LONGMONT — The Longmont city clerk is asking Mayor Julia Pirnack to explain discrepancies between the dates listed for some of her campaign contributions and when they were were reported.
Of the donations Pirnack’s campaign listed in an Oct. 26 report, 13 contributions totaling $2,920 were dated between Sept. 15 and Oct. 8. The donations received on or before Oct. 8 should have been reported Oct. 11, according to city clerk Valeria Skitt.
On Friday afternoon, Skitt sent a letter to Pirnack requesting “an explanation in writing as to why these contributions were not included on your first campaign report.” The explanation is due by Nov. 4, three days after the election.
“It’s more of an inquiry than an accusation or identification of violations,” city spokesman Rigo Leal said. “(The city clerk) won’t know what the next steps will be until she hears back from the mayor.”
“These aren’t violations,” said Frannie Follick-Hood, a spokeswoman for Pirnack. “I don’t think there’s going to be any problem explaining this to Valeria Skitt.”
Pirnack was not available for an interview Friday night, Follick-Hood said.
The mayor’s campaign accountant says the donations in question were reported on time, but the dates on the contribution report didn’t reflect when they were received.
“If I had it, I reported it,” said Debra Edwards, Pirnack’s campaign
The required campaign-finance report has a column to record the date of each contribution, but it does not specify whether the information entered should be the date a check was written, the date it was mailed or the date the campaign received it.
Edwards said the date she entered on the report for the 13 contributions in question was the date the checks were written, not the date she received them.
“Sometimes people hand checks around which take a while to get to me,” she said. “It depends on who hands the checks to whom.”
Edwards said she does not believe anyone intentionally held on to checks.
Part of the delay may come from the donors themselves.
“They don’t necessarily mail them when they write the checks,” Follick-Hood said. For example, a $500 check to Pirnack’s campaign from the Multi-Family Housing Alliance was dated Oct. 7, but the cover letter with it was dated Oct. 13, and it was mailed sometime after that, Follick-Hood said.
“This is a big tempest in a teapot,” she said.
Skitt acknowledged that the report’s form may need to be clarified, but she said the issue never has come up before.
She was reviewing Pirnack’s campaign report “with a fine-tooth comb” when she noticed the discrepancy regarding the dates, Skitt said Friday. She then reviewed the other candidates’ reports, all of which listed donations only after Oct. 8.
Pirnack’s campaign-finance reports have become a hot topic in the mayoral race this week.
A report filed Oct. 11 did not include $5,000 spent on advertising in the Daily Times-Call. Pirnack apologized for the oversight and filed an amended report listing the expenses Oct. 21. Still, Edwards explained Friday that the campaign had not been billed for the advertisements when the Oct. 11 report was filed.
Also this week, six pages of the Oct. 26 campaign-finance report were filed more than an hour after the noon deadline.
“I don’t think anybody’s trying to hide anything,” Edwards said. “We’re trying to report everything the best we can.”
Nonetheless, one of Pirnack’s opponents in the mayoral race, Glenn Spagnuolo, has made her campaign-finance reports a point of contention. He said Thursday he intends to file a formal complaint alleging campaign-finance reporting violations to the secretary of state. He told the Daily Times-Call on Friday that he and other critics of the mayor will hold off on doing so until they see how Pirnack responds to the city clerk’s request.
Skitt said both she and the city attorney will review Pirnack’s explanation.
“We’re going to do it as quickly as we can,” she said.
City law requires reports
The Longmont Municipal Code specifies what reports candidates are required to file before and after an election. The ordinance reads:
A. All candidate committees, political committees and issue committees shall report to the city clerk their contributions received, including the name and address of each person who has contributed $20 or more; expenditures made; and obligations entered into by the committee or party.
B. 1. Such reports that are required to be filed with the city clerk shall be filed on the 21st day and on the Wednesday before and 30 days after the election in election years and annually in off-election years on the first day of the month in which the anniversary of the election occurs. ...
C. The reports required by this section shall include the balance of funds at the beginning of the reporting period, the total of contributions received, the total of expenditures made during the reporting period and the name and address of the financial institution used by the committee.
3. All reports filed with the city clerk under this subsection B shall be subject to the following:
a. The reporting period for all reports required to be filed with the city clerk shall close two calendar days before the effective day of filing. ...
A. It is unlawful under this Act for any person to violate Sections 2.04.204 through 2.04.210 of this chapter. It is also unlawful under this Act for any person to fail to disclose any contribution or expenditure on any report filed under this Act. The court shall impose a fine of at least $300 for each violation.
B. Candidates shall be personally liable for fines imposed against the candidate’s committee.
C. Each day that a statement or other information required to be filed by this Act is not filed by the time due constitutes a separate violation of this Act, separately punishable as such.
D. Failure to comply with this Act shall have no effect on the validity of any election.
Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.