published Monday, May 20th, 2013

Corporate, PAC cash left off campaign reports

REPORTING DISCREPANCIES

Here are discrepancies found between reported PAC and corporation giving and reports filed by legislative candidates and Gov. Bill Haslam. State Registry of Election Finance officials say such differences are almost always simple omissions or other mistakes:

REP. TURNER, MIKE — $19,875

CANDIDATE NORTH, PHILLIP L. — $13,900

REP. MITCHELL, BO — $11,250

CANDIDATE COBB, TY — $8,000

FORMER REP. MAGGART, DEBRA - $6,800

SEN. KETRON, BILL — $6,100

REP. TIDWELL, JOHN - $6,000

FORMER REP. PRUITT, MARY— $5,250

REP. STEWART, MIKE — $5,000

REP. ARMSTRONG, JOE — $3.900

CANDIDATE CLAYBAKER, BEN — $3,000

REP. DOSS, BARRY — $2,900

REP. MATHENY, JUDD — $2,850

REP. HARDAWAY, G. A. — $2,800

REP. ANTONIO, PARKINSON — $2,750

REP. ROGERS, COURTNEY L. — $2,750

REP. LYNN, SUSAN — $2,700

REP. CARR, JOE — $2,650

CANDIDATE TIPTON, ANITA — $2,500

SEN. HARPER, THELMA — $2,500

REP. LOLLAR, RON — $2,500

REP. SPARKS, MIKE — $2,350

FORMER REP. RICHARDSON, JEANNE — $2,300

SEN. GREEN, MARK — $2,250

REP. DEBERRY, JOHN - $2,200

REP. CASADA, GLEN — $2,000

REP. HOLT, ANDREW — $1,750

REP. BROWN, TOMMIE — $1,250

REP. CALFEE, KENT — $1,250

REP. GREEN, MARK E. — $2,250

REP. SANDERSON, BILL — $1,200

REP. FORD, DALE — $1,000

REP. FARMER, ANDREW — $1,000

GOV. HASLAM, BILL — $1,000

REP. JONES, SHERRY — $1,000

SEN. STEVENS, JOHN — $1,000

REP. TOWNS JR., JOE — $1,000

REP. CAMPER, KAREN — $750

SEN. NICELEY, FRANK — $700

FORMER SEN. BARNES, TIM — $500

REP. FAVORS, JOANNE — $500

CANDIDATE MORGAN, PHIL — $500

REP. PITTS, JOE — $500

REP. RAGAN, JOHN — $1,000

REP. RICH, BARRETT — $500

CANDIDATE TURNER, STEVEN — $500

SEN. CROWE, RUSTY — $500

REP. MATLOCK, JIMMY — $400

CANDIDATE YOUNG, KENNY — $250

REP. POWERS, DENNIS — $250

REP. SHIPLEY, TONY — $250

REP. WOMICK, RICK — $250

PAC and corporation cross-index data
PAC and corporation cross-index data

NASHVILLE — Fifty-one legislative candidates last year failed to report a total of $145,875 in contributions from political action committees and corporations, according to a state watchdog agency's check of campaign finance filings.

Among them were two top House leaders. One, Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, sponsored a bill this year that critics charged would weaken current law by exempting corporations from having to report contributions.

Another was one of the fiercest opponents of Casada's bill, Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. The bill failed on the House floor by two votes.

The Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance cross-indexes contribution reports from corporations and PACs with those of candidates to check for mistakes. Last year, they found 181 reported contributions not listed on candidates' reports.

Bureau records show Casada, of Thompson Station, didn't include two PAC contributions of $1,000 each.

Turner, of Nashville, didn't report 18 contributions totaling $19,875. Turner's was the highest figure found by the bureau.

Both lawmakers were taken aback when informed of the omissions last week and said they didn't recall being notified of problems by state officials. Neither is backing off his stance on the bill.

Casada said he intends to bring his bill back next year. While it exempts corporations from having to report, PACs still would have to file.

Turner, who said he was "shocked" by the 18 omissions on his disclosures, said he will again oppose exempting corporations.

Of the 181 contributions not reported by candidates, 15, totaling about $9,100, were from corporations.

Among others with omissions was Gov. Bill Haslam, whose campaign omitted a $1,000 PAC contribution on a disclosure. An amended filing on the Registry of Election Finance's website shows that was later corrected.

Thirty-seven sitting lawmakers omitted contributions, according to the state. Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, of Murfreesboro, left off seven contributions totaling $6,100.

House Government Operations Committee Chairman Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, a former House speaker pro tempore, omitted seven contributions totaling $2,850. Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, a congressional candidate, omitted five contributions totaling $2,650.

Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, left off two PAC contributions of $250 each. Former Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, omitted two PAC and one corporate contribution totaling $1,750.

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said the 181 omitted contributions amount to 2.5 percent of all contributions PACs or corporations reported.

"When you consider that 97.5 percent were reported accurately, that's an excellent figure," Rawlins said. He said problems stem from things like losing deposit slips, forgetting to include a contributor's name and checks never sent or deposited.

"I don't know if we've ever seen a case of intentional nonreporting," Rawlins said.

Candidates who have one or two unlisted contributions totaling $2,000 or less may simply correct their reports.

For larger totals, members of the Registry of Election Finance decide whether the omissions merit further action. That can include civil fines of as much as $10,000. Rawlins said nearly everyone corrects problems.

The agency is still sorting through 2012 reports, he said, with notices still going out.

Favors, who also opposed Casada's bill, initially didn't recall getting a notice of omission. But after checking her records, she later said she had tried to amend her report online but was unable to get the site to accept the change.

Favors said a campaign volunteer had handled her pre-primary disclosure report, where the problem arose. Favors defeated Brown in a primary battle after their districts were merged.

"My problem was I had someone keeping my books for me, and every time I have someone else do it, they don't realize how critical" it is to nail down all details, Favors said.

She said she supports the cross-checks and opposes exempting corporations from reporting. Corporate contributions became legal in 2011.

Casada said he hasn't been notified of any problems with his reports.

"I'll have to find out," he said, noting that sometimes PACs didn't actually deliver a check to him until well after the group's books showed it was written. Or he might have thought the money was intended for his leadership PAC when the contributor thought it was for his personal campaign account, he added.

"There's a whole host of things that could go wrong there," Casada said. "When I get my notice I'll track it down."

But Casada still thinks corporations shouldn't have to file reports on their contributions. It's enough that candidates report them.

"If someone's going to commit a felony or commit a bribe, if you will, they're going to do it," he said, noting there are laws dealing with such crimes.

He pointed out the state doesn't cross-index for individuals or limited liability corporations.

"I contend corporations ought to be treated like people and LLCs, not like PACs," Casada said.

Reminded that corporations and PACs can contribute more than individuals, Casada said the amounts "are larger but not that much larger."

Still, he said, "I'm going to take that bill back and tweak it. I've got a little more work left to do to make it palatable to the majority."

Asked about his multiple omissions, Turner said, "I don't have a clue what to tell you. That amount of money just blows my mind."

A spokesman said Friday that Turner is amending his disclosure and trying to determine whether he deposited some of the checks in his leadership PAC.

Turner said he thinks keeping the cross-matching for corporations is important.

"Treating corporations like individuals is a problem," he said. "I think the cross-checking helps you find mistakes ... and that makes it harder to do something illegal."

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.