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Jackson County legislature candidate sues to get opponent off ballot

Late taxes at issue in Jax Co. legislature race
Posted: 4:52 PM, Jun 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 22:40:23Z

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Charlie Franklin's billboards say "Bring Balance to Jackson County" and touts his experience as a certified public accountant or CPA.

Franklin is running in the Democratic Primary for the Third District seat in the Jackson County Legislature which serves Independence and Sugar Creek.

But a new lawsuit his opponent, Paul Wrabec, filed claims Franklin botched his own ledger on property taxes.

Wrabec is suing to get Franklin removed from the Third District Jackson County Legislature Democratic Primary in August due to the issue.

As 41 Action News first reported earlier this month, Jackson County records show Franklin with tax delinquencies on two Independence properties when he filed to run in May.

"I'm going to make sure a judge gets to see this and interpret the law the way it should be read," Wrabec said.

Specifically at issue is a campaign disclosure form called a 5120 .

It states under penalty of perjury, a candidate is unaware of any tax delinquency.

Reached by phone, Franklin said he was unaware of the late taxes.

He states the law doesn't allow for mindset argument and says a candidate "shall" be disqualified for delinquent taxes.

"Perjury was committed. I've been waiting for the Jackson County Clerk to not certify him. I've been waiting for the Jackson County Election Board to do something. Nobody's done anything. An attorney read it, he said, 'Yeah, Paul, it's black and white. He broke the law. He needs to get his name off the ballot,'" Wrabec said.

Earlier this month, 41 Action News reported Franklin's billboards were posted before his campaign committee was registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Ethics Commission records show Franklin made two $10,000 contributions to himself on May 22.

But his campaign committee wasn't in place until June 11.

State law requires any donations of $5,000 or above be reported to the Ethics Commission within 48 hours.

The Ethics Commission found Franklin violated that law by 18 days and fined him $180, which he paid. 

Ethics Commission records show Franklin has donated $35,000 to his campaign so far.

"It wasn't even a slap on the wrist. It was like a touch on the wrist. If he's got $35,000 and they fine him $180 and he's breaking the law, what do they even exist for?" Wrabec said.

Franklin said he's self-funded his billboards in the district with the donations to his campaign.

"If he's got $35,000, if it's really coming from him, he should've been able to pay his taxes," Wrabec said.

A spokesman for the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said that office plans to review Franklin's tax issues.