Friday, June 5, 2009

Scrutiny of Delegate Onzlee Ware’s Campaign Expenditures Moves Forward

Delegate Onzlee Ware

Delegate Onzlee Ware

According to David Allen, Compliance Manager at the State Board of Elections office in Richmond, more than likely the questionable use of incumbent Delegate Onzlee Ware’s campaign funds will go before the State Board of Elections panel June 23. James Alcorn, Policy Advisor, and David Allen will “write something up” to State Board of Elections Secretary Nancy Rodrigues. Between her and Alcorn they will discuss and decide whether “yes it needs to go to the Board.” Allen went on to say, “it probably will end up going to the Board because it is really hard for us to decide.”

GET ALL DELEGATE WARE’S CONTRIBUTIONS from 2003 thru May 25,2009. Must have Excel spreadsheet software. Sort data as desired.

GET ALL DELEGATE WARE’S EXPENDITURES from 2003 thru May 25, 2009. Must have Excel spreadsheet software. Sort data as desired.

The main item that would go before the State Board of Elections is the use of campaign funds for the Juneteenth Celebration to determine, “if it is for his [Ware’s] personal use or if it is promoting his campaign … these are some really gray areas” said Allen. The three member panel: Chairman Jean Cunningham, Vice-Chair Harold Pyon, and Secretary Nancy Rodrigues will determine whether the use of Ware’s campaign funds for Juneteenth is a “personal” use or a “political” use and make a judgement accordingly.

The big question that needs resolution  is was there any “intent to defraud.” This is difficult to prove – did the candidate “knowingly” misuse campaign funds or was their interpretation misunderstood and just a mistake explained Allen.

Section 6.1 – Unacceptable Expenditures of Virginia’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Act – Title 24.2, Chapter 9.3. 9.4 and 9.5 of the Code of Virginia – Summary of Laws and Policy for Candidate Campaign Committees:

It is unlawful for any committee to convert contributed funds, securities, or like intangible property to an individual’s personal use.

Ware advised Allen in a phone call that he plans to replace the money borrowed from his campaign to fund Juneteenth with the proceeds of the event. Clarke Curtis is Ware’s Treasurer of record.

Cedric Green

6/4/2008

$250.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth
IRS

12/2/2008

$300.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth 501(3)(c) Fee
Malone Letitia

2/1/2009

$1,000.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Event Coordinator
Malone Letitia

2/13/2009

$1,500.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Event Coordinator
TAP

6/16/2008

$1,000.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Gala
TAP

6/2/2008

$2,000.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Gala
Community HS

6/21/2008

$400.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Reception
Withers Charles

6/6/2008

$160.00

Onzlee Ware Juneteenth Reimbursement

Incumbent Delegate Onzlee Ware should also expect to receive a certified letter asking him to amend his filing and clarify the “Items of Service” that state “reimbursement.” These reimbursements must state what the reimbursement is for – for example, “reimbursement for office supplies.” Ware will have 10 days to respond. Allen explained that if an investigation were the recommendation by the State Board of Elections then the appropriate agency would ask Ware for the supporting document (receipts) for the reimbursement. The agency would either be the Attorney General or Commonwealth Attorney who would authorize an investigation. The enforcement agency would then conduct the investigation.

Withers Charles

11/7/2007

$220.48

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

11/16/2007

$500.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Withers Charles

11/20/2007

$120.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

1/8/2008

$750.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

1/28/2008

$350.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware & Hill L.L.P.

3/15/2008

$335.61

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

4/20/2008

$500.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

5/24/2008

$500.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Bratton Sabra

11/4/2008

$204.38

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement
Ware Delegate Onzlee

1/12/2009

$350.00

Onzlee Ware Reimbursement

Allen says that the State Board of Elections looks to the General Assembly to tighten campaign finance law. For Allen, the SBE, and minimal staff the gray areas create frustration and tie their hands trying to enforce the vagueness of Virginia’s Campaign Finance Law.

Allen did point to a recently passed House Bill (HB1740) that deals with using campaign funds for personal use. He said, “they go every year with legislative changes they try to get and they just get whittled down to near nothing.” The HB1740 restricts in “Final Reports” the use of the remaining funds. Final Reports are reports when either a candidate loses an election and closes out his campaign fund or an elected official ends his political career. The ending balance must be zero. The excess funds can be distributed to other candidates, party political committees, or to charity. They cannot, however, be pocketed (personal use). HB1740 further restricted the final disbursement of funds by disallowing an immediate member of the family from being a recipient of any of the funds. For example, if an official’s wife were Director of a charity they would be prohibited from receiving any of their spouse’s excess funds.

