The timing of campaign contributions
<<< Election complaints filed with state >>>
… Curry Coastal Pilot – May 16, 2014…
Complaints have been filed with the state against opponents of the Home Rule Charter on the May 20 ballot, as well as against County Commissioner David Itzen, who is up for reelection on the same day.
Carl King, who authored the Home Rule Charter, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office last week alleging that the opposing Political Action Committee (PAC) Curry County Protect Your Right to Vote has not reported expenses it should have incurred from placing ads in a Gold Beach newspaper.
County Commissioner David Brock Smith laughed, and said he just received the bills this week.
Smith is one of two people involved with the campaign to defeat Measure 8-76 and who, on behalf of the PAC, has access to the state’s campaign reporting system ORESTAR.
And a complaint has been made to the state against County Commissioner David Itzen, alleging he was late in reporting campaign contributions to his reelection efforts, thus duping those who research his finance campaign online.
Home Rule Charter
“The Curry County Protect Our Right to Vote Committee has been running advertisements in three newspapers since at least April 23, if not earlier,” King wrote in his complaint. “The ads are signed by the committee. The committee has yet to report the cost or value of these ads with you as of today for the ads in two of the newspapers, the Curry County Reporter and the Port Orford News.”
King said he is also curious about the absence of a listing of expenditures for flyers urging voters to defeat the measure and that were sent to Curry County addresses from Cave Junction.
“It’s an unfounded complaint,” said Smith, whose name, along with that of Itzen’s is listed on ORESTAR documents as the candidates controlling the PAC opposing the measure.
“Yes, there are ads in those newspapers, but I can’t pay them until I receive a bill, and I didn’t receive the bills until Monday,” he continued. “I haven’t spoken to (PAC treasurer) Sandra (Ensley), but I have the Port Orford News bill and the Curry County Reporter bill and the bill for the flyers and those are the three items (listed) in the complaint. And it’s been kind of a busy week.”
County commissioners have been in budget hearings all week.
When asked about the complaint King filed, Smith laughed and said he’d just received it Wednesday, as well.
“I appreciate Carl’s diligence, but everything’s in order in regards to the PAC,” Smith said.
Smith and Itzen are listed on the state system because they both have campaigns open through it. Itzen is also up for reelection in the May election. Smith said he is the “alternate filer” for Ensley, and Itzen is the one to whom all correspondence is sent.
Supporters of Measure 8-76 have garnered $4,299 in cash contributions, not including a $2,000 contribution from the International City and County Management Association and $2,500 King made in loans to the PAC. Loan money, if available, is usually paid back to the donor at the end of the election. Those fund totals also do not include in-kind contributions valued at $1,221.
The Curry County Protect Our Right to Vote PAC has, as of Wednesday, reported cash contributions totalling $7,760. The largest single contributors include Frank Smith ($2,000), Tom Tuttle and Dave Snazuk ($1,000 each) and various elected officials — including State Rep. Wayne Krieger — whose donations totalled $2,200.
Itzen’s late filings
A second complaint has been filed against Itzen, who seeks reelection for his Position 1 seat May 20. Those vying against him include Port of Brookings Harbor board member Jim Relaford, Brookings businessman Randy “Dubb” Dowler and Harbor retiree Tom Huxley.
Huxley, of Harbor, who is running against Itzen, said he became curious when, during one of the campaign forums, Itzen indicated he wasn’t sure how much had been contributed to his campaign.
Itzen said “A thousand … maybe $2,000,” when in fact, Huxley noted, much more had been received — just not reported.
Itzen said that when he was asked how much he had received in campaign contributions, he said he was sure it was “several thousand dollars” and recommended citizens consult ORESTAR for details. He said Thursday that, although his treasurer takes care of the finances of his campaign, he takes responsibility for any tardiness on behalf of ORESTAR reporting.
“I find it ironic that I think I’m the only candidate for this office that even attempts to comply with the Secretary of State’s desire for financial transparency, and one who makes no attempt to do so is critical of the one who is making the attempt,” he said in regards to others opting to fill out the P7 form rather than report on ORESTAR.
Itzen reported eight transactions up until Jan. 27, then nothing until May 8, at which point 23 transactions were logged on ORESTAR.
Huxley agreed there is nothing illegal about the late filings, which could incur a fine, but he noted that they resulted in “not quite true” information on ORESTAR for citizens.
“It’s slimy,” Huxley said. “Call it integrity, call it character, a lack of the truth, a cover-up, whatever. There’s right and wrong, and that’s wrong. If they’ll do this, what else will they do? Or rather, what else won’t they do?”
The complaint targets campaign contributions that were filed in the ORESTAR system after deadline.
According to Secretary of State compliance specialist Lisa Ackerson, money received or spent through a campaign before March 8 was due to be reported within 30 days. Contributions received or money spent between March 9 and April 7 are due by April 15; anything after April 7 — where campaign filers stand now — must be reported within seven days of the transaction.
Ackerson said the office does pursue late or insufficient reports, fining campaigns a half-percent of the transaction amount per business day. The maximum penalty is 10 percent of the transaction.
If the campaign accrues $50 or less in penalties in a calendar month, the fine is forgiven, she said. Any fine above that, however, results in a notice to the campaigner.
The last time the figures were updated for any May 20 election race issue or candidate throughout the state was Jan. 14.
“We give them those three months to remedy the situation,” Ackerson said.
Itzen doesn’t deny the tardiness of his reports, nor the inaccuracies, for which he takes full responsibility.
Regardless, his campaign reported contributions totalling $2,400 up until Jan. 27; an additional 23 reports totalling $2,475 were filed May 8 — and he received the complaint the following day.
“In football, this is called ‘piling on’,” Itzen said. “You normally get no credit for crying foul well after the referee has thrown the flag. And I will take the responsibility for any mistakes to this date in my campaign as many of these reporting errors are clearly mistakes.”
Itzen has numerous late reports, according to the ORESTAR site, with many from the first week in March put in the system on May 8. There were no transactions reported between April 1 and 24. No notice has been issued — yet, Ackerson said.
“We made a few mistakes in the reporting end in my last campaign, as well,” Itzen said. “You pay dearly to the Secretary of State’s office in fines.”