Prenzler claims Bathon running business on taxpayer time

Ann Knef Oct. 26, 2006, 12:45pm

He may be outmatched by his opponent's fund-raising prowess, but the Republican candidate for Madison County Treasurer believes his message, "It's Your Money. Demand Ethics," will ring with voters Nov. 7.

Kurt Prenzler claims Madison County Treasurer Bathon is running an active homebuilding business from the Treasurer's office. He bases his charge on an analysis of phone records he claims were reluctantly released.

"...Fred Bathon has misused his office for personal gain," Prenzler said recently. "Sources inside the Treasurer's own office offered information to the Prenzler campaign that the Treasurer spends little time attending to his official duties."

Prenzler says the violations warrant investigation by the Madison County State's Attorney.

Bathon, a Democrat, dismisses Prenzler's claim.

"Once again, this is another baseless attack from Mr. Prenzler in order to get his name in the newspaper," Bathon said. "What's next? Is he going to dig through the trash cans at my office?"

Prenzler has so far raised $40,625. He loaned his campaign $30,000.

In the last reporting period, July 1 through Oct. 8, Bathon raised $68,723.

Prenzler claims his analysis indicates that Bathon "rarely shows up for work on time, and often not at all." When he does, Prenzler says, Bathon "spends most of his time making and receiving phone calls that are related to his homebuilding business."

He also claims Bathon grossed $2.2 million in his homebuilding business, but that it was not reported on Bathons's statement of economic interest, "even though one sale was completed during the last (2005) reporting period."

"This appears to be a statutory violation," Prenzler said.

Bathon responded, "As to the statement of economic interest, it requires the reporting of capital gains. I have not earned capital gains from this homebuilding sideline, so I did not report any capital gains on that statement. While I am involved in the business as a partner, I do not have a day-to-day role in it."

"As to my phone records, I run a responsive, customer-oriented office. If someone calls me at the office, I take the call or return the office. The people mentioned are people in the real estate and home building industry, all of whom have both personal and business reasons to call my office. Or, these people are colleagues or friends whom I speak with on a regular basis.

"For the record, I have a cell phone paid for by my campaign for personal or political use. And, second, I do not run a business out of my office."

Prenzler said his analysis shows that Bathon engages in unethical activities and is "defrauding" tax payers.

"If I am elected Madison County Treasurer, I pledge to attend to my duties and give the taxpayers a day's work in exchange for a day's wage," he said.

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