One of Kansas City's most prominent political clubs has reached a deal with the state of Missouri to avoid paying a hefty fine that would have crippled or killed the organization.
Freedom Inc., which has been championing African-American issues for more than 50 years, will pay a modest $9,500 fine.
The Missouri Ethics Commission originally imposed a $175,000 fine. Freedom will be on probation for two years and have to pay the balance if any infractions are committed in the next 24 months.
Freedom has overhauled its leadership since the issues arose. At least three members took money for personal use, signed checks that they weren't authorized to sign and failed to keep accurate records on campaign spending and contributions. The club failed to report nearly 50 contributions totally almost $55,000 and failed to report payments to almost 270 campaign workers.
As Kansas City's most powerful black political club, Freedom's endorsements are often much coveted as demonstrated during the 2011 mayoral campaign.
Clinton Adams Jr., a Kansas City attorney who played a pivotal role in striking the deal with the state, said all of the prior club leaders are no longer associated with Freedom.
"The Freedom Inc. officers responsible for the violations have been removed and replaced," Adams said. "This matter was resolved in a fair and equitable manner by the ethics commission. We commend and thank the commission, their staff and attorneys for their cooperation and even-handed disposition of this case."
Adams said a new leadership and management team has been created headed up by Missouri Sen. Kiki Curls, a Democrat, local businesswoman Gayle Holliday and former Councilman Charles Hazley.
"There is a new treasurer and a new secretary who are proficient in accounting, compliance and record keeping," Adams said. "Under this leadership team, the organization is competent, professional and successful... after 50 years of successfully working for the political empowerment of African Americans, the organization is revitalized and moving forward in service to the community."
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