Candidates for State's Attorney report nearly $80K in donations this month; disclosure complaint set for Wednesday hearing

By Bethany Krajelis | Oct 30, 2012


More than $80,000 has made its way into the race for Madison County State’s Attorney this month alone, according to records from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The campaign committee of State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons, who is running as Democrat to keep the position he was appointed to in 2010, has reported receiving about $63,000 in donations since Oct. 1.

During the same period of time, Gibbons’ Republican opponent, Alton attorney Amy Sholar, has reported getting about $20,000 in contributions, all but $3,000 of which came from Sholar herself.

Disclosure records show that the vast majority of the donations Gibbons' committee has reported so far this month came from local law firms and lawyers.

Gibbons’ committee reported on Oct. 12 that it received $31,000 in contributions from attorneys at The Simmons Law Firm in Alton, as well as from the firm’s chairman and chief executive and financial officers.

Each of the firm’s management shareholders – Michael Angelides, John Barnerd, Ted Gianaris and Perry Browder – donated $3,000, as did its chairman, John Simmons; CEO Gregg Kirkland and CFO David Bamper.

The remainder of the $31,000 came in the form of $1,000 donations from 10 Simmons’ attorneys and shareholders.

Records also show that Gibbons’ committee on Oct. 4 reported a $10,000 contribution from the Edwardsville law firm of Gori Julian & Associates.

That same day, the committee reported that the firm’s named attorneys, Randy Gori and Barry Julian, each contributed $5,000, which combines with the firm’s donation for a total of $20,000 in contributions to Gibbons’ campaign this month alone.

In addition, Goldenberg, Heller Antognoli & Rowland in Edwardsville donated $5,000 and Short & Smith in Wood River contributed $2,000 this month to Gibbons’ campaign.

Gibbons’ committee also reported receiving $1,000 from each of the following law firms since Oct. 1: the Law Offices of W.M.E. Miller in East Alton; Johnston Law Offices in Edwardsville; and Schoen, Walton, Telken & Foster in East St. Louis.

While Gibbons’ committee reported about $63,000 in donations this month, records show Sholar’s committee received much less.

The majority of the $20,000 in donations that Sholar’s committee reported this month came from the candidate herself.

Records show that Sholar’s committee on Oct. 16 reported two donations totaling $17,000 from Sholar.

Her committee also reported receiving a $1,000 contribution from each of the following: Deer Pointe Financial Co. in Alton; Table Rock Supply in Highland and Citizens for Kay, the campaign committee of Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Carbon Glen.
In its last quarterly report, which included campaign disclosures between July 1 and Sept. 30, Sholar’s committee on Oct. 15 reported that it had received nearly $34,300 in donations.

Her committee also reported spending about $8,700 during the three month period, leaving it with about $63,800 as of Sept. 30.

According to the quarterly report Gibbons’ committee filed on Oct. 15, it received about $38,800 in contributions during the three month period. His committee spent about $66,150 and had about $37,800 left as of late last month, records show.

Sholar’s committee, however, filed two amendments to its quarterly report on Oct. 20 and Oct. 26. The amendments came shortly after Gibbons’ campaign filed a complaint with the Board of Elections, claiming that Sholar failed to disclose all of her committee’s contributions and expenditures.

Gibbons specifically questioned why Sholar’s committee did not report the nearly $10,000 it spent on a television commercial.

Sholar previously said her committee had inadvertently omitted some in-kind contributions related to a July fundraiser. Her committee’s Oct. 20 amendment added those in-kind contributions to its quarterly report.

As for the claim over advertising expenditures, Madison County Republican Party Chairman Andy Carruthers said the committee didn’t include that expenditure because Sholar paid for it over the phone with her personal credit card and wasn’t reimbursed until the reporting period ended.

Carruthers, who serves as treasurer of Sholar’s campaign committee, said an informal hearing on the complaint took place last week.

He represented Sholar at the hearing and David Cates represented Courtney Rakers-Breckenridge, who filed the complaint on behalf of Gibbons’ campaign.
Carruthers said a hearing officer with the Board of Elections recommended that Sholar’s committee re-categorize her personal credit card expenditures as cash advances or loans.

Sholar’s committee took that recommendation and on Oct. 26, filed an amendment that did so.

Carruthers said state law does not sufficiently explain what to do in this particular situation, as to whether a candidate needs to report the expenditure on the date of the credit card purchase or the date of reimbursement.

Tom Newman, the hearing officer in the matter, wrote in his recommendation report that there was no reason to believe Sholar’s omission of the in-kind contributions “was anything other than inadvertent and unintentional and since they have been included on an amended report this is essentially a non-issue.”

He said the advertising expenditure issue raised in the complaint, however, is “trickier.”

“Statute provides a clear definition of when a contribution is considered to have been received by a committee, but there is no such clear definition for expenditure dates, particularly in the case of credit card purchases,” Newman wrote.

Because Sholar’s committee was “receiving the benefits of the expenditures” in September, when the commercial began airing, Newman wrote that the expenditures should have been reported on the last quarterly report.

“[I]t is clear the committee’s failure to report the advertising expenditures on its quarterly report came not from any willful intent to circumvent the law, but from genuine confusion as to what reporting was actually required,” Newman wrote in his report.

“I recommend the complaint be found to have been filed on justifiable grounds, but that no public hearing be ordered,” he wrote, ordering Sholar’s committee to amend its report.

Carruthers said the full board will hear the matter on Wednesday, when he expects it will follow the hearing officer’s recommendation.

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