Freedom Inc., one of Kansas City's best-known political clubs, has paid a $9,500 fine for a series of campaign finance reporting violations over the past four years.
A consent order released Friday by the Missouri Ethics Commission detailed its case against the 50-year old East Side club. In the order, Freedom conceded dozens of campaign finance reporting violations and promised not to break the law again.
The commission fined the club $175,000, among the largest penalties it has ever levied. But members said they would hold all but $9,500 of the fine in abeyance as long as Freedom followed the law over the next two years.
If the club is found guilty of campaign finance violations during that period, it will owe the full amount.
In a statement released Friday, attorney Clinton Adams said Freedom, long considered the most important political club in Kansas City's African-American community, is under new management.
"The Freedom, Inc., officers responsible for the violations have been removed and replaced," the statement said. "The organization is revitalized and moving forward in service to the community."
That statement said the new leadership team includes Missouri state Sen. Kiki Curls, businesswoman and consultant Gayle Holliday, and former Kansas City councilman Charles Hazley.
The commission's order includes nine different counts against Freedom, each involving violations of Missouri campaign finance law.
It found Freedom improperly used undisclosed accounts for campaign cash, allowed unauthorized persons to sign committee checks, and failed to properly report 47 contributions totaling almost $54,000. Freedom failed to completely disclose committee spending and failed to report payments to 269 campaign workers, the consent order said.
Freedom also failed to report spending on specific campaigns, and a former committee treasurer converted some committee funds to personal use, the commission found. Most of the violations occurred in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The club was active in this year's elections. It had roughly $10,500 in the bank at the end of September, according to its amended campaign finance disclosure statements. The statement did not include the cost of the fine.
Freedom has faced a penalty for finance reporting irregularities before. In 2006, the Federal Election Commission fined the organization $45,000 for failing to file as a federal political committee after helping then-candidate Emanuel Cleaver in the 5th District U.S. House race two years earlier.
Freedom also accepted contributions in 2004 that exceeded federal limits, the FEC found.