The cost of a June fund-raiser in New York City has appeared on Democratic state treasurer candidate Art Monson's final pre-election financial report - "smoked out" by a lawsuit, his opponent claims.
But Monson's campaign manager, Gary Pratt, said Friday he didn't learn details of the expenses and how they were paid by donations until one day after the suit was filed.Then in a tit-for-tat exchange, Pratt asked why Republican incumbent treasurer Ed Alter never reported the cost of an airplane ticket to New York City for his own fund-raiser in July.
Alter responded by saying his fund-raiser happened to coincide with a National Association of State Treasurers meeting in Virginia. He charged the trip to the state because the meeting was considered state business.
In what has become a vicious campaign for an office that rarely gets attention, both candidates have started trading attacks faster than reporters can take notes:
-Pratt said Friday he is offended by recent Alter radio commercials that note Monson is not a high-ranking LDS Church official.
-Alter, on the other hand, spent much of Friday afternoon writing a letter he hopes will be printed in local newspapers. The letter counters what Alter calls misinformation in recent Monson radio ads.
Monson, the front-runner according to recent opinion polls, was named in a lawsuit filed last week by Linda Tracy, a woman who claims to be acting as an independent watchdog over election affairs.
The suit alleged Monson held a fund-raising dinner June 14 at New York's 101 Club but that he failed to report the expenses in either the July 10 or Oct. 10 financial reports.
In the final pre-election report filed Thursday - three days after Tracy acknowledged she was filing suit - Monson lists a $978.69 expense for the 101 Club and three in-kind donations of $326.23 each from Drexel-Burnham-Lambert of New York, Packard Press of Philadelphia and Ehrlich Bober of New York.
Pratt said the club bill likely was paid long ago by the three contributors. "I didn't have the details until two days ago," he said.
Pratt said he made some long-distance calls to get the information - not because of the lawsuit and not because of accusations from Alter - but because the financial report was due.
Pratt said he had made similar calls before, but had never been successful in getting the information.
"I didn't have it until two days ago," Pratt said. "I don't know what he (Alter) thinks I'm going to do, report pledges?"
But Alter said he believes Monson was deliberately withholding the information.
"I think it's interesting it took only three days for him to come up with this information after she (Tracy) filed suit," Alter said. "Anyone who would lie and cheat on a report is not to be trusted with the state's money."
Tracy's suit also alleges Monson waited several months to report contributions received at the dinner and that some donations may yet be unreported. Monson has said he reported the donations as they were received.
Alter said Monson may have been hoping to trick him into believing the Democrat had little money to use in the campaign. He notes that Monson's Oct. 10 report shows an ending balance of $85.94, but that he reported receiving $31,802.77 in contributions since then.
"I could have looked at that (the Oct. 10 report) and thought I wouldn't have to worry much about radio ads," Alter said.