Hannibal councilman fined for violating state ethics laws with email promoting rally for Louderman

Mike Dobson

Mike Dobson, 2nd Ward, Hannibal City Council | MRN File Photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The Missouri Ethics Commission recently fined Mike Dobson, 2nd Ward Councilman in Hannibal, $1,000 for violating the state’s ethics laws.

A joint finding of fact filed April 10 by the Missouri Ethics Commission noted that the commission received a complaint on Aug. 7, 2023, against Dobson. He used his Hannibal-mo.gov email address to inform other members of the Hannibal City Council and city employees about a rally for Barry Louderman, a candidate for the city’s mayor.

The email read, “Please consider this your invitation to attend the Barry Louderman for Mayor kickoff to be held on the steps of the Old St. Elizabeth hospital at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9. … There are a host of dignitaries that include our State Senator Cindy O’Laughlin, Marion County Commissioners, etc. that plan to attend. Please join us as Bary (sic) outlines his visions for Hannibal.”

The Missouri Revised Statutes restrict the conduct of government officials using public funds for certain purposes. Section 115.646 states, “contribution or expenditure of public funds shall be made directly by any officer, employee or agent of any political subdivision, including school districts and charter schools, to advocate, support, or oppose the passage or defeat of any ballot measure or the nomination or election of any candidate for public office, or to direct any public funds to, or pay any debts or obligations of, any committee supporting or opposing such ballot measures or candidates. …  Any purposeful violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 4 election offense.”

The Missouri Ethics Commission ruled that it found probable cause to believe Dobson violated the statutes and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine to the commission.

“However, if (Dobson (pays) $100 within 45 days after the date of the consent order, the remainder of the fee will be stayed,” the order said.

If the commission found probable cause to believe Dobson committed any further violation of the statute within two years of the date of the order, then he will be required to pay the remainder of the fees.

The order was signed by Dobson and Elizabeth L. Ziegler, executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission.

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