Created By: Latisha Thomas on 04/21/2011 at 09:39 AM
Category: Campaign Finance Rulings
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
DATE: March 18, 2011 OPINION NO. 2010-601
RE: In the Matter of Melvin Holden
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, acting as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure (the “Board”), conducted an investigation to determine if violations of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (“the CFDA”) may have occurred with respect to Melvin “Kip” Holden’s (“Mayor Holden”) 2009 Candidate’s Annual Report.
A review by the Board’s staff of Mayor Holden’s 2009 Candidate’s Annual Report produced questions over the manner in which certain expenditures were reported and the manner in which records were maintained. Mayor Holden’s campaign filed an amended 2009 Candidate’s Annual Report in order to address the reporting and recordkeeping questions that developed from the original 2009 Candidate’s Annual Report.
On the basis of information obtained by the Board as provided by Mayor Holden and as confirmed during the course of the private investigation, and with the concurrence of Mayor Holden, the Board now makes the following essential:
I. On February 17, 2010, Mayor Holden’s campaign filed with the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure a Candidate’s Annual Report (“Original Report”) for the period of January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009.
FINDINGS OF FACT
2.On January 19, 2011, at the suggestion of the Board’s staff, Mayor Holden’s campaign filed with the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure an amended 2009 Candidate’s Annual Report (“Amended Report”) for the period of January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009.
3. The Board’s review produced questions about the following expenditures:
a. $9,760.00 to Ironstone, LLC for a trip to China to promote Baton Rouge;
b. $2,000.00 for a trip to China to promote Baton Rouge;
c. $8,000 for a trip to China to promote Baton Rouge;
d. $6,975.00 to Ironstone, LLC for a trip to China to promote Baton Rouge;
e. $500.00 for a trip to Los Angeles, California;
f. $700.00 for travel associated with the Bayou Classic;
g. $2,500.00 for travel.
4. If called to testify, Mayor Holden would state that he provided to the Board all of the receipts available to support the expenditures reported on the Amended Report.
If called to testify, Mayor Holden would state that his campaign paid $16,975 to Ironstone in connection with its arrangement of the trip to China and that Ironstone is not able to provide Mayor Holden’s campaign (or the Board) with the detailed expenditures as required by the CFDA because Ironstone did not retain any records and is unable to obtain the records from the company in China that handled the transactions.
6. Some of the expenditures reported on the Amended Report were initially included with other expenditures reported on the Original Report and those included expenditures should have been reported separately.
7. Some of the expenditures did not have separate supporting vendor receipts; rather, these expenditures were supported by Mayor Holden’s credit card statements and bank statements, confirming that the expenditures were paid as reported on the Amended Report.
8.If called to testify, Mayor Holden would state that the Original Report and Amended Report were prepared by someone other than himself or the campaign’s treasurer, that the Original Report and Amended Report were reviewed and signed by the campaign’s Treasurer based on information of receipts and expenditures provided to the person preparing both reports.
II. Section 1495.3(B)(3)(b) provides as follows:
“The campaign treasurer of each candidate shall also keep such records of campaign expenditures made or contracted as shall be necessary to comply with the provisions of this Part, including the name and address of the person or firm from whom goods or services were purchased or contracted, the date, the amount or value and the purpose of the expenditure, a description of the goods or services purchased or contracted, and a description and valuation of all in-kind expenditures.”
Section 1495.5(B)(12) provides as follows:
“Each report required to be in conformity with this Section shall contain the following information . . . [t]he full name and address of each person to whom an expenditure has been made by the candidate during the reporting period. The amount, purpose, and date of each such expenditure shall be reported. A brief description of an in-kind expenditure shall be given, as well as the valuation made by the candidate and the campaign treasurer and the dates(s) of the expenditure . . .”
Section 1495.5(B)(13) provides as follows:
“Each report required to be in conformity with this Section shall contain the following information . . . [t]he total amount of monetary expenditures made by the candidate from his own funds during the reporting period.”
Section 1505.1(C) provides as follows:
“Failure to disclose or failure to disclose accurately any information required to be reported by this Chapter shall constitute a violation of this Chapter.”
It is the opinion of the Board that Mayor Holden’s 2009 Campaign Annual Report, as amended, did not comport with Sections 1495.5(B)(12), 1495.5(B)(13), and 1505.1(C) of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act in that the reports failed to accurately detail certain expenditures and by reason of the campaign’s failure to maintain separate and specific receipt for all expenditures made by the campaign from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009. As a political candidate, the campaign was required to accurately, and in detail, report all expenditures and to keep receipts and other original records of amounts and purposes of all expenditures made. The failure to accurately report expenditures and the failure to keep original invoices and receipts is violation of the cited Sections of the CFDA.
It is the opinion of the Board that the interest of the public would be served and it is the decision of the Board that a fine of $2,500.00 should be imposed on the campaign for its failure to comply with the reporting and recordkeeping requirements of the CFDA.
IV.For the foregoing reasons:
DECREE AND ORDER
IT IS DECREED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that the campaign violated Sections 1495.5(B)(12), 1495.5(B)(13), and 1505.1(C) of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.
IT IS ORDERED that a civil penalty of $2,500.00, payable to the Treasury of the State of Louisiana be and it is hereby assessed against Mayor Holden’s campaign.
s/Frank P. Simoneaux, Chairman s/James G. Boyer_____________
By Order of the Board this 18th day of March 2011.
Frank P. Simoneaux, Chairman James G. Boyer, Vice-Chairman
s/Dr. Robert P. Bareikis s/Rev. Gail E. Bowman_______
Dr. Robert P. Bareikis Rev. Gail E. Bowman
s/Gary G. Hymel s/Jean M. Ingrassia _____
Gary G. Hymel Jean M. Ingrassia
s/Dr. Louis Leggio s/Dr. Cedric W. Lowrey______
Dr. Louis Leggio Dr. Cedric W. Lowrey
s/M. Blake Monrose s/Scott D. Schneider__________
M. Blake Monrose Scott D. Schneider
s/David Grove Stafford, Jr.
David Grove Stafford, Jr.
The undersigned (a) stipulates to the facts found by the Board; (b) waives the procedural requirements contained in Section 1141 of the Code; (c) admits that the campaign failed to accurately comply with Sections 1495.5(B)(12), 1495.5(B)(13), and 1505.1(C) of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act; (d) consents to the publication of this opinion; (e) agrees to comply with the conditions and orders set forth in this opinion; and (f) agrees not to seek judicial review of the findings and actions taken in this opinion.
Melvin Kip Holden__________________ _2/7/11______________________
Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden Date