Missouri treasurer Zweifel takes campaign money from developer

Sunday, October 18, 2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The head of Missouri's housing commission, who pushed through new rules earlier this year against conflicts of interest for the panel, received fundraising help last month from a developer.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, chairman of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, backed new ethics rules that require commissioners and staff to disclose conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from decision-making.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Friday that Zweifel, a Democrat, has had fundraising help from a Springfield lawyer whose company has applied to the housing commission for tax credits.

The ethics policy changes came after a state audit in June identified several potential ethical lapses and potential conflicts of interest.

Sam Hamra, a principal of H&H Development Co., held a Sept. 21 reception at his office building that raised money for Zweifel's campaign. Hosts paid $1,000 per couple, sponsors paid $500 and supporters $250. Hamra, his wife and son donated $4,400, and business partner Kenneth Hamilton contributed $1,000.

The Housing Development Commission uses tax credits and tax-free bonds to help finance construction of affordable houses and apartments. Its oversight commission includes the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer and six gubernatorial appointees.

Zweifel told the newspaper that lawmakers need to decide whether the elected officials who serve on numerous state boards that award tax credits can accept campaign contributions. He said that policy should be consistent for all those commissions.

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