F’ville campaign reports: Candidates say they spent $32K

Some candidates’ disclosures seem to confuse expenses, donations

The final state-required campaign disclosure records for the 2011 Fayetteville municipal elections have been filed by the candidates. Records show that the races for mayor and two council seats generated a total of $32,000 in contributions. Those numbers, however, may not be totally accurate.

It should be stated at the outset that, for better or worse, campaign disclosure filings are not an exact science. Whether in Fayetteville or in the disclosure statements for races in other localities, some candidates seem to confuse in-kind contributions with cash contributions, appear to confuse contributions with expenses and do not always list previous amounts of either in the opening section of the document for each reporting period. Such errors can make it difficult to correctly determine the exact amounts that have been received or spent.

As stated in reports, the records filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly known as the state Ethics Commission, indicate that $12,868 was raised in the mayor’s race between incumbent Ken Steele and challenger Greg Clifton.

Former Mayor Ken Steele in his Dec. 31 disclosure report listed $10,975 in total contributions, nearly all of which had been listed on the Oct. 25 disclosure report. Expenditures also totaled $10,975.

Steele’s challenger and current Mayor Greg Clifton in his Dec. 31 filing listed no contributions or expenditures throughout his run for office. Yet in his Oct. 25 disclosure report Clifton listed $50 in contributions and $1,893 in expenditures. Records show that Clifton paid for the signs used in his campaign though he only listed $50 in the contributions category of the campaign disclosure documents.

State records pertaining to the Post 1 race between incumbent Wilson Price and challenger Ed Johnson show that $8,308 was raised by the two candidates.

Post 1 Councilman Ed Johnson had Oct. 25 amended disclosure reports on file with the state along with the Dec. 31 report. Johnson in the amended report listed $154 in contributions from in-kind sources and $1,017 in cash contributions. That brought the total for the year to $3,392 in cash contributions and $154 from in-kind sources. The amended report also showed expenditures for the year to $2,653.

Noted in the expenditures section was $265 from Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown for “Campaign advertising (shared cost for three people).” That amount was not included in the contributions portion of the amended report.

Post 1 incumbent Wilson Price in his filings showed $2,882 in total contributions and approximately $3,200 in expenses.

Records for the Post 2 race between Mickey Edwards and Cathy Cochran show a total of $10,824 in contributions.

Councilman Mickey Edwards in his various filings showed that he had personally financed his campaign. Records show a total of $7,068 in contributions and the same amount in expenses.

Post 2 candidate Cathy Cochran in her Dec. 30 report showed a year-end total of $3,756 in contributions and $3,139 in expenses. Nearly all those contributions were listed in her previous filings.

In total, at least in the amounts listed, the 2011 municipal races in Fayetteville saw $32,000 in total contributions.

Whether required by law to be considered an in-kind donation or not, Clifton, Johnson and Edwards apparently benefitted from a significant contribution from the The “Let Your Voice Be Heard-Committee” PAC (Political Action Committee) that contributed $7,617 in advertising their candidacy through a mailer. None of the three candidates listed the Let Your Voice Be Heard-Committee in their disclosure statements.

According to its records provided to The Citizen, the Let Your Voice Be Heard-Committee is essentially bankrolled by former Fayette County Commissioner Harold Bost who, in recent election cycles, has extended his political and financial support to successful candidates for the Fayette County Commission and, more recently, the Fayetteville City Council.

Under state law, the Let Your Voice Be Heard-committee is not required to register with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission since it has not received or spent the minimum $25,000 in one calendar year that triggers such reporting.

Bost in the Dec. 31 report showed $6,790.01 in cash contributions and $827 in in-kind contributions. A breakdown for the reporting period totaled $6,740 in cash that came from Bost and in-kind contributions totaling $827 from Bob Ross for items such as layout and photo work.

Expenditures totaled $6,690, with $3,420 spent for printing and $3,270 for postage.

The Citizen previously reported on the campaign mailer designed to promote the candidacy of Clifton, Johnson and Edwards. Each of the three candidates contacted at the time acknowledged having prior knowledge and having given their consent to have their candidacy endorsed in the mailer.