Burnett returns $500 campaign contribution from Sanders

Also returns $200 from Frank White

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — UPDATE 3:50PM 4/16/2018: Jackson County Legislature Chair Scott Burnett has returned two campaign contributions that are currently under review by the state.

A newly-filed report shows Burnett has returned a $500 campaign contribution from former County Executive Mike Sanders' campaign committee and a $200 contribution from current County Executive Frank White.

The reimbursements are listed on the last page of a new report released April 15, 2018 by Burnett's campaign committee "Friends of Scott Burnett" filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

That report also shows the campaign stopped payment on a $50 contribution to "Committee for Michele Skelton".

When reached by phone, Burnett Campaign Treasurer Meghan Tallman said the Sanders and White contributions were returned in March after Ethics Commission Investigator Glenda Elliott noted the contributions were illegal under Missouri law.

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The Missouri Ethics Commission is reviewing a $500 contribution from former Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders' campaign fund to Jackson County Legislature Chairman Scott Burnett's campaign fund.

The 41 Action News Investigators first reported that contribution in January.

Now, Missouri Ethics Commission Executive Director James Klahr says the contribution may be a violation of state law.

Missouri voters passed Amendment 2 to the state constitution in 2016.

It took effect in December 2016.

According to Klahr, part of the impact of that new law is candidate committees aren't allowed to give money to other candidate committees.

Ethics Commission records from July 2017 show "Sanders for Jackson County" donated $500 to "Friends of Scott Burnett" in April 2017.

Sanders gave that donation to Burnett well over a year after Sanders resigned as Jackson County Executive.

At the time, Sanders had served one year of a four-year term and said he was done with politics.

However, his campaign committee remained active with several hundred thousand dollars in it.

Less than a year after Sanders gave Burnett the campaign contribution, Sanders pled guilty in federal court to a scheme to line his own pockets with his campaign money.

Sanders sentencing, in that case, is pending.

According to Klahr, if there's enough information from the review of the Sanders contribution to Burnett, it may prompt an investigation which would not be a matter of public record.

Klahr says if the Ethics Commission Board issues a ruling in the case, then it would be public.

Penalties could range from a reprimand to a fine.

Klahr also says no injunction has been placed on Sanders campaign account to prevent any disbursements despite his guilty plea.

Ethics Commission records show there's more than $430,000 in that account.

Sanders' wife Georgia is listed as the treasurer for the campaign account.

The most recent filing in January 2018 indicates there was less than $500 of activity for either contributions or payments in the last quarter of 2017.

Missouri state law indicates options for Sanders with that campaign money include returning it to contributors or donating it to charity.

However, Ethics Commission records currently list the Sanders campaign fund as active. 

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