Two candidates in the Democratic primary for a local seat in the Jackson County Legislature have been responding to various legal issues.
Paul J. Wrabec of Sugar Creek faces a zoning ordinance violation and a suit concerning credit card debt.
Meanwhile, Wrabec has gone to court to try to have Charlie Franklin of Independence removed from the Aug. 7 primary ballot based on delinquent property taxes. Franklin has paid those taxes as well as a Missouri Ethics Commission fine for tardy reporting of two large campaign donations.
The two men and Lois McDonald of Independence are running in the 3rd District, a seat held for 32 years by Dennis Waits, who is retiring. The district includes most of Independence as well as Sugar Creek. The winner of the primary faces Republican Brice Stewart of Independence in November.
Wrabec’s zoning ordinance violation resulted in a misdemeanor charge, for which he appeared at a June trial in Sugar Creek Municipal Court. It relates to maintenance of Wrabec’s Vinograd Winery, a family-owned establishment at 501 S. Sterling Ave.
The court found Wrabec guilty of creating a nuisance by not removing large stainless steel tanks, storage containers, plastic drums and other distillery items, and it ordered Wrabec to alleviate the situation by Oct. 30. He appealed and paid a bond of $500.
When asked for comment, Wrabec maintained he “still thinks [he’s] right.”
He also disputed a suit filed against him in Jackson County Circuit Court by Capital One Bank. It alleges Wrabec owes a $1,738.44 balance on a credit card. The bank is asking for repayment of court costs, alongside this sum.
In its suit, the bank says Wrabec hasn’t made a payment since March 2017.
In response, Wrabec said his identity was stolen, though Capital One claims Wrabec never objected to the balance’s accuracy.
This comes as Wrabec has filed a complaint against Franklin in Jackson County Circuit Court, asking the court to declare Franklin disqualified for the ballot because of delinquent property taxes at the time he filed to run.
County tax records show Franklin made tax payments, including interest and fees, on June 9 and 11 on two properties he owns in Jackson County. There had been no prior tax filing for 2017 on those two properties. The payments were $1,670.01 and $565.70, respectively.
Franklin filed for office May 22, during the added filing period after Waits withdrew his candidacy, saying Waits had encouraged him to run and offered his support.
Any candidate filing for election must file an affidavit of tax payments declaring they’re not behind on any state income, municipal, personal property taxes or real property taxes on their place of residence.
Under Missouri Revised Statutes, a candidate “shall be disqualified” from the election if delinquent on such taxes
Franklin said he did not believe that included investment properties and paid the taxes soon after, well within the 30-day grace period the state permits to correct delinquent tax complaints following government investigation.
In a complaint filed June 19, Wrabec says the multi-step complaint process applies for the normal filing period (18 weeks before election), but with Franklin’s later filing such a complaint process is not practical and the court should rule on Franklin’s candidacy.
Franklin called the case a “desperate attempt” by Wrabec, a “frivolous deal” he hopes can be resolved soon. According to court records, a case management conference has been scheduled for Oct. 15.
Franklin also acknowledged he was fined $180 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for not reporting campaign donations of $5,000 or more within 48 hours, as required by state law.
The donations in question were two $10,000 payments Franklin made to his own campaign on May 22, the same day he filed to run.
Ethics Commission records show Franklin dated the statement of organization May 20 and it was certified by the MEC on June 11, the same day the MEC listed the payments as reported.
The payments came into question because billboards for Franklin’s candidacy began to appear in Independence before his campaign committee had been certified.
The MEC fined Franklin $10 for each day he was late in reporting, and he has paid the fine.