Sojourner’s waiver won’t be granted until campaign reports are received

Published 12:12 am Friday, August 8, 2014

NATCHEZ Sen. Melanie Sojourner has filed a request to forgive penalties for not disclosing campaign finance reports, but the Secretary of State’s Office says that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

The senator’s request won’t be granted until the actual reports are filed.

The freshman Republican senator from Natchez was assessed a $500 penalty for failing to disclose her campaign finance reports that were due Jan. 31.

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The state Department of Finance and Administration warned Sojourner her lawmaker’s salary will be withheld until she files the documents.

Pamela Weaver, director of communications with the Secretary of State’s Office, said Sojourner filed a waiver request Friday.

A waiver request can be filed if “an unforeseeable mitigating circumstance” prevented Sojourner, or any other legislator, from filing the campaign finance reports.

Weaver said Sojourner’s waiver request would not be considered until the receipt of the report.

Sojourner said last week she was aware of the notices on the late reports, but that damage to her Kingston house by a tornado in September 2013 destroyed the majority of her paperwork needed for the reports.

Sojourner said she would begin the process of attempting to collect the necessary documents to file the report.

The senator also said she felt targeted by the state office and that other lawmakers had told her they often don’t file their reports.

Weaver said there was no member of the Legislature, House or Senate other than Sojourner who had not filed his or her 2013 Campaign Finance Report with the Secretary of State’s office.

She also said all members of the Legislature were current in their reports from 2012 to date.

Weaver said state law dictates the process for withholding the pay of state legislators who fail to file a campaign finance report.

Sojourner did not immediately return a phone message left seeking comment.

Sojourner represents District 37, which includes parts of Adams, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties, and is chairwoman of the Senate Forestry Committee.