Hartsfield's use of office raises questions

Despite questions about the legality of the situation, Jefferson City mayoral candidate George Hartsfield and two YMCA of Jefferson City officials maintain that an office used for campaign purposes on the premises of the YMCA is within their rights.

In an anonymous memorandum for the YMCA board of directors that was forwarded to the News Tribune, concerns were raised that Hartsfield is using an office at the YMCA Firley facility as part of his campaign.

According to Hartsfield, YMCA executive director Craig Lammers and Stacy Welling, chairman of the YMCA board, the offer for the office was made to Hartsfield as a gift for his years of service to the organization when he retired in the summer of 2009. The offer was made by the board of directors at that time.

Since the offer was made, Hartsfield said, he has used the office for work he does with different organizations, including church work and work for the Rotary Club.

“It was given to me as a courtesy, sort of an appreciation thing, with no restrictions,” Hartsfield said.

The Missouri Ethics Commission said no state law exists that would ban a mayoral candidate from using YMCA office space.

Federal law, however, does prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations, such as the YMCA, from participation in a political campaign.

A spokesman for the IRS referred a reporter to an IRS website that outlined the law. It says: “501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

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