Any Fire Behind Mannix's Smoke?

Jeff Alworth

The State of Oregon has opened an investigation into complaints that Kevin Mannix violated campaign finance laws

The complaint by Ernest Delmazzo of West Linn notes discrepancies between a detailed report filed by the Mannix campaign in mid-September and daily reports filed during and after this year's legislative session....  The state Elections Division said the allegations, if true, could be civil violations of state law.

This is not the first time Mannix has tested the flexibility of election law.  In 2002, during his last run for governor, Mannix used a loophole in the law to funnel money given to two Mannix PACs into his gubernatorial warchest.  The DoJ investigated, but ultimately declined to prosecute. 

These latest charges were brought by a political foe, and they're civil, not criminal.  Still, Fred Neal, the campaign finance  manager for the Elections Division, said he noticed discrepencies between reports filed last summer and those filed in September.  This is the second time Mannix's campaign finance practices have aroused the attention of state regulators. Kevin Mannix would like to become governor, with a large stake in deciding how the state spends billions of tax dollars.  Is it time to start questioning whether we want him fiddling with our cash?

[Update: Ernie Delmazzo, who brought the complaint against Mannix, offers a clarification in the comments below.  He also links to a pdf of his original complaint.]

Comments

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Ernie has been dogging Mannix for years and deserves our thanks. Remember that the questionable C&E items concern very large amounts of money. These are not the sort of mistakes made because one is hurrying through the accounting of trivial items. As is often the case - think Paul DeLay - it is the most fiscally questionable Republicans who rise to leadership positions in the Party of Larceny.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Actually I think of Dan Doyle and TOM DeLay, but I appreciate Tom's point.

  • Aaron (unverified)
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    Hmm Sen. Atkinson and Ron Saxton could get a big bump on this on if the SOS-Election Division fines Kevin Mannix "guilty" of this compliant.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    LT,

    Actually, I was just listening to Paul blow harp and had his name on my mind. Tom DeLay, on the other hand, just blows.

  • Ernie Delmazzo (unverified)
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    Since I researched the C&E reports and filed the complaint, I'd like to correct an inadvertent error by the Statesman Journal. It appears The Oregonian was the only one who carefully read the complaint since other media outlets are parroting the Statesman Journal.

    The first report signed and submitted by Mannix on September 1 listed the $45,000 as a “cash” contribution. The September Supplemental, filed on September 12, reported it as a “loan.” The news reports imply the opposite. It’s important to note that September 1 was the last day of the reporting period that covered one year. Whether Mannix had a change of heart, perhaps due to lackluster fundraising in the twelve days or made an innocent mistake isn’t relevant. Listing different expenditure types violates Oregon law. The first report, since Mannix has said this week it was actually a loan, was never amended.

    I’ve placed the entire complaint here (I marked out my contact info). Mannix is the committee treasurer. Since the complaint filing, I’ve learned of a typo at #16. I typed $5,000 even though the accompanying exhibit lists $3,000. Also, I’ve since been told that the name of Derrick Kitts’ company is DKINC and not Derrick Kitts, Inc. as Mannix listed. That’s a violation by Mannix.

    As far as the missing checks The Oregonian mentioned, even though it’s clear now not to be a violation, since candidates running against Mannix can request an in-person review of documents (bank statements, checks, etc.) this information would help them. On two occasions, missing checks are consecutive and that in itself is worthy of investigation.

    Of the sixteen or so irregularities, about one-third directly involve contributions by Kevin Mannix or his law firm.

    Oregonians expect those who wish to lead to be competent and above reproach in their contribution and expenditure reports. Is Mannix ethically-challenged or simply incompetent managing money? You decide. What’s clear is that we need real election finance reform. It’s unlikely Dan Doyle is alone in being a poster child for abuse in the current system.

    I’m not in the habit of plugging Republican sites but there's some interesting points made at nwrepublican.

  • chris (unverified)
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    It is interesting that Mannix has been proven guilty before the SOS has completed their investigation. Anyone familiar with SOS complaints knows that many of them turn out to be invalid (I recall a certain Oregon State Senator who also had complaints filed against her recently). Having said that, Democrats should ask Teddy K what SOS fined him during his last campaign. I think you would be surprised. The problem in Oregon is that C&Es are very complicated and, more likely than not, all major candidates will be hit with a civil penalty sooner or later. If these allegations prove to be true, kudos to Ernie for do the SOS job for them. If not, this will be one nasty campaign. Democrats better watch their backs, since I know Ernie is not the only one watching how dollars are spent. (P.S.: Ernie, to be far, why don't you analyze how Teddy K has spent our tax dollars over the last three years. State Police, SAIF, Lottery, etc., ring a bell?)

  • LT (unverified)
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    Democrats better watch their backs, since I know Ernie is not the only one watching how dollars are spent

    This remark implies everyone belongs to a "side" in a state where neither party has a majority of the registered voters.

    I am one of those who voted for Ted K in the primary and general in 2002 and hopes Kitzhaber and/or Westlund run this year.

    And a warning for Chris and all others who think this could be a Ted vs. Kevin rematch and everyone is on the same "side" they were last time.

    My unhappiness with Kulongoski stems from such things as lauding the "improving economy" which may mean someone laid off a couple years ago is now working less than 10 hours a week--not enough to make ends meet (a Republican friend is equally angry about this "improving economy" thing). Not to mention "where's Waldo" (he was supposed to be the gladhanding anti-Kitzhaber, so why did he spend so much time behind closed doors in negotiations with very few legislators?) and the political tin ear of the AuCoin nomination which allowed Ted Ferrioli to gain fans like me for the masterful (and positive) way he handled the opposition to that stupid nomination.

    Yes, I know sometimes C & E charges are thrown back and forth. I am also related to a former campaign treasurer so I know how complex the C & Es can be. I also know it is true that having a CPA as treasurer is a great idea if it is someone you can trust. And the saying is also true "if you can't trust a CPA like you trust your mother, you are better off training your mother (or someone else you trust implicitly) because it is easier to learn how to put together a C & E than it is to learn ethics".

    Here in Salem there are people who have known Kevin M. for decades (back when he was a Democrat) and formed their own opinion of him long before he filed to run for Gov. in 2002. So the idea that a charge was made against him "just to make him look bad" sounds pretty thin to those who made up their minds about Kevin long before they knew Ernie existed.

  • Ernie Delmazzo (unverified)
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    Researching three years of state expenditures, etc. is a hefty research project I simply don’t have the time or inclination to do uncompensated. As I’m a professional researcher, you are free to hire me at $25/hour. There are organizations like the Oregon Center for Public Policy who have done excellent work in this area.

    Not only have I been a political committee treasurer for several years, one of my research specialties is issues related to campaign finance. I believe at least eleven of the infractions cited in the complaint are undisputable violations of law.

    I’ve publicly criticized (The Oregonain, etc.) both D’s and R’s on numerous issues when I’ve felt them to be wrong.

    Mannix, with one short-term exception, has been treasurer of all his PCs since the late nineties. So why doesn’t he hire a professional? One reason was highlighted by Willamette Week. I’ll let readers figure out other reasons.

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