Hard times for the Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY — Scott Faughn and two of his publications, the Missouri Times and SEMO Times, owe more $17,000 on overdue bills for state taxes and commercial printing, according to creditor lawsuits filed recently in Cole County Circuit Court.

Petitions, lawsuits and tax liens show $7,842 is owed to the state of Missouri for taxes, and $9,518 is owed to the Central Missouri Newspapers, Inc. for printing. Some of the unpaid bills go back to 2014.

The largest single bill, $5,304, is owed by the Missouri Times to the Missouri Department of Labor, Division of Employment Security for unpaid unemployment insurance taxes covering the period between April 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The agency filed a certificate of assessment of contributions, interest and penalties with the court on Dec. 17, 2015.

“The certificate of assessment of contributions, interest, and penalties is an enforceable tax lien filed in circuit court for failure to file quarterly contribution and wage reports or pay state unemployment taxes when due,” said Lauren Schad, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor. “When payment is received, the Division of Employment Security will file a satisfaction and release of certificate with the court.”

Central Missouri Newspapers, Inc. is the commercial printing company of the Jefferson City News-Tribune. It filed two petitions on Jan. 21, seeking $4,518 for unpaid bills for production of the Missouri Times between May and October of last year, and $5,000 for unpaid printing bills for the SEMO Times between September and December, 2014. Both petitions name Faughn as the companies’ registered agent. A hearing is schedule for March 30.

Myra Long, comptroller of Central Missouri Newspapers, said Faughn has made some payments.

“He is working with us, but we haven’t wrapped things up officially with the court yet,” Long said. “We will notify the court if he pays up ahead of time.”

Central Missouri Newspapers no longer prints Faughn’s publications. “He’s found a different printer,” Long said.

The Missouri Department of Revenue has filed five separate tax liens totaling $2,538 against the Missouri Times for unpaid withholding taxes beginning in June 2014, and ending in June of last year.

“If they are not paid, the taxpayer receives at least four notices before a lien is filed,” said Michelle Gleba, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue. “When a lien is released, a release is filed with the recorder of deeds. When an administrative judgment is satisfied, a satisfaction is filed with the circuit court.”

A reporter attempted to interview Faughn about his companies’ money troubles. The Missouri Times is headquartered at 129 East High St. in Jefferson City. A reporter found Faughn there at the top of a two-story walkup, inside a darkened room resembling a lounge.

Faughn was standing behind a bar in the room with a laptop computer in front of him. Liquor bottles stood on shelves on the wall behind him. Black and white photos of politicians covered the other walls of the room.

Faughn declined a face-to-face interview. He said he would consider written questions sent by email. Questions were emailed March 17. Faughn acknowledged receiving them March 21, but said he could not respond until next week.

Faughn, the former mayor of Poplar Bluff, launched the Missouri Times in 2013 with former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton. Faughn was Jetton’s former campaign manager. Jetton has since severed ties with the operation.

In addition to Faughn, the Missouri Times has two employees who put out a weekly tabloid and posts state government information on an Internet web site. Faughn also hosts a weekly Sunday morning television show, This Week in Missouri Politics, on four stations.

Although some members of the Missouri Capitol News Association questioned the editorial independence of the Missouri Times last year, the press group has allocated office and parking spaces for the publication. In 2007, Faughn was convicted by a Cape Girardeau County jury of three counts of felony forgery. In that case, he was accused of forging checks for an account for a highway expansion project.

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