"All I can confirm is that the investigation is ongoing," said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the D.A.'s Office.
- Bob Warner
Election watchdogs grow teeth
City election officials are getting tougher with candidates about reporting last-minute donations to their political campaigns.
The City Commissioners Office and the city Board of Ethics have sent notices to candidates, levying or threatening to levy thousands of dollars in fines for the slow identification of people who gave them money just before the May 17 primary.
In the last two weeks of campaigning for any state or local office, contributions of $500 or more are supposed to be reported within 24 hours to county election officials.
Candidates in Philadelphia have to provide two sets of reports - a paper filing with the City Commissioners Office at Delaware Avenue and Spring Garden Street, and an electronic filing with the city Board of Ethics.
The contribution reports are considered public records, immediately open to inspection by reporters, other candidates, and the public. The electronic filing is immediately posted to a city website.
Over the years, some candidates have followed the 24-hour rule; others have not, failing to identify last-minute donors until more complete reports are due, 30 days after the election.
This year, candidates are paying for their tardiness.
Tim Dowling, who keeps track of campaign filings for the city commissioners, sent letters last month to 37 candidates in the May primary, telling them they owed a collective $27,550 in fines for late or missing reports.
The biggest bill was for $2,790, sent to Stephanie Singer, a Democratic candidate for city commissioner who is virtually certain to become one of Dowling's bosses in January. Her campaign was apparently unaware that 24-hour reports had to be filed on paper with Dowling's office.
"It was a staff mistake," Singer said. "The fines were legit and I paid them."
So many candidates failed to file 24-hour reports with the city Board of Ethics that the board granted an extension until July 8, flouting the basic purpose of the rule: to force preelection disclosure of all donors.
Even with the extension, five candidates failed to meet the deadline, including Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Republican Council candidate Al Taubenberger. - Bob Warner