by Marion Marks
Amazingly campaigns limp along on money, aspirations and vapor, rather than substantive platforms and transparency. Campaign Finance Reports released last week only bolstered many hollow aspirations. Yet platforms with substantive plans that would improve Shreveport remain background window dressing in most campaigns. Voters are numb, yet don’t appear surprised by more bad news from the leaders. Any hint of believable constructive campaign news probably could move the voter meter.
The Shreveport Times explained away some campaign irregularities, However I see them as clear violations of campaign finance laws. To the Times they’re merely book-keeping errors of those who seek to be mayor. Candidate Ollie Tyler Friday, on 710 KEEL, explained three $5,000 gifts as being husband-wife joint donations of $2,500 each carelessly accepted in single checks. Tyler omitted the fact that two others could not be so easily explained away. But, Tyler has filed an amended report, dated October 10, that corrects some errors. Her math in totaling the sheets on the amended report still requires better bookkeeping!
Tyler failed to relate that upon checking the accuracy in her new report that fact-checkers had cornered her on the two non-correctable (illegal) donations. Tyler decided at this point she would skip a scheduled appearance on KEEL Monday morning. FAIL Tyler for clear violation of state law and failure to be transparent in who are her donors and reporting.
Patrick Williams is still trying to explain the timeline for the $64,000+ “Loaned” to his campaign by the John Settle family interests. Close examination of his report indicates the funds were necessary for the Williams campaign to rent an office, buy billboards, bus benches, flyers, T-shirts, and all the other paraphernalia required to get the campaign out of the starter block before fund raising really got off the ground. Obviously a little illegal activity didn’t rate high on the “Honor the Law” scale.
State laws regarding loans make it clear that the manner in which these loans were made may have been reported correctly, but they are still against the law. Clearly the next mayor would not want a record of knowingly violating the law in this manner, I would think. Another FAIL for a candidate on the grounds of lacking transparency and unethical approach to state law.
Victoria Provenza‘s report establishes a clear record of engaging a large number of citizens who may never have been a part of the city political process. Her fund-raising effort brought a large number of small contributions, and closer examination and questioning of the candidate revealed that she refused a check that would have violated the law when it was revealed that the check exceeded the legal limit. A PASS for a candidate who understands how the law is intended to work and the real meaning of transparency. The total dollars raised may not have been large enough to get a broad message out, but she continues to raise money after the cutoff date that allows signs to go up and grass roots support appearing to grow.
However, on a negative note, KTBS reported that a video I filmed for the Krewe of Highland Mardi Gras Bal showed Ms Provenza under the influence of what appeared to be alcohol and out of control during the presentation when she was co-captain of the Krewe in 2012-2013. When I refused to allow this private video to be made public, members of the Williams campaign insisted that I was covering up for Provenza and also the fact that my company had given $50 to her campaign. [WOW, Big Spender, buying influence!]
Williams, Tyler and other campaigns have also received in-kind services from me, according to the claims of others, because I filmed forums or made material public that was used by campaigns. The $50 I gave was a courtesy for the invitation to an event where I felt obligated to cover the cost of food and drink, so now that’s public. I won’t make that mistake again, even though it will come out I have committed this sin elsewhere.
In truth, I helped Mr Williams in another campaign when he ran for the LA legislature, but his supporters probably would prefer I not disclose that fact. For their information, videos used without the express consent of any client and the videographer who shot the video are improperly used. It would be a professional and ethical violation if these were improperly aired. As an owner, I would sue for inappropriate use of my videos.
Ms Provenza will certainly explain more about the event because people always look for what they want to find, when it seems easily explained in her KTBS interview. But, this distraction appears only a minor inconvenience to the Provenza campaign that has addressed issues voters should find substantive. Lots more water will flow under the Texas Street Bridge before election day.