Wednesday, February 08, 2017
A Tale of Three Mayors and Their Campaign Finances
Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski $75,000 Transfer Is Illegal. - Fed Ed's year-end report demonstrates an utter disregard for the people he supposedly represents. He's diverted money he received to run for the US Senate and Governor to pay off lawyers representing him and possibly his wife in a federal political corruption investigation. He has also formed a new campaign committee to avoid disclosing contributions until election eve.
At the end of 2015, Fed Ed had about $100,000 in federal campaign funds as well as $83,000 in his state campaign treasury. At that time, he had already paid $80,000 to lawyers representing him in the criminal probe. This year, he spent another $170,425.45 for his criminal defense. To do this, he had to transfer $75,000 from his federal fund to his state fund. He also had to borrow $35,000.
Fed Ed has already spent $250,000 for criminal lawyers, and this is before he's even been indicted.
He clearly used the $75k transfer to his mayoral campaign to pay legal fees. This transfer was made on January 20, 2016. Four days before that, he wrote a massive check out (on January 16, 2016, which, coincidentally, is a Saturday) to Jack McMahon. And, the day before (Jan. 19th) and the day of (Jan 20th) the transfer, he writes checks for tens of thousands of dollars more.
He transferred this money from his federal to his state treasury because it is likely that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) would have prohibited the use of these funds to pay criminal lawyers.
Federal law prohibits the use of federal campaign funds for "personal use." This includes payment to criminal lawyers, although the FEC is willing to review a transfer on a case-by-case basis.
Rather than undergoing this review, Fed Ed transferred the money to his state account, where he can pretty much do what he wants. In doing so, he appears to have violated federal law.
If he's unable to use federal funds for personal expenses,and then transfers these funds to a state account so he can pay off personal expenses, he is breaking the law. Upon complaint, the FEC could impose an administrative fine that doubles his illegal $75,000 transfer.
Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez.- Bob started off 2016 with $120,000, more than enough money to wage a Mayoral campaign against several challengers. Yet he still raised $39,000 in an off-election year. More than half of this money came from people who are already beneficiaries of the City's largesse, or are making money through the CRIZ or various other programs.
I know Bob is a man of integrity. I watched him dip his hands into his own pockets to feed a meter at events where he could easily have maintained he was on official business. He initiated a gift ban among city employees. He could set an example for others to follow by refusing to raise money in an off-election year,or declining money from people who obviously want something, like Majestic developer Ed Roski. This was a missed opportunity.
John Stoffa, when he ran for re-election, refused to take money from anyone. Jim Hemstreet, when he ran for re-election, capped contributions at $35.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto.- I've been critical of Panto and tagged him for using sock puppets to discuss a host of issues on LehighValleyLive. In fact, one family has sued him for defaming them. But I was impressed by his year-end campaign finance report. Though he is an incumbent mayor with a procession of fawning sycophants and could easily have raised lots of money like his counterpart in Bethlehem, he resisted the temptation. He started off 2016 with $14,000 and raised no money. And what he spent mostly went to worthwhile causes like Notre Dame Green Pond. When he attended the National League of Cities, he would have been justified in charging the city for his attendance. But he instead used his campaign funds for what really was a governmental function.
Panto's campaign finance report does set an example for others to follow.Unfortunately, our dailies no longer follow the money until someone is under investigation. If they did a better job of scrutinizing campaignf finance, as they once did, there just might be fewer investigations.