Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 15SL-CC04008
Honorable Michael D. Burton
K. HOFF, JUDGE.
Missouri Ethics Commission ("the Commission")
appeals the circuit court's order and judgment denying
the Commission's application for the enforcement of a
subpoena duces tecum issued to Yolonda
Fountain-Henderson (Respondent). We reverse and remand.
and Procedural Background
April 2015, Respondent was elected mayor of Jennings, a small
Missouri municipality. The Commission,
which is responsible for administering Missouri's
campaign finance disclosure laws, see Section
105.957.1(3); Geier v. Mo. Ethics
Comm'n, 474 S.W.3d 560, 562-63 (Mo. banc 2015),
received a citizen complaint regarding the mayoral election
in September 2015. The complaint alleged that Respondent was
required to file a committee disclosure report and financial
summary for the campaign, but that Respondent failed to do
Commission initiated an investigation and issued a subpoena
duces tecum to Respondent to provide "[a]ll
documents related to the April 2015 [municipal] Mayoral race,
" including bank statements, cancelled checks, debits
and credits associated with [Respondent's] campaign's
account, receipts for campaign expenditures, and records for
all monetary and in-kind contributions. Respondent produced
no documents. The Commission filed an application to enforce
circuit court ordered Respondent to show cause why the
subpoena should not be enforced. Respondent filed a brief in
opposition, arguing, inter alia, that the Commission
lacked authority to issue the subpoena. After a hearing on
the matter, the circuit court ruled in a one-page,
Respondents not required to produce records in response to
the subpoena. Citizen complaint . . . did not allege
sufficient facts showing that [Respondent] received over $325
in contributions from a single contributor, more than $11,
000 from all contributors, or $1, 000 in expenditures.
Petitioner's application for enforcement of subpoena
duces tecum denied.
Commission filed a motion to reconsider and / or amend the
judgment. The circuit court summarily denied that motion.
This timely appeal followed.
reviewing a circuit court's decision regarding the
enforcement of an administrative subpoena, we affirm unless
the decision is unsupported by substantial evidence, is
against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares
or applies the law. Jackson v. Mills, 142 S.W.3d
237, 240 (Mo. App. W.D. 2004) (citing Angoff v. M & M
Mgmt. Corp., 897 S.W.2d 649, 656- 57 (Mo. App. W.D.
1995)). Where, as here, a misapplication of law is asserted,
our review is de novo. Jackson, 142 S.W.3d
first of two points on appeal, the Commission argues that the
circuit court erred in refusing to enforce the subpoena
because the Commission's request comported with
controlling law. Because we find Point One dispositive, we
address that point alone.
generally accepted that the courts will enforce a subpoena
during an administrative investigation if: (1) the inquiry is
within the agency's authority; (2) the demand is not too
indefinite; and (3) the information sought is reasonably
relevant. Angoff v. M & M Mgmt. Corp., 897
S.W.2d 649, 652 (Mo. App. W.D. 1995) (citing Matter of
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