Sunday, May 11, 2008

Knox County School Board Chair Skirts and May Have Even Violated Campaign Finance Disclosure Law

Here is the link to the financial disclosure laws in the State of Tennessee that govern the disclosure of financial contribution to and expenditure of candidates for local and state office. It appears that the re-election campaign of Karen Carson has violated the code 2-10-107 (2) (A) (i)

Former School Board Member Diane Jablonski was appointed on December 11, 2007 and to the best of our knowledge is still serving as the campaign treasurer for the re-election of the current Fifth District School Board Member and School Board Chair, Karen Carson. The primary election was held on February 5, 2008. Carson was challenged earlier this year by local successful businesswoman Laurie Alford. The general election will be held on August 7, 2008. Because Carson garnered more than 50% of the primary votes, at this point she will be unchallenged on the general election ballot.

Here is the first 2008 financial disclosure filing of The Committee to Elect Karen Carson that has been filed. The ending date for this disclosure is 1/26/2008. All campaign contributions and expenditures that exceed $100 up to 1/26/2008 were required to be disclosed.

On 1/28/2008, The Committee to Elect Karen Carson hosted and held a public rally and reception at a West Knoxville Catering company. On the first financial disclosure (dated through 1/26/2008) they report an expenditure of $2,571.00 to the catering company. The event was held two days (1/28/2008)after the filing deadline. This would mean that the expenditure is required to be reported on the second campaign financial disclosure, not the first. At this particular event, sources attending the event indicate that several individuals gave checks and cash to the campaign. In particular the campaign received a check in the amount of $250.00 from local businessman William "Bill" Phillips. The "canceled" check indicates that the check was cashed or deposited on 1/31/2008.

So, the next financial disclosure covers the period 1/27/2008 - 3/31/2008. The second disclosure should reveal this contribution, as well as any other contributions received at the reception and the expense of the 1/28/2008 reception. By law, TCA 2-10-107 (2) (A) (i) all contributions that exceed $100.00 must be itemized and reported. Keeping in mind that the campaign contribution from Mr. Phillips was received by the campaign on 1/28/2008 and either deposited or cashed on 1/31/2008.

Here is the second financial disclosure that was filed with the Knox County Election Commission on 4/9/2008. It reveals no campaign contribution or expenditure during the period of 1/27/2008 - 3/31/2008. The box checked on the second financial disclosure indicates that the campaign received less than $1,000 during this reporting period. Our sources indicate that the campaign is still required that report any contribution that exceeds $100 per person.

Let's assume that it is not required to report a detailed report if the campaign raised or spent less than $1,000.00 in this reporting period. The balance on hand according with the 1/29/2008 report was $5,841.55. The balance on hand of the 4/9/2008 report is $5,319.34. That indicates that a sum of $522.18 was spent within the time period of 1/27 - 3/31 when you add the campaign contribution of William "Bill" Phillips of $250.00 to that total. It then totals $772.18. So the campaign would have had to have raised or spent less than $227.82 for the remainder of the period from 1/27/2008 - 3/31/2008 in order to remain under the $1,000.00 for the reporting period. But, keep in mind that TCA 2-10-107 (2) (A) (i) requires the campaign to report any contribution that exceeds $100.00.

According to Lola Alapo's post primary election coverage in the New-Sentinel on February 6, 2008 and according to the Brian's Blog sources that attended the Carson election night victory party, the campaign hosted a Mardi-Gras style election night victory party on February 5, 2008 at the clubhouse of a subdivision off of Northshore Drive. The cost of said party would surely exceed $227.82. In addition, the campaign handed out trinkets to potential voters at the polling locations on election day. Were they purchased with campaign funds or were they given to the campaign as an in kind contribution. If the value exceeded $100.00, then it must be reported.

Is it reasonable to assume that they spent less than $227.82 on this election night party? Is it reasonable to assume that businessman William "Bill" Phillips is the only person to contribute to the Carson campaign on the evening of the public reception? Why would the campaign report an expenditure two days (reception) before the expenditure occurred? Remember the first filing covered through 1/26 and the reception was held on 1/28.

In this new day of Knox County Government, where everyone is being required to remain open and transparent about their dealings, both as an elected official and through their campaign activities. Why is there an elected official attempting to skirt the law? Is this what the citizens of Knox County expect out of today's elected officials that represent the citizens of Knox County?

So, that no one can say that Brian's Blog does not have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Below is a scan of the canceled check of William "Bill" Phillips that has been provided to Brian's Blog.


4 comments:

Sandra said...

I have a question concerning this. If Diane Jablonski is the campaign treasurer, why isn't the check endorsed for deposit by Diane Jablonski or Karen Carson? It appears that someone with a first intial J and last name Carson endorsed the check. What is that about?

HVAHS PTSA Member said...

I am ashamed of Carson and Jablonski for this act of arrogance in trying to shield campaign contributions for their own personal benefit.

Kim said...

Here's what's strange. If this had been Mike Ragsdale and he'd been off by $2 it would have been front-page news and the topic of Sunday a.m. talk shows. How does deceit like this stay hidden?

A Real News Reporter said...

Kim is right, I will beat $100 that Lola Alapo and McElroy will sweep this one under the rug. For some reason they like covering for Carson and others. Makes you wonder about when Lola reports and stays in Towsend at the school board retreat. Who buys?