Ethics board fines former St. Louis politician

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former St. Louis alderman has been fined $100,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for improperly spending nearly $20,000 in campaign contributions on student loans, new clothes, spa treatments and other personal expenses.

Kacie Starr Triplett and her campaign committee also failed to accurately report about $20,000 in donations or expenditures, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. She can avoid the full fine if she pays 10 percent of it within 45 days. There are no criminal penalties.

Triplett, a Democrat, did not respond to a newspaper interview request. She apologized for her “greed and selfishness” in an email to supporters.

“My conduct began on a small scale that I erroneously convinced myself was innocent and harmless,” she wrote. “However, I now realize that the misappropriation of any amount is improper and beneath the standards for anyone who serves the public.

“I fell into a behavior in which, if I desired something that I could not afford, I used my campaign funds to buy it. This was wrong.”

Triplett was elected in 2007 and stepped down in 2012. She was also a local spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s 2008 primary campaign.

The state investigation found that Triplett, through her campaign committee, spent as much as $18,900 on questionable purchases. That included, $4,284 in cash withdrawals, $2,763 on food and entertainment and $550 at a wig store.

The ethics report said Triplett provided information for the inquiry and agreed to its findings.

Triplett is the latest local politician caught using campaign cash for personal use. In 2013, the state ethics commission fined former state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, more than $270,000 for allegedly spending $14,169 in campaign funds, including nearly $1,800 at a clothing boutique and $362 for concerts and sporting event tickets. She has appealed the ruling.

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