Ex-Mo. House member fined for campaign violations

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former Missouri House member recently released from prison after pleading guilty to a bribery charge has been fined more than $500,000 for campaign finance violations.

The Missouri Ethics Commission contends that Talibdin El-Amin made thousands of dollars in payments to himself from various campaign committees that he operated and didn’t report several questionable payments, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/qwLt5B ). The commission’s allegations include 38 counts of campaign violations with findings that go back to 2006 and that were released after a hearing Sept. 9.

El-Amin on Tuesday called the ethics penalty an “administrative charge” and said he had no further comment. If El-Amin files the proper campaign paperwork within 60 days, he could have the roughly $527,000 fine from the Ethics Commission reduced to $68,000.

El-Amin, 40, was first elected to the Missouri House in 2006. He resigned in 2009 after he admitted in federal court that he accepted $2,100 from a St. Louis gas station owner who wanted help resolving problems with the city government.

The Ethics Commission cited several examples in its findings.

The commission found one committee in August 2006 wrote two checks for a total of $950 and wrote a $7,500 to cash. It then issued a $3,290 payment to El-Amin a year later that was not disclosed. A bank account for another committee was closed out in January 2008 with a cashier’s check for $15,000 made out to himself.

Missouri’s campaign finance law bars committees from making cash transactions of more than $50. However, the Ethics Commission says that El-Amin made frequent ATM withdrawals. On March 13, 2006, there were four ATM withdrawals totaling more than $300 from El-Amin’s main campaign account.

The commission also found undisclosed expenses for meals, hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Westin in Chicago, and clothes from Men’s Wearhouse and Levine Hat Co.

In addition, the Ethics Commission said El-Amin’s wife and mother were each paid more than $5,000 by one of the committees.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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