Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Delegate Onzlee Ware Campaign Expenditures Questioned

11th District Delegate Onzlee Ware

11th District Delegate Onzlee Ware

Questions regarding Democratic incumbent Delegate Onzlee Ware campaign expenditures have surfaced and are under review by the State Board of Elections. Primarily for the 2009 and 2008 years but may go back even further to 2007. The State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Manager, David Allen, has requested legal advice from Jim Hopper with the State’s Attorney’s Office in Richmond.

Allen stated in a phone call that, “it is highly likely that he [Ware] will be asked to at least complete an amended filing.” Ware acts as his own treasurer. Items that Hopper will advise the SBE about include:

Possible further explanation needed with Ware reimbursing himself designating “Item or Service” as “reimbursement” without explanation on 1/12/2009 for $350. Other entries date back to 2008: $500 on 12/3/2008, $500 on 4/20/2008, $335.61 on 3/5/2008, $500 on 5/24/2008, 1/8/2008 for $750, 1/28/2008 for $350.

An amount to “cash” for “polls” in the amount of $1250 on 2/11/2008.

Possible non-disclosure of payment to a private individual to display a large campaign sign on the owner’s property.

Also needing further explanation per Allen are a multitude of donations by Ware to individuals with no indication of what the donations are for.

Incomplete addresses for disbursements will need to be rectified.

A questionable campaign expenditure application fee for 501(3)(c) status in the amount of $300 on 12/2/08 for the 2009 Juneteenth Celebration is being reviewed in light of payments made for Juneteenth in 2009.

Payments totaling $3000 to Letitia Malone as Juneteenth Event Coordinator on 2/1/2009 and 2/13/2009 from campaign funds. This is questionable due to Ware’s application for 501(3)(c) status. Malone is Director of Roanoke’s Methadone Clinic located on Hershberger Road.

Other items that are more personal items paid for out of campaign funds are a membership in Gainsboro’s YMCA, Symphony tickets, and a multitude of church offerings and donations.

In 2008 prior to the application for 501(3)(c) status TAP was a recipient of $3000 for the Juneteenth Gala from campaign funds. An additional $3500 of 2008 Juneteenth expenses came from Ware’s campaign according to the SBE filings.

The Juneteenth expenditures being paid out of campaign funds leans toward the Juneteenth celebration being a “political” event rather then a celebration for Freedom Day inspired by Ware and Delegate Frank Hargrove. Ware defended Hargrove when he said black people “should get over” slavery followed by another Hargrove comment questioning if Jews should apologize “for killing Christ.” This set off a firestorm during the 2007 General Assembly session where an apology for slavery in Virginia was being debated. Ware and Hargrove then co-sponsored Resolution 56 designating June 19 as Juneteenth Freedom Day. The Resolution passed unanimously and was a compromise in lieu of an outright apology by Hargrove for his remarks.

Ware’s commendable donations include his donation of $1000 to Opera Roanoke, $150 to National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Special Olympics $50, Vinton War Memorial $500,

However, organizations that may be considering donating to Ware’s Juneteenth celebration should be aware that the event is being paid for at least in part from campaign donations making it a political event. Donating to political events is prohibited by non-profits.

SBE Campaign Finance Disclosure Itemized Expenditure Report for 2009 is HERE.

SBE Campaign Finance Disclosure Itemized Expenditure Report for 2008 is HERE.

Virginia State Finance Law is HERE.


Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell

Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell

On another development Ware’s opposition in the June 9 primary, Martin Jeffrey has a beef with the Commonwealth Attorney, Don Caldwell. Jeffrey’s campaign manager, Mark Powell has filed complaints with Caldwell’s office over non-delivery of Ware’s filing documents for review as allowed by Roanoke City Democratic Committee bylaws. Powell has contacted the State’s Attorney’s Office in an effort to change the venue as he believes that Caldwell’s close ties to the Roanoke City Democratic Committee and his endorsement of Ware will not lend itself to a vigorous and unbiased review of the campaign’s complaints.

In a phone call to State’s Attorney William Kincaid’s office he said he was not prepared to make a statement concerning Powell’s complaint at this early stage. Powell’s documents and complaint had  just been received in the office. Kincaid made it clear he represents the State in such matters but is willing to point Powell in the right direction upon review of the documents.

