Jackson restaurant getting refund from Sander's campaign

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Paul Sander's campaign for Cape Girardeau County clerk will pay Stooges restaurant $1,105 to refund an in-kind contribution that exceeded the legal maximum, campaign treasurer John Thompson said Wednesday.

Stooges, a Jackson barbecue restaurant, provided the food at a mid-July picnic for Sander, the Jackson mayor hoping to replace Rodney Miller. Sander faces Kara Clark, sales director for the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, in Tuesday's Republican primary.

Thompson, a Jackson banker, said after a conversation with the Missouri Ethics Commission that the campaign needed to pay for the food. Thompson said he mistakenly believed that the limit for monetary contributions did not apply to in-kind help for the campaign.

In the latest campaign disclosure report, Sander reported that Stooges provided $1,430 worth of food for the event. The amount was based on Stooges regular catering charge of $6.75 per person for a meal with three varieties of meat and two side dishes.

A little more than 200 people attended the picnic, Thompson said.

Paying it back

After repaying the money, Thompson said the campaign will file an amended disclosure report detailing the transaction.

Ron Cook, owner of Stooges, is a longtime friend and political supporter of Sander, who has been mayor of Jackson for 13 years. Supplying the food was his way of showing support, Cook said.

The actual cost of providing the food was a little more than $200, he said, and his partners in Stooges and Cook's Barbecue donated their labor. He said he had not given the Sander campaign a breakdown of costs, but he did not dispute the campaign's value placed on the food.

Campaign finance rules require that the donation be reported at fair market value.

The law does not bar the owners of Stooges from making cash donations to Sander's campaign in addition to the restaurant's in-kind help. Cook said Wednesday that he would make a cash donation to the Sander campaign and believes his partners will as well.

At Jackson Homecomers last week, Cook explained his support for Sander: "Paul has been a friend of mine since high school. He has just been a good, honest person. Everything he has told me has always been the truth."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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