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Cool Valley mayor who promised bitcoin to residents faces impeachment over missing funds

The city council hearing Wednesday night resulted in a 3-1 vote to impeach Jayson Stewart from office.

COOL VALLEY, Mo. — The Cool Valley City Council held a hearing to impeach and remove Mayor Jayson Stewart from office Wednesday night after his alleged nefarious use of COVID-19 relief funds, among other accusations.

Craig Smith, with the council, said the bill of impeachment alleges:

  • Stewart used a city-owned vehicle and credit card for personal use, in violation of a city ordinance and the Board of Alderman.
  • Stewart failed to take apparent action or ensure the city clerk prepared a 2022-23 fiscal budget for the BOA by Oct. 1.
  • He failed to ensure the city clerk had access to what she needed to fulfill her duties as city clerk or issued a business license approved by the BOA in ordinance with a Cool Valley city code.
  • He failed to ensure that the city clerk provided city financial information and documentation to the BOA, including but not limited to bank account balances, receipts and possible expenditure of COVID-19 relief funds totaling $230,000,
  • He failed to take appropriate action or ensure the city clerk take appropriate action so city officials had access to computerized financial records and the city’s bank accounts by providing usable passwords and signature cards to the acting city clerk and Alderman Floyd Blackwell.

The council was told if they find Stewart committed one or more of these allegations, they can decide whether Stewart should be removed from office.

The burden of proof was on the city and the city's prosecutor. This is not a criminal case, so the council used “the preponderance of evidence” to vote on a decision. This is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” in a criminal case.

Before the BOA made the decision Wednesday night, Smith asked the board whether any of them would be impartial or biased to the presentation of evidence. They answered, "no."

The hearing resulted in a 3-1 vote to impeach Stewart from office.

Stewart emailed the city resigning, saying he was "retiring from politics." The board did not accept the email because it is not an official way to resign.

On Feb. 22, the board will meet again to vote to adopt impeachment.

In 2021, the tiny Missouri town of Cool Valley could’ve become the first in the country to put bitcoin in the hands of every resident.

Stewart said in August of that year he was raising funds to give each of the town’s roughly 1,500 inhabitants a piece of the digital currency. 

Stewart said most of the money to fund the plan will come from several unnamed bitcoin investors. He also did not rule out using city funds to help raise up to several million dollars that he said some very supportive donors agreed to match. He said he was trying to get a few government funds to also donate or use some COVID-19 relief money.  

At the time, details about how bitcoin would be distributed were still unclear. 

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