She made headlines by charging Mark and Patricia McCloskey for defending their property, but St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner might have legal problems of her own. Over the last two days, multiple allegations of ethics and campaign violations have erupted against Gardner, and not exactly from defenders of the McCloskeys. The CBS affiliate in St. Louis details a number of trips Gardner took, paid for in part by progressive political supporters, that she never disclosed. KMOV reports that Gardner’s junkets were “prolific and problematic,” at times interfering with her public duties (via Hot Air reader Edward T):
Sources tell News 4 Gardner is a frequent flyer. At times during her tenure as prosecutor, sources say, she has often been gone from her office a couple of times every month, jetting around on someone else’s dime.
Social media snaps show Gardner posing for pictures in Portugal, listening to conversations in New Haven, Connecticut, smiling with other prosecutors in Houston and linking arms in Selma, Alabama.
They are trips she apparently took in 2018 and 2019, but did not disclose on travel reports, as required by law.
Sources tell News 4 that some of the trips were paid for in full, or in part, by an organization called Fair and Just Prosecution, a group that professes to support progressive prosecutors. The organization has repeatedly applauded many of Gardner’s actions, including the charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey for brandishing guns in the Central West End last month.
Why not just report the trips? That might have given her political rivals some ammunition at election time. Unfortunately for Gardner, she provided them with more ammunition by allegedly violating campaign finance regulations. That accusation comes from Democrats supporting her primary rival, Mary Pat Carl. And it’s not the first time Gardner has done so — in fact, she’s on probation for a previous violation:
Fred Wessels, a former state representative and city alderman, filed a complaint July 21 with the Missouri Ethics Commission alleging Gardner violated probation of a 2019 ethics violation by failing to file within 48 hours a report disclosing a $78,000 in-kind donation from a political action committee based in Washington, D.C.
Wessels’ complaint claims Gardner “failed to report her contracts and payments to the media company who produced the video on her campaign page. That video is also on the circuit attorney website.” Wessels also complained Gardner’s campaign filed its April and July reports late.
Gardner ended up paying over $6,000 and consenting to probation in early 2019 after admitting to using campaign funds for personal expenses:
Missouri ethics regulators fined St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner $63,009 after officials said she used campaign funds for personal expenses and failed to accurately report numerous contributions and expenditures.
Gardner will have to pay only $6,314 to the agency if she cuts a check within 45 days, however, according to a consent order she signed on Dec. 28 with the Missouri Ethics Commission. …
Between April 2015 and July 2016, according to a 25-page consent order published Wednesday, Gardner used $2,855 in campaign funds to pay for housing costs. The order says the Missouri House reimbursed Gardner for the same costs.
The commission also said that, among other infractions, Gardner had failed to accurately report numerous contributions and expenditures.
If this sounds a bit familiar, it should. In Atlanta, the charges against the officers in the Rayshard Brooks shooting got filed by Fulton County DA Paul Howard before the investigation into the incident finished. It turns out that Howard faces a criminal investigation of his own over alleged corruption involving conversion of grant money into his own pockets, to the tune of almost $200K. Howard added more potential criminal charges down the road by apparently falsifying grand jury subpoenas in the Brooks case, for which Howard has offered at least three different and conflicting explanations.
Police have accused Howard of railroading the two officers in the Brooks case to distract from his own legal woes and to gin up popularity in the short run. One has to wonder whether Gardner is taking a page out of Howard’s playbook with the odd decision to charge the McCloskeys. Politically pandering prosecutors — and corruption — seem to be a problem with progressives these days.