Campaign Finance Laws Don’t Seem to Matter

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by Marion Markslaw_says_PAY

Whatever the law in Louisiana, candidates for public office write their own laws as the campaigns progress, if you follow the trail of broken laws in some campaign reports.* Both the Patrick Williams Report and Ollie Tyler Report appear to have total disregard for the campaign finance limitations, given that donors and “funders” give money with no regard to the $2,500 per donor and $7,500 per family limitation per race.

Settle LoansPatrick Williams & John Settle seemed to have aligned as a financial unit for the mayor’s race, with the Settle family unit loaning Williams a total of $64,745.44 even after the $7,500 donation they gave and is allowed by law.

The amazing issue is that the loan appears to be no more than a “Cash-Flow Tool” that floated the campaign during fund raising, even though the funds have not materialized at the rate Williams needed to continue purchasing billboards and other campaign material at the rate needed to propel his campaign. 

Williams took out a loan to repay Settle family, but the proof of money transferring seems to be only based on dates supplied in the report rather than documents requested by the media.Williams Loans

Williams loaned his committee $81,500.00 and supposedly took out a personal loan to repay the Settles. So, BIG Fund raisers are this week and next. And with “secret” polling showing Williams in a hole, the funds can’t come in quickly enough.

Ollie Tyler on the other hand has allowed donors to “Make Loans” to her campaign by exceeding the allowable limit of $2,500 per donation on at least four donations on her report. Such donations are clearly a violation of the State election laws and are a way of providing an extra $10,000 in cash to the needed funds. $2,500 of this is allowable as a donation, but the excess is at least very sloppy campaign reporting.

If the manner in which these two candidates manage their finances and campaigns reflects how they would manage the city, I don’t feel comfortable about the business or ethics practices they would bring to city hall. Shreveport has enough trouble managing finances that voters should also be appalled by such treatment of campaign laws.

Fathless-Execution-the-Rule-of-Law*Mr. Patrick Williams is a candidate in the Shreveport Mayor election scheduled for November 4, 2014. On October 6, 2014 Mr. Williams filed a “30th day prior to primary” Candidate’s Report with the Louisiana Board of Ethics. On Schedule B: Loans Received page 40 of the report it list three loans received by Patrick Williams for the campaign. The details are as follows:

  1. Identified as being from Bike LLC. It was made on June 19, 2014, with an interest rate of 0.32% in the amount of $29,745.44. The report reflects that the loan was repaid on September 15, 2014;

  2. Identified as being from Haleaux LLC. It was made on July 1, 2014, with an interest rate of 0.31% in the amount of $25,000.00. The report reflects that the loan was repaid on September 15, 2014;

  3. Identified as being from Diane Steen. It was made on July 18, 2014, with an interest rate of 0.31% in the amount of $10,000.00. The report reflects that the loan was repaid on September 15, 2014.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s records show the following:

  1. Bike LLC’s sole member is John E. Settle, Jr. with an address of 1915 Citizens Bank Dr., Bossier City, La. 71111. Its Manager is Kathy A. Condon;

  2. Haleaux LLC’s sole member is Angela Newberry with an address of 2416 Ashdown Drive, Bossier City, Louisiana 71111. (Note: Angela Newberry is a paralegal for the ArkLaTex Title Company).

  3. ArkLaTex Title Company is owned by John E. Settle, Jr. with an address of 1915 Citizens Bank Dr., Bossier City, Louisiana 71111.

  4. Diane Steen with an address of 6121 Fern Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana 71106 is the spouse of John E. Settle, Jr. The Caddo Parish Tax Assessor’s records show that 6121 Fern Ave. No. 121, Shreveport, Louisiana 71106 is owned by Diane Steen and John E. Settle, Jr.h

LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H)(1)(a)(ii) establishes that the contributions made to candidates for a District Office cannot exceed $2,500.00.

The “30th day prior to primary” Candidate’s Report filed by Mr. Williams shows the following donations: 

  1. Bike, LLC $2,500.00 on April 28, 2014 (pg.6)

  2. Diane Steen $2,500.00 on July 1, 2014 (pg. 31)

LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H)(3)(b) provides, “No person shall make a loan …for more than $25.00 …” and LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H)(3)(c) provides “No candidate … shall accept from the same contributor a loan …for more than $25.00 …”. LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H)(3)(d) provides “… no person shall make a loan …to a candidate … with funds loaned to him without disclosing … the source of the funds …”.

LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(J)(a) provides “Any candidate … who violates any provision of Subsection H … shall be assessed a penalty of not more than five thousand dollars or the amount of the violation, whichever is greater, except that the penalty for a knowing and willful violation shall be not more than ten thousand dollars or two hundred percent of the violation, whichever is greater.”

LSA R.S. 18:1505.6(C) provides, “Any candidate … or any person who knowingly, willfully, and fraudulently violates any provision of R.S. 18:1505.2 … shall upon conviction, be sentenced to not in excess of six months in the parish jail or to pay a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or both.”

LSA R.S. 18:1511.1, et seq. govern the Enforcement of the above cited statutes. The statutes provide that all allegations of violations of Campaign Finance laws is investigated by the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure. If the Committee determines that a knowing,willful and fraudulent violation or an intentional criminal violation occurred the committee shall forward all information to the district attorney of the judicial district in which the violation occurred.

Regarding the penalties – State v. Ourso, 2006 CA 1467 (La. App. 1St Cir), June 8, 2007 A candidate for District Court Judge in the 21st JDC filed financial reports as per the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act. The Board investigated whether a loan to the candidate by his parents was made with funds that belonged to the candidate through a trust or funds belonging to his parents. The court found that the funds belonged to the candidate’s parents and therefore was a violation of the limits established by LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H). The court determined that the appropriate civil penalty for such acts was the amount of the loan which was $40,311.89 plus legal interest.

NOTE: Loans from banks are allowed – LSA R.S. 18:1505.2(H)(6)(a) provides “”For the purposes of this subsection, “loan” shall not include any loan of money from a state bank, a federally chartered depository institution …”

Ollie Tyler’s contributors who exceed the $2,500 allowable limit fail likewise as does her campaign to follow the State laws.

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