Only days before the general election, state Rep. Tom Shively (D-Shelbyville) is raising allegations of improper campaign practices against his opponent in the upcoming election, state Rep. Lindell Shumake (R-Hannibal).
Shively’s complaint stems from an estimated three dozen mailings sent out by Shumake, who currently represents District 6, to residents in Shively’s 8th District. Because of redistricting Districts 6 and 8 will become part of District 5.
Messages left on Shumake’s cell phone and at his Capitol office were not returned Thursday.
The items mailed consisted of laminated newspaper clippings citing athletic accomplishments that were placed on a sheet of paper embossed with the state seal. Also on the paper is a handwritten note from Shumake. On the back is Shumake’s state business card.
These items, according to Shively, were mailed from Shumake’s Capitol office at taxpayer expense.
“While it is perfectly acceptable for Rep. Shumake to send such mailings to his own constituents, when he spends taxpayer money to contact my constituents - people he doesn’t represent - he is using state resources for campaign purposes. This is definitely unethical and potentially illegal,” said Shively in an e-mailed press release.
While Shively does not have a cost estimate regarding the postage and materials, he contends it should not matter.
“To me you either follow the rules or you don’t follow the rules. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s 10 cents or $1,000, you don’t break the rules and it’s against the rules to be using state of Missouri funds to be campaigning with. It’s a violation,” he said in an interview with the Courier-Post.
Shively is calling on Shumake to reimburse the cost of the mailings and report his actions to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Shively reports he has called the Ethics Commission. According to state law, the Ethics Commission cannot confirm that a complaint has been received. Neither can it accept a complaint against a candidate this close to the Nov. 6 election.
“What the law allows us to provide to the public is any final decision the Commission makes on an investigation,” said Julie Allen, director of the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Shively has also notified the chief clerk and chief counsel of the Missouri House.
“I’ve turned this over to them and asked them to do something about it,” he said. “They said they would bring it up to Rep. Shumake. I said if I see any more of these go out I’ll be pushing it further. I know there have been two more come out since I said something to the chief clerk and the counsel about it. Maybe it took that long to get the process shut down.”
Page 2 of 2 - Messages left at the office of the chief clerk of the Missouri House were not returned Thursday.
Shively has sent a letter to the House Disciplinary Committee about the matter, but isn’t anticipating any immediate action since the House is not in session.
“It’s basically going to be almost an administrative hearing,” he said. “Committee members will make the decision whether they agree or disagree that this is right or wrong.”
Shively sought assistance from the Democrat Party.
“They basically said, ‘We’ve got more than we can handle right now,’” he said.
Shively didn’t become aware of the mailings until mid October.
“People at the South Shelby school district started calling and asking if it was legal for him (Shumake) to be doing this,” he said. “It’s legal for him to do those kinds of things in his home district, which right now would be Ralls County and Marion County. It’s illegal for anybody to be campaigning like this in an area you do not presently represent.”
Shively decided to go public now after not making much headway with his party, in the House and with the Ethics Commission.
“The more I dug into it myself, the more I found out that it’s going to be up to me to point it out and get the action taken care of,” he said.