By Linda Ahern
Leonard Jonas Hughes, IV, a candidate for Missouri Senate (District 8), is under fire for not complying with Missouri campaign finance laws, not paying assessed fines and for filing as a Republican candidate when he has served as a Democrat throughout his political career.
Hughes represented District 42 in the Missouri House of representatives from 2005 to 2013. He served in the state House as a Democrat. He is running for Missouri Senate as a Republican.
In 2008, the Ethics Commission ordered Hughes to pay $13,000 in fines for violating failing to file campaign finance disclosure reports, failing to file timely campaign finance disclosure reports, failing to report all contributions and expenditures, exceeding campaign contribution limits and using committee funds for personal use.
In addition, between 2005 and 2011, Hughes had incurred late fees totaling $16,740. In order to be sworn in and take his House seat in 2011, he had to pay those fees. However, Hughes incurred $7,600 more in late fees in 2011.
In 2012, the Ethics Commission fined Hughes $30,584.66 for violating Missouri laws governing the following: the maintenance of an official fund depository account in the name of the campaign committee, the timely filing of campaign finance disclosure reports, requiring timely and accurately disclosure of contributions and loans received, requiring timely and accurately disclosure of expenditures and expenditures made, requiring disclosure of information regarding expenditures to campaign workers, prohibiting cash expenditures greater than fifty dollars and exceeding the aggregate of ten percent of all expenditures during a calendar year, and prohibiting conversion of committee contributions to personal use.
Included in its Finding of Fact, the Commission stated that Hughes had failed to appear for two sworn depositions and had failed to respond to a subpoena requesting documentation related to finance contributions.
Also, in its finding, members of the commission found that “despite Hughes’ experience as an elected official, despite previously incurring $13,000 in campaign finance violations, despite his serving on the board of directors of an election committee and despite Respondent’s experience with late fees, Respondents Hughes and Hughes for the House have continued to knowingly violate Missouri’s campaign finance laws.”
There is no evidence that Hughes ever paid the $30,584 fine assessed on him in 2012. State laws prevent any successfully elected official from filing for office or from assuming the duties of office until the candidate has filed all campaign disclosure reports and paid all fines assessed by the commission.
In April of this year, the state Republican party sent letters to the Secretary of State’s office in an effort to remove Hughes from the ballot. The party also sent a letter to Hughes which said, “The Missouri Republican Party has discovered evidence that you are not, in fact, a Republican candidate.” The party also refunded his filing fees.
Hughes is on the ballot and is running against Mike Cierpiot in the primary election on August 7. State Senate District 8 includes most of Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana, Lone Jack, Blue Springs, and Grain Valley.