Danedri Thompson

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A political group said it has filed campaign violation complaints with the Kansas Ethics Commission and with the Johnson County Election Commissioner related to  municipal  elections  in Shawnee and Mission.

The group, Coalition for Better Cities (CBC), lists three possible campaign violations – two in Shawnee and one in Mission.

Citizens in both communities head to the polls April 3 to elect new council members in Mission and council members and a mayor in Shawnee.

In Shawnee, the group alleges that current council member and candidate Jeff Vaught used government resources during a council meeting to campaign. CBC also alleges that incumbents in Shawnee improperly distributed electioneering materials via mail to voters. The group alleges a similar offense by incumbents in Mission.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby said his office received the complaints and forwarded them to the appropriate authorities.

“Our rule, any time someone comes to us with something like that, our role is really to pass it on with any agency to investigate,” Newby said. “We’re essentially paper pushers.”

Complaints about campaigns in Mission were forwarded to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. The local D.A. handles possible campaign violations in smaller cities like Mission, Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill.

Complaints about the Shawnee campaigns were forwarded to the Kansas Ethics Commission, who handles potential violations in cities of the first class.

Carol Williams, director of the Kansas Ethics Commission, would not confirm or deny that a complaint had been filed.

“Any complaint has strict confidentiality,” she said.

However, when complaints are filed, the ethics commission, which meets monthly, determines whether the complaint is sufficient on its face. In a following meeting, commissioners determine whether there’s probable cause.

“It’s at least a two-month process,” she said.

If the commission determines a complaint is valid, they have the option of fining individuals or groups of up to $5,000.