Sojourner files late campaign finance report

Published 12:12 am Sunday, November 2, 2014

By Geoff Pender

The Clarion-Ledger

JACKSON — State Sen. Melanie Sojourner has filed her 2013 campaign finance report after being fined, having her legislative pay cut off and facing more fines or jail.

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Legislators’ reports to disclose campaign donors for 2013 were due Jan. 31. Sojourner, the only lawmaker of 174 who had failed to file, filed hers late last week. She filed shortly after Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann turned the matter over to the attorney general, as required by law.

In May, Sojourner was fined $500 for failure to file. In July, the Department of Finance and Administration cut off her legislative pay.

Sojourner has declined recent requests for comment on the matter. She has previously said she was unable to file her report because of tornado damage to her home and records in September 2013.

The report shows Sojourner received $14,650 in contributions for 2013 and spent $13,941.06, mostly on travel and lodging.

Her top donors were Buffalo Services, a petroleum distribution company, and a Mississippi independent pharmacies PAC, each contributing $1,000, and Amite Pole and Piling, at $900.

Koch Industries, a multinational corporation whose owners, Charles and David Koch, and subsidiaries spend millions on campaigns and lobbying was fourth, contributing $750.

It’s common for some lawmakers to be late in filing campaign finance reports, but most usually file after the secretary of state publishes a list of those who are late and before fines kick in after 10 days.

When the case was turned over to the AG, Sojourner could have faced a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine up to $3,000 and/or up to six months in jail.

After she was fined $500 and her pay halted, Sojourner filed for a waiver of the fine with Hosemann’s office. Secretary of State spokeswoman Pamela Weaver said the waiver couldn’t be considered until the report was filed.

“Now that Melanie Sojourner has filed, the secretary of state’s office may begin the process of considering her waiver request,” Weaver said Friday. “Our agency has a three-person committee in our Elections Division who meets to discuss all waivers and makes recommendations to the secretary.”