Feb. 28--ST. LOUIS --In 2010, then-city Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett told O, The Oprah Magazine: "As a public official, I don't make a lot of money, but I do believe in buying quality fabrics."
It turns out she had money and did buy fabric, along with clothes and jewelry -- all using campaign cash.
The Missouri Ethics Commission says that Triplett, who stepped down in 2012, spent thousands of dollars meant for her campaigns while in office to pay student loans and pamper herself with new clothes, items from a fabric store, spas, salons and massages.
An investigation found that Triplett, through her campaign committee, spent as much as $18,900 on questionable purchases. Triplett and her campaign committee also failed to report accurate or timely information for about $20,000 in donations or expenditures, the commission's report says.
Triplett did not respond to messages seeking comment. In an email to supporters, she apologized and said: "My mistakes resulted not from need, but from greed and selfishness."
In 2010, Triplett also accepted money through a PayPal account and failed to report expenditures with the money, including $550 spent at an online wig store, according to the report. A breakdown includes these expenditures:
--$513 on clothes, shoes, jewelry at department stores
--$2,763 on food and entertainment
--$1,069 on salon and spa services
--$125 on fitness clubs and massages
--$4,284 on cash withdrawals
--$1,021 on items from Home Depot, Hancock Fabrics and other stores
The state commission fined Triplett, a Democrat, $100,000 for the expenditures and a variety of other campaign finance violations.
The Missouri Ethics Commission began the investigation in April 2013. The report filed late Wednesday said Triplett provided information for the inquiry and agreed to its findings.
There is no criminal penalty, although the investigation could spur others. Triplett can avoid the full $100,000 fine if she pays 10 percent of it within 45 days.
An apology, distributed from Triplett's personal email address, was circulated on Thursday.
"I fell into a behavior in which, if I desired something that I could not afford, I used my campaign funds to buy it. This was wrong," she wrote.
Triplett added: "My conduct began on a small scale that I erroneously convinced myself was innocent and harmless. However, I now realize that the misappropriation of any amount is improper and beneath the standards for anyone who serves the public."
Maggie Crane, the spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay, said that the "serious allegations certainly speak for themselves, but we admire how Kacie took full responsibility for her actions and will address them with the Missouri Ethics Commission."
Tom Shepard, chief of staff for Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, said: "We are sorry to hear about this; we know she was popular with her constituency."
Triplett, known for including biblical messages in her speeches and other communications, became one of the city's youngest aldermen when she was elected in 2007. She resigned from the post representing Ward 6 -- which spans parts of Downtown West, Lafayette Square and midtown -- in 2012 and took a job for the nonprofit Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis.
The organization issued a statement Thursday saying Triplett had left her position there.
Triplett was a local spokeswoman for President Barack Obama's 2008 primary campaign. That year, she authored a bill to give a stretch of Delmar Boulevard the honorary street designation of "Barack Obama Boulevard."
Brad Kessler, a lawyer who lost to Triplett in the 2011 aldermanic race, was quick to criticize Triplett on Thursday.
"It's proof that you're better off voting for a criminal defense attorney than an actual criminal," Kessler said.
Triplett becomes one of many local politicians caught using campaign cash for personal use.
In 2013, the state ethics commission fined former state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, more than $270,000 for allegedly spending $14,169 in campaign funds, including nearly $1,800 at a clothing boutique in Creve Coeur, $362 for "Scottrade tickets" and trips to Schnucks. She has appealed the ruling.
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