Brookhaven mayoral candidate J. Max Davis' late-filing campaign contribution disclosure fine was deleted from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's website on Tuesday morning.
Each of Brookhaven's four mayoral candidates had outstanding fines of $125 for not filing their campaign disclosure reports by Sept. 30, which does not apply to the Brookhaven special election. These erroneous fines were likely the result of a filing schedule error, according to the commission's executive director.
Brookhaven Patch received a forwarded email from Davis that was originally sent to him from Holly LaBerge, the executive director of the commission.
The email read:
Hello Mr. Davis;
Per our phone conversation this morning, you do not have a late fee for the September 30, 2012 EY CCDR. You qualified for a special election and would follow that reporting schedule, not the regular election year schedule. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
In a follow-up call, LaBerge said DeKalb County qualifying officers "entered everyone as qualifying for the general (election), which is incorrect. That is not what Brookhaven is holding."
Brookhaven is holding a special election, which means candidates are required to file their campaign contribution reports by both deadlines of Oct. 28 and of Jan. 8, 2013 to avoid $125 late-filing fees.
Since the Sept. 30 deadline for filing campaign contribution disclosure reports is required for those candidates in the general election, not Brookhaven's special election, any late-filing fees for the Sept. 30 deadline would be inactivated, LaBerge said.
She said the candidates will need to call the commission to get the fees inactivated.
"We'll respond as quickly to them as we can. We're severely short-staffed. It probably won't happen the day they called," LaBerge said.
LaBerge said Davis is the only candidate who has contacted her, and he called her Tuesday (Oct. 23) morning.
"It just so happened that Mr. Davis called this morning at a time when I was sitting at my desk, was not on the phone and was able to take his phone call and was able to take care of his right away. It's not necessarily going to happen with everybody else. It's just going to depend upon what we're in the middle doing when somebody calls," she said.
However, for candidate Sandy Murray, there are two other outstanding fines of $125, for a total of $250, which could still stand since her campaign for State Representative of District 80 is showing as active under one name and terminated under another. The ethics commission website is showing that she did not file her personal candidate financial disclosure report by the June 8 or Aug. 30 deadlines while running for state representative.
UPDATE: Murray filed a personal financial disclosure statement on Oct. 7. However, Murray's campaign manager Tim Alborg said that due to "a clerical error," her financial statement was filed as covering the year 2011, instead of 2012.
The other mayoral candidates have different situations which led to their ethics violation fines.
In the case of candidate Larry Danese, for example, the commission website shows that he did file a campaign disclosure report on Oct. 16, which would have been deemed late for this erroneous filing deadline in the Brookhaven Special election, but actually is late for the deadline required by candidates for DeKalb County Commissioner. Danese had qualified to run for District 1 commissioner in DeKalb, and the commission site shows this campaign as active.
Danese was defeated for this seat in the Georgia Primary election, and he is not on the Nov. 6 ballot for DeKalb County District 1 commissioner. Danese still has an additional outstanding fine of $125 for not disclosing a report of his campaign for District 1 DeKalb County Commissioner.
Danese said he tried to e-file the termination of his commissioner campaign, but there was a technical glitch. He went to the state ethics commission in person and there was directed to take a class about filing campaign disclosure reports.
"In all honesty, I knew more about it than my instructor, who wasn't able to help me," Danese said. "I did my best to rectify that mistake, and I wasn't able to. I was mesmerized by their reluctance to just answer my question and instead had me go to a class."
Danese said he has paid the fine, despite not agreeing that he should have had to do so.
Candidate Thom Shepard also filed a campaign contribution disclosure report on Oct. 15, also late for this incorrect filing deadline which does not apply to the special election.
Brookhaven Patch will continue to report the details as we receive and uncover them.