Putting a yearslong controversy to rest, the Missouri Ethics Commission ruled Wednesday that former Springfield city councilwoman Jan Fisk did not properly disclose her financial ties while in office and ordered her to pay a $100 fine.
Fisk served on the City Council from 2012 until earlier this year when she declined to run for re-election. Fisk and her husband own Fisk Transportation, a local limousine and busing company.
The Missouri Ethics Commission ruling found Fisk violated state financial disclosure requirements by not disclosing certain conflicts of interest while in office.
“There is probable cause to believe that Respondent violated (the statute) because her 2019 Financial Disclosure Statement did not disclose her Social Security income, her position on the Board of Directors of one or more non-profit organizations, and the financial interests of her spouse,” read the ruling’s findings.
It found that Fisk did not disclose that her Social Security benefits exceeded $1,000 in 2019. She also did not disclose her membership of several non-profit boards in Springfield, including Springfield Sister Cities Association and the History Museum on the Square.
Lastly, Fisk did not disclose the financial interests of her husband or his membership on the board of Ozarks Technical Community College.
Between 2016 and 2018, Fisk filed three “short form” disclosures that did not require this information.
But in 2019, the statute requiring those short forms expired and the city reverted to a “long form” disclosure, which requires greater financial disclosures from the City Council.
Because of the ruling, Fisk was ordered to pay a $100 fine within 45 days.
In an interview with the News-Leader, Fisk said she is “glad” that the investigation had concluded and was “happy” to pay the $100 fine.
“This has been going on since 2017. You know, it’s disappointing that something just drags out for a long time,” Fisk said.
“Going forward now we’re providing bus service for the city. We’re working with the city and providing the service that they need. I’m just glad that it’s finalized and we’re moving forward.”
Fisk added that she hopes the city changes the requirement of financial disclosure for City Council members.
“The city charter needs to be updated… so this will not happen to other council members. It’s so easy to trip into doing something… It’s just so many council members are businesspeople too, and it’s a small town and things just overlap.”
Fisk first came under scrutiny because Springfield resident Linda Simkins filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which resulted in this ruling.
After the ruling’s release, Simkins thanked the council on Facebook for implementing the stricter financial disclosures in 2019.
“When city council unanimously voted… to file the long form disclosure, it was a big move on council’s part for transparency to the public. Council deserves recognition for it,” she wrote.
Simkins previously filed a Missouri Ethics Commission complaint against Fisk in 2018 for allegedly violating the city charter by contracting with the city for bus transportation services.
This complaint was referred to the City Council, which later dismissed the ethics inquiry.
Last year, Fisk voluntarily paid $3,453 to city government “to avoid the perception of wrongdoing.”
“That is the amount someone could believe I or my family benefited from my time on council,” Fisk said at the time.