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March 26, 2013

Mayoral race expenses raise questions

NORMAN — Although a few Norman city election campaign expenditures are raising possible legal questions, City Clerk Brenda Hall said the questions, which regard consulting fees collected by a Norman City Council member from a mayoral candidate, are for legal counsel or the district attorney to answer and not within the Norman Election Commission’s purview.

The Election Commission met Monday and gave city candidate campaign reports a thumbs up, with few exceptions. 

Campaign contributions have been reported with no major problems. Incumbent Mayor Cindy Rosenthal has raised almost $90,000 and expects to report close to $100,000 by the final reporting deadline next week based on her expenditures.

That’s nearly twice the money raised by her two challengers combined. Tom Sherman has raised $57,985, and David Kempf has made a self-loan of $180 to pay for advertising and consulting. Compared to previous Norman campaigns, this one is a relatively low-cost election. 

However, some campaign expenditures have drawn interest by supporters, especially Sherman paying fees to current City Council member Tom Kovach.

The Norman City Code 2-103 on council ethics, conflict of interest, states that “an elected City Official shall not use his office to endorse or oppose any candidate for office.”

Sherman paid AIC Consulting LLC of Norman — a firm co-owned by Kovach — $3,750. He also listed Kovach, 1426 Beverly Hills, personally for another $3,750 for campaign consulting. A third expenditure connecting Kovach to the Sherman campaign lists Ranch Camp LLC, also at 1426 Beverly Hills, for $2,500 for campaign consulting. Records indicate David W. (Will) Weir is an officer in Ranch Camp. Weir is Kovach’s longtime life partner.

Kovach maintains that providing professional consulting services is not “endorsing” Sherman for office.

Hall said whether Kovach’s professional involvement with the Sherman campaign is a violation of city ethics law is a legal matter and not within the purview of the Norman Election Commission.

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