Campaign committees that rack up big credit card bills must report the details of those expenses on their public finance reports, the Missouri Ethics Commission has determined.
The interpretation, which had been requested on behalf of Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, means that Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon will have to start releasing more credit card details of his gubernatorial campaign.
Blunt and Nixon are expected to face each other in the November 2008 governor’s race.
Blunt’s campaign has attached the details of its credit card bills to his campaign finance reports. But Nixon’s campaign has listed only the amounts paid to credit card companies, not what each of those bills include.
In an advisory opinion dated Nov. 9, the Ethics Commission essentially said campaigns must treat credit card bills as they would cash expenditures.
State law requires expenses of more than $100 to be itemized on finance reports. So if a hypothetical credit card bill for $200 included a $150 hotel charge and several other smaller amounts, the hotel charge would have to be reported in detail, while the other items could be categorized in general groups like food or parking.
“Now that the Ethics Commission has clarified its requirement, we’ll begin reporting it that way,” Nixon spokesmen Oren Shur said Monday.
Shur said Nixon’s campaign would change its previously filed reports to add a more detailed description of credit card bills.
Blunt spokesman John Hancock contended that’s exactly what Nixon’s campaign should do.
Blunt’s itemized credit card bills have included everything from a $21,148 payment to Aspen Executive Air of Colorado to coffee shop and fast food purchases of less than $5.
Hancock said Blunt will continue to itemize those small expenses, even though the Ethics Commission opinion indicates that’s not necessary.
Blunt’s campaign asked for the Ethics Commission interpretation because “we thought that perhaps we were disclosing more than the law required,” Hancock said cheap payday loans. “We really were just looking for clarifacation.”
Blunt’s campaign has shown a far greater reliance on credit cards.
From October 2006 until October 2007, campaign finance reports show about $109,000 in credit card charges for Blunt compared with slightly more than $25,000 in charges for Nixon’s campaign.