Financing reports a hurdle for Clark County freeholder candidates

60 of 110 seeking 15 positions have provided just the basic information

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Campaigns for 15 unpaid county freeholder positions are in the process of being launched by 110 candidates.

But one of the first things some of those candidates are learning is they will have to file reports, available to the public, with the state Public Disclosure Commission, the same as any other candidate for a countywide office.

Complicating matters, the PDC experienced a security compromise on its site earlier this month and some information, such as candidate registration forms, is temporarily unavailable.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the Public Disclosure Commission, said all of Clark County's 110 candidates for freeholder have been informed of the requirements for filing. But as of Tuesday, only 60 had returned basic candidate information.

Those 60 individuals are currently listed on the Public Disclosure Commission's public website and have all provided the "C1" candidate registration form that asks for contact information and how in-depth their campaign finance reporting will be.

The registrations provide a glimpse into which candidates may work hardest to raise money and get their names before the public prior to the Nov. 5 general election.

Once elected, the freeholders will meet throughout 2014 to draft a proposed county charter that would, if voters approve it, replace the current form of county government. Previous efforts have attracted less public attention and been defeated at the polls, but interest is considerably higher this year after Republican Commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore engineered the ouster of the county's environmental services director and then replaced him with Republican state Sen. Don Benton, bypassing the usual county hiring process.

But first, candidates must meet the PDC's requirements.

Anderson said she was unsure of how many freeholder candidates have filed the required "F1" personal financial affairs form, which asks about personal income, investments and debts.

The "F1" form was a bit of a hitch for some in the campaign process, according to Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.

"Everyone has to do the F1 and that was of concern to some candidates," Kimsey said. "You have to declare some income and debts, specifically mortgages, and some just don't want that information out there to the public."

Though all candidates will need to complete F1 forms, not everyone will need to detail their campaign finances.

If candidates choose the "mini-reporting" option on the C1 form, they agree to raise and spend no more than $5,000 on their campaign, and not to accept more than $500 from a single contributor. In that case, they will not need to disclose detailed campaign financial information.

As of Tuesday afternoon, only three freeholder candidates had listed their campaign finances: Temple Lentz, who has raised $1,456.92; Robert Figley, who has raised $2,225; and Jim Mains, who has raised $1,150.

Anderson said that during the coming weeks, the Public Disclosure Commission will provide those who have yet to properly file with a gentle reminder.

"We are following up with people who have yet to file," she said. "There can be some penalties for those people who don't file, but right now we're hoping they just all file."

The penalties would be a last resort, as the Public Disclosure Commission actually has to hold hearings on the matter. When asked how long that process could take, Anderson repeated: "Hopefully, they all file before the election."

The reason the freeholders are required to file the information for a job that is nonpaying and temporary in nature has to do with how campaign disclosure laws are drafted in Washington.

"One of the triggers for having to file a registration is if it's a countywide office," Anderson said. "To exempt freeholders at this point would take legislation."

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com