Three former Wentzville aldermen–including Chris Gard, who just yesterday submitted his candidacy for mayor–have filed ethics charges against Mayor Nick Guccione.
The charges filed by Gard and former aldermen Richard Stokes and Forrest Gossett allege that Guccione “used his office to directly manipulate the outcome of the Municipal Judge’s election, as well as used other public officials, employees, meetings, and City of Wentzville resources toward that goal.”
The charges are related to the election of Michael Carter to the position of municipal judge last year. They allege that Guccione used his position as mayor to offer one of the candidates, Vince Johnson, the position of city prosecuting attorney if he would pull out of the race and clear the way for Carter to win.
The charges further allege that Guccione asked the board to vote not to renew the existing prosecutor’s contract at the February 25, 2015 board meeting, during his mayor’s report. That item was not on the agenda for that meeting. (A “sunshine law” complaint was filed with the Missouri Attorney General about that incident in April 2015.)
When the city attorney brought up irregularities with that vote, it was placed on the agenda on March 11, 2015 and a vote then took place.
At his request, Johnson’s name was removed from the ballot for municipal judge on March 4. A third candidate for judge did not campaign, and Carter won the election.
Later in April, the city posted RFPs (Request for Proposal) for the position for Prosecuting Attorney on a meeting agenda. According to the charges, Guccione recommended Johnson for the position, even though Johnson charged more per hour, and Johnson scored lower in the city’s rating system.
Guccione told 70 West Sentinel that the allegations were politically motivated, and had been timed to coincide with the election. “There were no deals and no promises,” he said. “We follow the same process with the contract for city administrator or police chief. Mr. Johnson was very well qualified, and held the same position in O’Fallon. The board approved the appointment.”
Johnson also denied the allegations, stating in an email to the board of aldermen that he dropped out of the race because of the expenses involved with campaigning and because he did not believe he could win.
Below is a copy of the charges as filed.Judges-Election-Charge