Rule one in politics: Candidates can’t spend campaign money on personal expenses.
Missouri Rep. Michael Brown, a freshman Democrat from southeast Kansas City, now admits to The Kansas City Star he did just that — perhaps in amounts totaling several thousand dollars.
“When I moved to Jefferson City, we were in a pinch,” Brown said of himself and his wife, Gilma. “It was keep the lights on, keep the gas on, keep the phone on. It wasn’t (spent on) trips. It wasn’t vacations. It wasn’t going out to dinner.
“It was a mistake to use that money,” Brown, 42, said. “It was a mistake.”
His latest campaign report, filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission July 18, listed a $10,000 debt with a notation reading, “Carried from the campaign.” How Brown accumulated the debt is not explained.
The report also carried a personal note to the Ethics Commission, which is unusual given that campaign reports are forms intended to detail receipts and spending.
“I will be closing this account next week,” Brown wrote. “I’m just not able to raise funds to end my debt. I’m sorry for the poor performance at filling out these forms.”
Like his wife, Michael Brown said he no longer possesses receipts for some of his campaign expenses. The upshot is that he plans to assume the entire election debt himself, even though he said some of his expenses were legitimately campaign-related.
Despite what his campaign report said, Brown estimated that his campaign debt totaled at least $15,000. And he knows he’ll be paying it off for years.
“I have to move on,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes. I’ve apologized to the ethics folks.”
This is bad, and I’ve been ragging on Republicans over this. But the dude turned himself in, and is taking it like a man.
Cynthia Davis (thanks to RSR for the tip!) said in her defense: “Campaign-finance rules are extremely complex, and I will work to see that any inaccuracies are immediately remedied.”
I like Brown’s response better.