Allen and I had a general conversion on my observation that if I give to a campaign I expect my contribution to be used in electing or reelecting the candidate I favor. This is the general publics expectation (not necessarily PACs or lobbyists – another topic entirely). I know that many individual contributors squeeze out of their limited income contributions to candidates they feel are honest and ethical. These less than affluent individuals are unaware that their contribution can be shuffled off to another candidate’s campaign (candidate they may not support) or a donation to a church or charity that they may not agree or used in borrowing for a personal use.

This is what Campaign Disclosure is all about and the Main Stream Media either through lack of resources or candidate favoritism is lax in reporting. Though the information is available online at sbe.virginia.gov very few people if they do have Internet access know how to get to it. If they get to it do they know how to maneuver to find the information? If the average citizen does find the information they don’t understand the law and therefore don’t know what to look for. According to Allen this is where the media is suppose to do their job to inform the public.

As an example Allen made a point of an individual that may say “I like what Onzlee Ware has to say.” Then they go online to see how he spent his money and might say, “well on the other hand I don’t know if I want to contribute any money to him.”

David Allen with the recent filing June 1st deadline  is busy with 6 candidates that  have addresses, occupations or employer “blank or N/A.” This type of thing is common among all candidates. Allen said with Ware there might be some more things that are questionable. Allen’s office is limited in enforcement and if an unacceptable use of campaign funds by a candidate was done “knowingly with intent to defraud” it is not for Allen to decide.

One item Allen is planning to contact Delegate Ware on is payment to an individual for a large sign placed in a homeowner’s yard that seemed to be unreported. I’ll update this posting with the results when received by David Allen.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , , , ,

Comments (7)

Newt

June 4th, 2009 at 5:41 PM    


What’s going on here? My encounters with Onzlee have been very positive over the past few years.

What’s the root of this discontent? it seems strangely “political” to me.

RFP

June 4th, 2009 at 5:56 PM    


The SBE needs to clear up what is acceptable use of campaign funds. The SBE staff have a heck of a time with the “gray” areas.

There needs to be a clear definition of what is personal use.

I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with clarity on Campaign Contributions and Expenditures.

There are always mistakes or “sloppiness” that needs correction. They are use to that.

Mark Powell

June 4th, 2009 at 8:50 PM    


While these actions by Delegate Ware were discovered in the context of a political campaign, reporting on them is vital and necessary in our system. It is troubling that these actions have occurred, especially the use of campaign $ for personal use. The uses disclosed in prior articles are clearly personal (symphony tickets, gym dues, yardwork, etc.). As such, Mr. Ware has clearly broken the law. The use of monies for nonprofits is clearly outside the bounds of the law as well. The reimbursements for such large, round sums of money raise eyebrows, too. These actions come from a Delegate whose actions in the General Assembly seem to be motivated by who has paid the highest dollar in terms of special interest…it is a shame that Ware seems to think that our democracy is ‘all about the benjamins’…

Jeff Artis

June 4th, 2009 at 9:49 PM    


To those of you who are supporting Mr. Ware in this controversy by claiming politics, I say hogwash. You folks know that if a White Republican was doing the same thing Ware is doing with his campaign funds, you’d be raising Cain until the cows come home.
My questions is, how could Ware be so stupid as to put himself into this situation? It’s simple really. He didn’t think anyone would ask any questions. And he figured if anyone would ask any questions, his buddies and his supporters would flip the script and blame politics.

Ware is Roanoke, Va.’s version of former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Berry. When are the good people of the Roanoke Valley going to realize this.

Valerie, keep up the good work.

Jeff Artis, http://www.jeffartis.com

ridiculous

June 5th, 2009 at 1:56 PM    


Onzlee has been caught red-handed. The establishment(democratic party leaders,Carilion, Roanoke Times etc.) are trying to prop him up until the election is over. Then they will say they never would have supported him “if they had only known”.
Well, we do know he is a scoundrel and next Tueday we need to vote him out.

Chris

June 8th, 2009 at 8:39 AM    


What a waste of time.

RFP

June 8th, 2009 at 3:47 PM    


The outcome of the SBE panel will clarify the proper use of campaign funds for all office holders. Once clarified it will guide all officials – as Mr. Allen stated Virginia Law is vague and it makes it hard for them to do their job. I expect my campaign contributions to be used for electing or relecting my candidate of choice and not given away willy-nilly. I’ll keep my money in my pocket if that is the case.

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