The Norman Transcript

May 30, 2013

City council campaign reports clarified

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman City Attorney Jeff Bryant provided the election commission with information on Wednesday afternoon that clarified previous questions about two groups filing expenditure reports for the city council campaigns.

The Norman Chamber of Commerce was one of the groups in question after they sent out mailers which some felt opposed incumbent candidates. However, after further review of the Norman code provision and federal election laws, Bryant said the language used on the mailers was not specifically targeting any candidate, therefore the laws do not require them to file.

“I think we would be hard-pressed under our Norman code provision to require them to file those reports,” he said.

Bryant said the chamber did offer to come in voluntarily to file those reports and disclose how much they spent on the particular mailers, but did not feel they were required by law.

“They were very forthcoming that they never intended to hide or to not take responsibility for the positions that were taken on those fliers,” he said.

“Their view of what those fliers were for was to talk about topics, not particular candidates, but about topics about what they perceived as a way of changing the discussions in an election cycle and looked at ways to improve the business climate in Norman.”

The other group in question was the Better Norman Advocates Inc. and whether or not they had filed their expenditures in a timely manner. The deadline for filing the reports was March 22. The group did not file until March 29.

It was initially believed the expenditures occurred after the March 22 deadline, Bryant said. However, after further research from assistant city attorney Kristen Bell, they learned the expenditures actually occurred before the filing deadline.

Bryant said they informed the advocacy group who took full responsibility for the mistake.

“They apologized, said it was not intentional at all,” he said.

Under the Norman code provision, there is a fine of $10 per day up to $100 for missing the deadline. Since the group was seven days late, they paid a $70 fine.

“I don’t think it would’ve come to their attention if it were not for the hard work of Kristina so I appreciate her effort on that,” Bryant said.

Aside from discussion of those two groups, the commission reviewed campaign contributions and expenditures for all of the candidates. Both the municipal and state reports were reviewed for each candidate.

The only discussions about the reports included a contribution labeled as an analyst to Robert Castleberry, Ward 3, which board members said they would like more information about and an item listed under Linda Lockett’s state report as “Vote Kauffman.”

The item was a filing requirement to close Lockett’s campaign account, which City Clerk Brenda Hall said she would be following up on.

The state report for Greg Heiple, Ward One, was also tabled until the election commission’s next meeting because Hall forgot to bring copies of it. The state report shows the same items listed on the municipal report though Hall said, which was available at the meeting.

All other campaign contributions and expenditures for candidates were accepted without much discussion.

Jessica Bruha