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UPDATE: Candidate for Boone County Presiding Commissioner disqualified

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | 6:57 p.m. CDT; updated 5:58 a.m. CDT, Thursday, May 6, 2010

COLUMBIA — Bondi Wood says misinformation from the Missouri Ethics Commission led to her disqualification from the Democratic nomination for Boone County Presiding Commissioner.

Wood failed to file a personal financial disclosure statement with the Missouri Ethics Commission by the April 20 deadline, according to a statement from Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren. The form discloses public information about a candidate’s financial interests and potential conflicts of interest, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission's website.

Wood's name will not appear on the Democratic ballot for the primary or the general election.

Wood said at a press conference Wednesday morning that it was "not an oversight" on her part. She said a woman at the commission told her she did not have to fill out the form when she called them in February. Wood did not reveal the woman's name.

"My fate was sealed February 26 because I had checked that off my list," Wood said.

Wood said Betsy Byers, business services director for the Missouri Ethics Commission, confirmed that the woman Wood spoke to worked there and that she was not in the right department to answer questions regarding the form. Wood also said she has the phone records proving she called those days, but she did not record the calls.

"I just can't believe this happened," Wood said. "It's just really disheartening."

Noren said in an e-mailed statement that each candidate received several notifications regarding the form. She called it an "unfortunate situation."

"Due to the seriousness of this, the matter was referred to my legal counsel who advised me that I had no legal recourse but to remove Ms. Wood from the primary ballot," Noren said in the statement.

Wood said her attorneys told her that in order to fight her case, she would have to sue the county.

"I cannot bring myself to sue the county. It goes against everything I believe," Wood said. "I don't think Boone County did anything wrong."

Wood said she would give anyone the advice to record conversations they have with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

"I lack confidence in what they tell me," Wood said. "I don't think there's anything nefarious going on. Either they're overworked, understaffed (or) calls are misdirected."

Julie Allen, executive director of the commission, said she could not comment on specific candidates.

"When a person files for office, they are given notice for what they have to file," Allen said. "I feel very confident the commission followed the law."

The notice received by candidates and the form itself can be found here.

According to the commission's website, statewide offices and designated staff, senators and representatives, judicial candidates, judges, some state boards and commission members, and some employees of the state or political subdivisions of the state are required to file personal financial disclosure statements.

Including Wood, 45 candidates were disqualified for failure to complete this particular form, according to the commission's April 28 actions.

Democratic candidates J. Scott Christianson and John Sam Williamson are still in the race. Following the Aug. 3 primary, one of them will face Republican Ed Robb. The former state representative was the only Republican to file.

Wood said she will not be endorsing either of her Democratic opponents.

"That's like asking an MU Tiger fan to pick K-State or KU. I'm not prepared to do that," Wood said. "They've always been gentlemen. I liked them a lot more before they filed against me," she said with a laugh.

Wood also said she would never support her Republican opponent.

Wood announced her intent to run on Jan. 14 after current Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson announced he would not seek re-election.

Wood has raised $17,280, according to a quarterly report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission in mid-April. This includes $12,875 in monetary contributions and $4,405 in in-kind contributions.

Wood raised almost $10,000 more than Christianson reported.

She said she will most likely keep the money until after the primary and then give it back to her contributors.

"I will not be passing it along to another candidate," she said.

Wood said she was told Tuesday by the Missouri Secretary of State that running as an independent candidate was not an option. She said she is not ruling out running for office again someday.

"Talk to me in a few months," Wood said. "It's kind of like childbirth. Right after you have a child, you don’t want to go have another one."

Wood said this is "not a tragedy."

"This is a setback, a heartache, a frustration," Wood said. "Although I do hate it that your choices for presiding commissioner have dwindled."


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