Blunt appointee to state license office paid campaign finance fine
Friday, March 11, 2005
ST. LOUIS -- The man chosen by Gov. Matt Blunt to run a south St. Louis County driver's license office paid $37,000 in fines for violations of federal campaign finance laws in 2003.
Garrett Lott, 34, handled campaign finance reporting for Blunt last year. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the FEC complaint that led to the 2003 fine was trivial and would have no bearing on his ability to run the license office. He said he was named in the complaint because he happened to be the treasurer of the two committees that got into trouble.
Lott was treasurer of the Spirit of America PAC and Ashcroft 2000, two committees associated with former Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo. The FEC determined that Spirit of America exceeded campaign contribution limits by more than $110,000 when it forwarded to the Ashcroft 2000 campaign the proceeds from renting out the committee's list of donors. The FEC said both campaigns failed to disclose the excessive contributions.
"Had we taken this to court, I would have prevailed, but it wasn't worth the money to spend on the legal costs," Lott said.
Democrats have added criticism of Lott's nomination to a list of complaints they have made about the transfer of the politically sensitive and financially lucrative offices from their party to Republicans. Private contractors -- usually with party connections -- operate the offices, which handle motor vehicle and drivers licenses transactions for a fee.
"The Federal Elections Commission thought Mr. Lott should be punished while our governor thought he should be rewarded with the state's most lucrative no-bid contract," said Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party.