By Steve Gillingham
Having a background in the financial industry, a candidate’s financial record-keeping is one of the items I consider when choosing a candidate. Compliance to the financial rules and deadlines speaks volumes on the candidate’s integrity, transparency, accountability, attention to detail and the ability to read and follow instructions.
Any candidate committee with financial activity is required to file quarterly financial reports, including schedules of activities. All reports are deemed filed under penalty by perjury by the committee treasurer and the candidate. These reports are easily viewed online by the public.
I believe a constable must possess the highest integrity, have good record-keeping habits and pay attention to details. I reviewed the finance reports filed by the committees for the three candidates for Pinal County [Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court] constable and I was surprised by what I found.
LaFond filed as a committee in November of 2017. A fourth-quarter 2017 financial report was filed on time and included a committee number. They reported an income $430 in loans but did not list the source or amounts of the loans on the detail page. The first quarter 2018 report was filed on time but failed to list the ending balance from the fourth quarter 2017 report as the starting balance for the first quarter 2018. Where did that money go? They report spending about $538 but list no detail as to where it was spent or for what purpose.
A second-quarter 2018 report was filed on time and again they failed to list the $1,991 ending balance from first quarter as the starting balance. They apparently did not follow the instructions on the form and duplicated the income from the first-quarter on the second quarter form, instead of listing just the income for the second quarter. The committee spent over $2,800 but none of these expenses are detailed. What was the money spent on? They are required to include details.
Morrison’s committee filed on June 20, 2017. Since the filing was so late in the quarter, there was no requirement to file a financial report for second quarter. They filed financial reports for third quarter 2017, fourth quarter 2017, and first and second quarter 2018. All were filed on time. All reports have a committee number. All reports list the income and expenditures in detail, listing the source of the income, and what the expenditures were used for.
All reports list the ending balance from one quarter as the starting balance of the next quarter (a proper accounting procedure). Income from each quarter is listed separately on the proper form and the source is documented. They attached a listing of all the donors, including their addresses and occupations.
The Griffin committee filed on 6/30/17. They too had no requirement to file a second quarter financial report. There was a financial report submitted for third quarter 2017, but the box for the committee number was not filled in and they did not check the proper box indicating which period the form was filed for. There is no filing date stamp from the county. The fourth-quarter 2017 form was filed on time, but again, no committee number and they did not check the proper box indicating which period it is filed for. The first quarter 2018 report was filed late – one day past the required reporting period. This time they did indicate which reporting period the report was for, but still did not enter the committee number. The second-quarter 2018 report was filed on time and again had no committee number. The glaring problem with all of this committee’s reports is that the “no financial activity” box was checked on every cover page, and the committee reports no income and no expenses since June 30, 2017. Is this possible? I wonder where the funds came from to pay for all the signs, literature, and giveaway items I have seen. He had a booth at two events that I know of, which he would have had to pay for.
It is easy to see that of the three committees, the Morrison committee has been the most diligent in preparing these forms, complying with the rules and instructions, been the most transparent, and paid attention to detail – all of these characteristics are very important in my choice for a constable.
I want someone who I can trust, and will follow proper procedures, rules, and regulations. I am certain I do not want to go back to the way it was during the term of Judge Sulley!
Steve Gillingham is a resident of Maricopa County.