the second on this one.

Anonymous said...

The attorney they had during all this is now a Jasper County judge! That will be great for Jasper County.
Who is the new attorney?

Anonymous said...

I believe the new attorney is Blanchard, but I cannot attest to his ethics. I know the board chose him without using a competitive bidding process, so I guess we can deduce something about their ethics.

Anonymous said...

It might not matter who the attorney is because Cj will do whatever he wants without bothering to tell the attorney any more than he informs the board of his actions. Kind of had to laugh when I saw in the audit that the auditor had said the board would have to "continue to monitor the budget/spending." Have they ever? No. They do whatever Cj wants like a bunch of brainless marionettes. A puppet board that look like stooges.

Anonymous said...

CJ was a media whore after the tornado. So much so that he forced some of us into having our pictures done with him after we made our donations. Now that will play against him as we use those pictures and stories as evidence that our donations were received. We want to know what was done with them and if they went where they were intended. If CJ was donating his speaking fees, you can bet he would want publicity for it. That's what he lives for.

Anonymous said...

and time for a FOIA request to R8 for copies of all the no bid contracts!!!

Anonymous said...

The corrupt Chicago police could not and would not stop Capone. It took the IRS to stop him. Maybe some former and current employees should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Civil Rights. A Federal investigation might even make the Globe.

Anonymous said...

I have finally had some time to sit down and really study that audit. It is a very damning document. My personal favorite is the auditor's rebuke of Cj's (aka school board) plan to take interpretation of the Sunshine Law through a citizens' committee. The auditor apparently didn't seem to think that was necessary. He states in his rebuke that the district is to follow the law as it is written, not as Cj wants to interpret it for his own benefit.

The most alarming page is the very last one, depicting the projected costs of the construction and the projected funds to cover it. They don't seem to balance out. Since it is rumored that CJ used the high school as collateral for his no-bid loans, if the district cannot cover those deficits, does the high school fall to the lender? That could be interesting. New name: George K. Baum & Co. School of Finance

Anonymous said...

You actually studied the audit? Dear leader is very very disappointed you just didn't take his word for it when he said he liked the audit and unicorns really do poop rainbow candies.

In a practical sense the real collateral for all the borrowing is the ability to force the school district to raise taxes and collect whatever money is needed from the taxpayer.

The first and last stop for the R-8 lenders is always the taxpayers or R-8.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of things suspicious, word with the kids is that they're all getting new MacAirs next year at the high school.All of them? Did the board approve that mass amount of money? I can't find it in the board records, and believe me, I looked. Did the parents get a chance to give any feedback? I'd have said skip it and get us more books. I'm betting I'm not alone. So we just spend millions with no input from the stakeholders. Typical Huff and Co.

This angry mother will vote for no one connected with the current board or with Huff.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, puke, puke, all the same bilge water here. Randy, I don't care for Huffdom either, but every time I check back here it's the same old swash. You need to get a life beyond this bilge. Really, is this your whole life?

Anonymous said...

You are correct in the rumor you heard. It is a rumor started by Savannah Huff sitting at the great round table called lunch. It is unknown whether or not he sends her to school to start these rumors, but you can bet, if he thunk it up, it shall happen even if it runs the checkbook into the red.

Anonymous said...

9:36

That rumor came to me from adults. I have plenty of negative things to say about Huff's leadership and about the Board, but please, let's refrain from saying hurtful things about his children. They are delightful young people who represent their schools well, and we should treat them as we would want our own children treated. Please keep comments directed toward the responsible adults. Children should be off-limits, no matter what they have done.

Anonymous said...

3:24
I did not speak ill of Huffs children, I merely stated that was IN FACT a rumor started by his child at the high school whether you like it or not, heard coming straight out of her mouth. I said nothing of her character and not one hurtful word about her.
The intent of my comment is this...does he say things at home in front of them and they repeat it at school? And exactly where did the adults, you heard it from, get their information? From the kids? Where did the kids hear it? We both know that answer.
Re-read and check yourself before you start accusing and judging others.

Anonymous said...

You could only know for sure that Miss Huff said that if you were there. Are you a student or a creeping adult? You can never believe 100% what the students say, not even if you are sitting at the "great round table that is lunch."
Who knows where she heard it. If you are that close in proximity, why don't you just ask her? I prefer to get my info from informed adults, but unlike you, I don't give away my sources to the world. What Huff does in his house with his family is his business, not mine. What he does with the school district is my business, and I have made my feelings clear many times. By saying that his daughter STARTED a RUMOR you are implying she is lying, by the way, which is not a nice thing to say at all, and I heard it some time ago, so I don't think she said it "first." Go back to your lunch at the great round table and play nice so you don't lose your recess privileges.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha 8:21, you are amusing if nothing else! Where might one find an informed adult in the R8 school system? I knew about the laptops long ago, but unlike you, chose to remain silent. My child and Miss Huff are friends, now what? I did not imply, state nor assume she was lying. She said it, that's a fact. I know where her information came from, are you certain where yours originated? Why don't you throw your energy into protecting ALL the children in the district, like the rest of us do, instead of worrying about one family!