Ex-mayor accused of campaign violation in Poplar Bluff

Friday, November 9, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Scott Faughn, former Poplar Bluff mayor and current publisher of SemoTimes, has been identified by the Poplar Bluff Police Department as the person who ordered the printing of the fliers urging a "no" vote on the city's $20 million bond issue for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.

Capt. David Sutton, who executed a search warrant at Office Depot Tuesday night and seized evidence related to Faughn's printing order, said the investigation is finished.

The evidence will be turned over to the Missouri Ethics Commission, deputy police chief Jeff Rolland said.

"We know Scott Faughn was identified as the person who ordered, approved, paid for and picked up the fliers, which violate Missouri election laws because there is no disclaimer on them," he said.

A paid-for-by disclaimer is required on any campaign advertising, including ballot issues, to indicate who paid for it, according to Section 130.031 of the Missouri state statutes.

According to Sutton's report, employees at Office Depot provided him a note containing the name of "Scott" and his cellphone number, a receipt for the $423.65 order showing it was paid with a $300 check and $123.65 cash, two proof copies of the fliers and a thumb drive with digital images of the original design of the flier.

Sutton was told Faughn dropped off the order on Nov. 1, approved a proof of the flier and paid for the order.

Faughn is a former mayor, former executive director of the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce and former president of the Highway 67 Corporation. He was terminated from the chamber job and also from the Highway 67 position after he was charged with mismanagement of corporation funds. A Cape Girardeau County jury convicted Faughn of three Class C felonies of forgery.

Sutton said he began his investigation Monday after receiving complaints about the distribution of the fliers and people wanting to know who was behind the effort.

A city employee identified Brian Becker, owner of semo.net, as the man who was placing fliers on vehicles parked at the Bluff City Apostolic Worship Center in the 200 block of Walnut Street on Sunday, according to the report.

On Tuesday, police received complaints about "vote no" signs at some of the polling places and Becker urging people to vote no.

Police photographed and seized four signs at the Ward 1 polling place, six signs at the Ward 2 polling place and six signs at the Ward 4 polling place. There was no disclaimer on any of the signs.

While police photographed sings in Ward 2, Becker asked if he could pose beside one of the signs. Police said OK and took his photo.

When Sutton began seizing the signs, Becker asked, "What are you doing with my signs?"

"I informed him the signs were being seized as evidence," Sutton said. Becker, 49, was issued a citation for placing the fliers on vehicles on Sunday without having a permit, which is a violation of a city ordinance. He is scheduled to appear in municipal court at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18.

Becker refused to disclose who gave him the fliers, Sutton said.

The Missouri Ethics Commission also will determine if Becker knowingly distributed fliers without a disclaimer.

If it is determined Becker violated state election laws, it will be his second time to be cited by the commission.

In September, Becker was ordered to pay a $2,000 fee for three violations of state law regarding his open access petition campaign in 2011. The consent order provided if Becker paid $200 within 45 days, the balance of $1,800 would be stayed for two years. However, Becker was told if he commits any other violations of the state campaign finance laws during the two-year stay, then he will be required to pay the remainder of the fee.

According to the joint stipulations of facts, Becker failed to timely file a statement of committee organization, failed to operate an official depository account and failed to timely file campaign finance disclosure reports.

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