Thursday, August 5, 2021

Area legislator’s campaign finance report prompts questions

Rep. Jewell Jones
The financial report of State Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, has drawn questions from some local lawmakers.

In his required financial fundraising report submitted last week, Jones, 25, claims to have spent more than $6,400 since Jan. 1 at restaurants or lounges. He reportedly spent a total of $15,926, including $12,057 described as “incidental” to his serving in office.

Among his expenses is listed a $221 charge at a strip club in Dearborn. The report, which lists spending from Jan. 1 through July 20, 2021, lists the cost as a “constituent meeting” to “discuss potential economic projects.” The financial reports are required by the state to ensure that candidates and officeholders do not violate state campaign funding or spending laws.  

Jones, when questioned by reporters about the expense, claimed he was unsure the Pantheion Club was a strip club but was a “lounge.” The Pantheion Club is well-known throughout the state as the “oldest and most established gentlemens (sic) club in Michigan,” as it is described on social media.

Also raising questions was a $696 charge at Ferraro's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar in Las Vegas on March 22. The report described the expense as a “dinner meeting with other legislators.” According to the report, Jones spent $514 at Jon's Goodtime Bar & Grill in Inkster for a “Meeting with community stakeholders on potential projects” only a week later, on March 29.

Jones is currently facing criminal charges following an auto accident April 6 in Fowlerville when State Police Troopers responded to 911 calls from several motorists about a car driving erratically on Interstate 96. Local police and troopers found Jones with a female companion in his Chevy Tahoe which had run into a sign and come to rest in a ditch. According to police reports, Jones became extremely agitated at the scene and threatened to “call the governor” and repeatedly refused to produce identification. Officers also observed a loaded handgun in the front seat of the vehicle.

Jones' blood alcohol content, according to police reports, was 0.19. The legal limit in Michigan is 0.08. He is facing trial on charges of resisting arrest, operating while intoxicated, reckless driving and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

State officials said that the purchase of meals by legislators using campaign or officeholder funds is not unusual but said that the totals on Jones' report did appear to stretch “the limits of incredulity.”