Candidates for county elective office filed their first campaign finance disclosure forms Tuesday, and now they're scurrying around trying to spin their opponents' disclosures to their advantage.
Whether or not the accusations of dirty dealing and murky money-lending have merit depends somewhat on one's point of view. Herewith a few of the more talked-about disclosures:- County Commission candidate Mark Shurtleff, a deputy county attorney, received $1,000 from developer Tom Lloyd and his company, Terra Industries. Lloyd is suing the county over the Cottonwood Corporate Center development, and the county attorney's office handled the county's defense before the commission turned the matter over to outside counsel.
Shurtleff's opponents say he worked on the case, creating a conflict of interest, but Shurtleff says he never had anything to do with it.
If an attorney in an office works on a case, all attorneys working there are presumed to have a conflict of interest in the matter unless a "chinese wall" is erected, excluding certain attorneys from any dealings or discussions. Shurtleff says that was done in this case.
County attorney Doug Short said Shurtleff was involved with the decision of the commission hiring outside counsel, but nothing with regard to the merits of the case.
- The Reagan Sign Co. has extended credit to some of the candidates, including Republican commission hopefuls Wendy Smith, Steve Harmsen and Shurtleff, each in excess of $12,000.
Democrat Mike Reberg, who will face either Harmsen or Shurtleff in the Nov. 3 general election, says this may be a way for Reagan to influence the candidates without having to be listed immediately as a contributor to their campaigns, by extending credit now and then later writing it off.
Reberg used to work for Reagan, handling community relations and political affairs.
Company president and owner Bill Reagan dismissed Reberg's accusation as "trying to make something out of nothing." He said the company extends credit to political candidates and businesses alike using standard business practice. He allowed for the possibility of some candidates' accounts being wholly or partially written off because of inability to pay, but said the same practice is done for businesses.
"If we went back and searched for 20 years, we would find a whole morass of customers who couldn't or wouldn't pay," he said. "(Reberg's) whole strategy is to use us as the bad guy."
Reagan said if he intended to contribute to a candidate's campaign he would simply contribute, instead of resorting to accounts payable trickery. Indeed, the company has contributed heavily to various campaigns in recent years, usually in in-kind fashion by donating billboard space.
- Commission incumbent Mary Callaghan has accepted $1,600 from tobacco giant Philip Morris, which opponents say makes her pro-tobacco. Her response: "Jello and kids, Kraft Foods (divisions of Philip Morris). We have many contributors, and that is only one."