Created By: Latisha Thomas on 03/25/2011 at 10:51 AM
Category: Ethics Rulings
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
DATE: January 21, 2011 OPINION NO. 2010-223
RE: In the Matter of Lauren Lemmon
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, acting as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure (the “Board”), and on the basis of information received from Judge Lauren Lemmon, conducted an investigation to determine if violations of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (“the CFDA”) may have occurred with respect to the successful candidacy of Judge Lemmon for election on October 4, 2008 to a 29th Judicial District Court Judgeship.
Judge Lemmon reported to the Board, and Campaign Finance Disclosure reports filed on behalf of Judge Lemmon’s candidacy confirmed, that Judge Lemmon’s father, Harry T. Lemmon, had made loans to a Committee created to manage and finance Judge Lemmon’s campaign in excess of the $2,500.00 contribution limit.
On the basis of information obtained by the Board as provided by the candidate and as confirmed during the course of the private investigation, and with the concurrence of Judge Lemmon, the Board now makes among others the following essential:
I. On December 4, 2007, Andrew L. Lemmon, executed and filed with the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure a Statement of Organization evidencing the creation of “The Committee to Elect Lauren Lemmon” (the “Committee”).
FINDINGS OF FACT
2. The aforementioned Statement of Organization designated Andrew L. Lemmon as the Chairperson, and Edmond C. Haase, III as the Treasurer, for the Committee.
3. The office to which Lauren sought election, Judge of the 29th Judicial District Court, is classified as a “District Office” in the CFDA.
4. On October 4, 2008, Lauren Lemmon was elected to the position of Judge for the 29th Judicial District Court for the State of Louisiana.
5. Judge Lemmon did not participate personally in the management of the financing of her Campaign for Election to the Judgeship. All aspects of the financing of the campaign were handled by the Committee.
6. If called to testify Judge Lemmon would state that in accordance with her interpretation of applicable standards promulgated by the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, Judge Lemmon never participated in the preparation of Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports filed with the Board. Rather, the Reports were prepared by, and signed by, the Committee’s Treasurer, based on information on receipts and expenditures provided by a volunteer bookkeeper for the Committee.
7. On February 15, 2008, the Committee filed a 2007 Annual Campaign Finance Disclosure Report scheduling the receipt of a $2,500.00 contribution from Harry T. Lemmon on December 11, 2007.
8. On February 12, 2010, the Committee filed a 2009 Supplemental Campaign Finance Disclosure Report in connection with the October 4, 2008 election that disclosed the receipt of a $5,500.00 loan on May 13, 2009 from Harry T. Lemmon and a $2,500.00 loan on September 1, 2009 from Harry T. Lemmon.
9. Each of the loans were made by Mr. Lemmon to satisfy post-election Committee debts.
10. Mr. Lemmon did not discuss with Judge Lemmon either of these two Committee loans. Judge Lemmon was not otherwise aware of either of these two loans at the time they were made and when she discovered the loan she immediately instructed the Committee to report the occurrence to the Board.
11. During the first week of December, 2009, more than one year after the election, Tresurer Haase determined, on review of underlying data provided to him for preparation of the report eventually filed on February 10, 2010, and on examination of the applicable provisions of the CFDA, that the Committee had received loans and contributions from Harry T. Lemmon in excess of the contribution limits set forth in Section 1505.2 H. of the CFDA. Treasurer Haase reported these circumstances to Judge Lemmon who immediately instructed Mr. Haase to (1) immediately report the occurrence of these two loans in excess of the applicable contribution limit to the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance and (2) have the Committee immediately repay to Harry T. Lemmon the amount received in excess of the applicable contribution limits as provided for by law. Judge Lemmon believed that self-reporting of the violation was the right thing to do, although she did not knowingly participate in the post-election conduct that constituted the violation.
12. On December 17, 2009, the Committee repaid $8,000.00 to Mr. Lemmon and thereafter timely reported the repayment of these loans to the Board on a Supplemental Candidate’s Report.
13.The Board has received by affidavit (1) the assurances of Judge Lemmon that she was not aware that the Committee had received loans in excess of the limits prescribed in Section 1505.2 H of the CFDA; notes that (2) Judge Lemmon immediately reported the occurrence of this violation to the Board as soon as it was called to her attention by the Committee’s Treasurer; that (3) Judge Lemmon instructed the Treasurer to have the Committee repay the excessive loan immediately; and that (4) the Committee did, in fact, repay the excessive amount and timely reported the repayment to the Board.
II. Section 1505.2 H (1) provides as follows:
The following contribution limits are established for contributions made to candidates or the principal campaign committee and any subsidiary committee of a candidate for the following offices:
(i) Major office – five thousand dollars.
(ii) District office two thousand five hundred dollars
(iii) Other office – one thousand dollars.
Section 1505.2 H (3)(c) provides:
No candidate . . . shall accept from the same contributor a loan, transfer funds, or contribution . . . in the aggregate for all reporting periods of an election . . . in excess of the contribution limits established in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection . . .
It is the opinion of the Board that the Committee to Elect Lauren Lemmon, created and established by virtue of the aforementioned December 4, 2007 Statement of Organization, violated the provisions of Section 1505.2 H of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act by receiving loans from Harry T. Lemmon, in connection with the candidate’s October 4, 2008 election, in excess of the contribution limit. As a campaign committee formed for a district office candidate, the Committee was proscribed from receiving contributions and loans from a single individual for a single election in excess of the total amount of $2,500.00. As loans in the amount of $8,000.00 were made by Harry T. Lemmon to the Committee, subsequent to the Committee’s receipt of a contribution of $2,500.00 from Mr. Lemmon, the receipt by the Committee of the $8,000.00 in loans was prohibited by the cited Section of the Act.
Contribution limits for Judge Lemmon’s Committee began with the annual report covering the January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007 period. Judge Lemmon was elected at the October 4, 2008 primary election and did not participate in the scheduled November 4, 2008 general election.
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 $1,000.00 should be imposed on the Committee for the manifest violation 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 Committee violated Section 1505.2 H of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.
IT IS ORDERED that a civil penalty of $1,000.00, payable to the Treasury of the State of Louisiana be and it is hereby assessed against the Committee to Elect Lauren Lemmon.
By Order of the Board this 21st day of January 2011.
Absent and did not participate s/James G. Boyer
Frank P. Simoneaux, Chairman James G. Boyer, Vice Chairman
s/Dr. Robert P. Bareikis Absent and did not participate
Dr. Robert P. Bareikis Rev. Gail E. Bowman
Absent and did not participate s/Gary G. Hymel
Dr. Louis Leggio Gary G. Hymel
s/Jean M. Ingrassia s/Dr. Cedric W. Lowrey
Jean M. Ingrassia Dr. Cedric W. Lowrey
s/M. Blake Monrose Absent and did not participate
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 her conduct, as described above, violated Section 1505.2H 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.
s/The Committee to Elect Judge Laurent Lemmon 1-11-11
The Committee to Elect Judge Lauren Lemmon Date