Pictured: Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell flanked by Commissioner of Revenue Sherman Holland, Treasuer Evelyn Powers, and Councilwoman and 17th District Candidate Gwen Mason.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.   

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , , ,

Comments (9)

Shaheed Omar

May 20th, 2009 at 1:54 PM    

More then anything else that I am concerned about is the Muslims and African Americans in particular in the Virginia Department of Corrections that are being abused and Delegate Ware not doing anything about it. Does he know of the matter? Yes, and has known of it for at lease two years and has done nothing.

Shaheed Omar


May 20th, 2009 at 2:15 PM    

Delegate Ware is not concerned with doing what is right. As we all can see Mr. Ware (because he has not proven himself to be a delegate for the people) and the Roanoke Democratic Committee, are simply out to looking out for each other. It is understandable when a person seeks his own agenda, but I can not see the Roanoke Democratic Committee doing the same, unless they have a hidden agenda. As the old saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together”. Commonwealth Attorney, Don Caldwell has also failed to do his job, the complaint filed by Martin Jeffery to review Mr. Ware’s petitions has not been produced yet, what is the holdup.

E. Duane Howard

May 20th, 2009 at 3:55 PM    

A lot of people will be eating crow for dinner when they hear about this.

Kudo’s to Mark Powell and Martin Jeffery.

The question that begs to be answered is where in the world were all the reporters?
This in public information, and yet still its obvious the State Board of Elections is not doing their job either. Head’s should roll and hopefully in the end one of those heads will be Ware!


May 20th, 2009 at 9:53 PM    

Allen brought up the church contributions as we were talking – I didn’t have to ask.

Tammany Hall

May 22nd, 2009 at 10:41 PM    

It cracks me up when miscreants like E. Duane Howard get involved for all the mudslinging, but do NOTHING to help Democrats overall. Where has E. Duane Howard been since he joined the committee last year? Nobody sees him at meetings or events. The only heads that should be rolling are the people who helped him and others who never participate in anything to become part of the committee when there are so many others who actually contribute to our city who wish to be involved. Talk your game, Mr. Howard–but what have you done to make anything better?

Tru Dat

May 22nd, 2009 at 11:44 PM    

E. Duane Howard is a waste of space.


May 23rd, 2009 at 9:27 AM    

Given the way the Jeffrey campaign has been run thus far, who is really surprised about this newest report? As a group, they are too green to be able to run a successful campaign against Ware. They know they can’t win with votes, so they’re trying any other way possible to win. Who in their right mind would want to win based on an error in reporting of charitable contributions? Who would hire a campaign manager who files assault charges on the head of the party–when there was no assault? And where’s the communications guy? They’re letting bloggers control the message, and it ain’t lookin’ like a very good message.

K.C. Bratton

May 23rd, 2009 at 8:07 PM    

I am not only a supporter of Delegate Onzlee Ware, but I have been a personal friend of his for years (prior to him becoming a member of the house). Onzlee has always contributed to organizations in the Valley. He has a long standing history of donating. He cares about this valley! I have witnessed him write a college student a personal check for books with the caveat that he keep his grades up. And this year he gave four scholarships for kids to attend VA Western Community College (he raised this money through The Juneteenth Freedom Foundation). We are really trying to do something positive! This valley needs guys like Onzlee Ware to lead! I will admit that I am biased; he has been a big brother to me. I appreciate the Star City Harbinger presenting the facts. I grew up in Gainsboro, went to VMI and returned home to help make the Roanoke Valley the best place it can be. There is room for us all to grow and be successful in this valley; PLEASE keep that in mind as we head toward June 9th and beyond. If we are civil, constructive, and collaborative there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. As for me, I am going to continue to work hard to return Delegate Ware to Richmond. God Bless You All! Thanks KC

11th District Constituent

May 25th, 2009 at 4:04 PM    

I realize that in matters like these people’s emotions and personal loyalties tend to capture the initial moments of response, however, that should not carry our earnest considerations of what is the real issue.

The question for constituents of the 11th district is not who placed the information on the table but is this true. Is the representative we gave our trust too representing us in a way that honors that trust. His votes are our votes and his decisions should reflect our decisions and his priorities should reflect our priorities. Is that the case? If it isn’t we should be outraged that our trust was so blantantly dishonored and our voice in Richmond so compromised.

Right is right and wrong is wrong and that is a value that strengthens friendship and trust.

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