September 3, 2011 in Washington Voices

Event expenses go unreported

Candidates shared tent rental, food costs
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Confusion reigned early this week among four Spokane Valley City Council candidates over who had donated what for a joint campaign event in July, but candidates were able to quickly find the bills for the event after being asked for them.

Candidates Dean Grafos, Chuck Hafner, Arne Woodard and Marilyn Cline held the event on July 7 on vacant commercial property owned by businessman Jack Pring across from University City. A to Z Rental provided a tent and chairs and food was purchased for a barbecue, but until Wednesday only Cline had reported her share of the tent rental as an in-kind donation on required Public Disclosure Commission forms. No one else reported the cost of the tent and none of the four listed the donation of food.

All four candidates said they had agreed to split the amounts equally. Hafner said he thought all the donations had been reported by his treasurer, Ken Wisenor. It was Wisenor who paid $91.86 for hot dogs, buns, condiments and beverages. “The only thing I can think of is perhaps the billing hasn’t been brought forward,” Hafner said. “All those things I thought had been taken care of in a proper manner.”

Woodard said he planned to report the donations as soon as he got the bills. “It’s not on there yet, but it will be,” he said. “I don’t want to be in violation.”

Cline said she received a bill from A to Z rental for the tent and chairs and passed it along to her treasurer, Bill Bates. Cline also said there was food left over after the campaign event that she purchased from Wisenor for a National Night Out event she hosted, making each candidate’s total donation $14.71 for the food.

Bates said he had the invoice from A to Z Rental for $280, but didn’t realize the other campaigns had not gotten their own copies. By Wednesday he had filed an amended report with the commission that listed the food donation from Wisenor in addition to the previously reported $70 in-kind donation from A to Z Rentals for the tent.

“I didn’t get those invoices, but I’ll get them today,” said Grafos on Tuesday. Hours later he had the bills for the food and tent rental in hand. “We’ll have to put that in there on the in-kind donations,” he said.

The other sticking point is that none of the candidates reported the use of the commercial property used for the event as an in-kind donation. That is required, said filer assistance specialist Jennifer Hansen of the commission. Hansen said she was contacted by representatives of Cline and Hafner this week, who asked if they needed to report the use of the property as an in-kind donation. “So they’re both going to be going in to figure out what the cost is,” she said.

The event happened in early July and all donations, in-kind or otherwise, should have been reported by now, Hansen said. “They are late and the campaigns are aware that they are late,” she said. “That should have been reported earlier.”

Still, Hansen said the commission will likely not begin disciplinary action against the candidates unless a complaint is received. Some of the candidates have already self-reported the error and only a small amount of money is involved, she said.

“It’s not all right for it to be late, of course,” she said. “We just don’t have the resources to do enforcement for everything that comes through.”


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