Towns gets another $10,000 campaign finance fine

State Rep. Joe Towns, who has long held the record among sitting legislators for being penalized for campaign finance law violations, got another $10,000 fine added to his total Wednesday by the Registry of Election Finance.

The board voted to access the fine because Towns, D-Memphis, filed his first quarter 2016 disclosure four months late, ignoring various notices in the process. He previously has paid $65,000 in civil penalties dating back to 1996.

Under state law, a legislator is barred from seeking reelection if he or she has an unpaid civil penalty for a campaign violation. But Towns tells the Tennessean he intends to appeal the ruling, which would block any final enforcement until at least December – well after Towns is reelected on Nov. 8. He has no Republican opponent in the heavily Democratic district. Further:

“It slipped through the cracks,” Towns said, later adding, “life happens.”

Towns said the fines he’s faced in the past for late filings were “too high” while also calling campaign finance officials “out of control.”

“They need to be looked at. They need to be reviewed,” he said.

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