By Diane Krizek
Tribune Reporter

On Mar. 15, the Missouri Ethics Commission meeting agenda included hearing the late fee appeal of Tom Lovell who is running for the termed-out seat of state representative Gary Cross.

Lovell’s committee failed to file its campaign finance disclosure report after the statutory deadline. The committee treasurer may appeal the assessment of the late filing fee within 10 days of receipt of the MEC certified appeal letter. The MEC may forgive the assessment of the late filing fee upon a showing of good cause.

According to the MEC, a certified appeal letter was mailed to Lovell on Mar. 7 but the commissioners realized the day of its meeting that Lovell’s committee had not yet responded to the certified mail. The MEC tabled the hearing until its Apr. 25 meeting. But Mar. 15 was also the expiration date of commissioners Chair Nancy Hagan, Democrat, 7th Congressional District; Vice Chair Bill Deeken, Republican, 3rd Congressional District; and Eric L. Dirks, Democrat, 5th Congressional District.

Commissioners of some state agencies can stay past their term expiration until a replacement is appointed. Not so with the MEC. Mar. 15 was the last day for Hagan, Deeken and Dirks leaving just three commissioners and not one replacement nominated by Governor Greitens. Due to the senate confirmation process, gubernatorial appointments are normally done weeks in advance.

According to James Klahr, MEC executive director, the hearing bears no weight with the outcome of the upcoming municipal election. Lovell will likely be required to pay penalties. That is, whenever the MEC is able to hold a hearing with six commissioners.