The Citizens for Responsible Waterfront Development has been formally requested to account for ambiguities in its financial reporting practices.
The Secretary of State’s Office wants to know who paid for the political action committee’s Web site and the materials used for campaign signs. Nancy Ferry, compliance specialist from the Elections Division, has also requested that CRWD file late contribution and expenditure reports from 1995 to October of 2003. Officials want an explanation for a cash differential of $778 and $1,122 that took place during that eight year period.
“The sooner you file these reports, the lesser any monetary penalties, unless you have already reached the maximum allowable penalty,” wrote Ferry in a letter dated Nov. 14 to Cory Roeseler, CRWD treasurer.
Oregon Campaign Finance Manager Fred Neal said the fines for reporting violations begin with one percent per day on the greater balance of contributions or expenditures. The second violation raises that limit to three percent. Other fines are also assessed for failure to provide supplemental reports of single contributors of $500 or more and expenditures of $1,000 or higher to any single source. The post-election wrap-up report is due on Dec. 4.
Roeseler has been given until Dec. 15 to list all expenditures that were made by individual members of the group. In particular, Roeseler is queried about why a newspaper ad purchased by a party who claimed to be independent had included the byline, “Paid for by Citizens for Responsible Waterfront Development.” The group successfully advocated for passage of a city policy to preserve a large section of the waterfront for a public park.
“If a person pays for something out of pocket and doesn’t expect reimbursement, that has to be reported as an in-kind contribution,” said Ferry in an interview on Thursday. “You can’t just form a committee and then tell everyone to do what they want and pay their own bills so that it doesn’t have to appear in a report.”
Roeseler said the party that purchased the advertisement acted alone and didn’t ask to be repaid for her costs.
“I don’t know why she chose to include the address for CRWD and a solicitation for donations in the ad. She did not communicate with me as the ad was being prepared, nor did she request reimbursement from CRWD or any of its directors,” he said in a written statement issued following a telephone interview.
He said CRWD will address each charge specifically and completely by the December deadline. According to Roeseler, some of the missing financial data is due to billing and reimbursement requests that were not submitted until after the Nov. 4 election.
“I can’t pay a bill before I have an invoice for it,” said Roeseler. “I think this is just a matter of the RTRG (Results Through Representative Government) jumping the gun by reporting us for failure to report on something when we haven’t even received a bill.”
Prior to the election, RTRG accused the CRWD of violating the state election laws.
The group, opposed to the measure to preserve the waterfront for a public park, asked the state to launch a formal investigation into CRWD’s “incomplete” financial records.
Ferry said that CRWD is responsible to track all expenditures from the time that they are suggested to completion.
She is also questioning why the group asks for contributions on its Web site but reports no local donations, only $750 from a Chicago couple and another $250 from a party who resides in California.