Attention to detail

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

You would expect a self-styled fiscal conservative to be fastidious when it comes to dealings with money issues. I don’t know that we’re seeing that out of Councilman-elect Bruce Allen quite yet.

I visited the registrar’s office this afternoon to check campaign-finance reports filed yesterday by candidates who took part in the May city elections, and after raising questions about some items that I think are missing from the Allen campaign’s report was told by city registrar Mary Alice Downs that it is her understanding that Allen has a couple of campaign debts still outstanding.

I have a hunch as to what they might be – specifically in the areas of radio advertising, for which there is one lone line item for $700 to date, a total that I expect to see going up when the Allen campaign closes the books on its ’08 effort, and its phone banks, the only accounting for which right now has a curious-at-first-glance figure of $500 attached to it.

There could be one other item missing – regarding an April fund-raiser that was hosted at the Best Western in the West End. There was no direct campaign expenditure listed in the Allen campaign’s most recent report related to the event, nor any listed in-kind contribution in the form of the estimated value associated with the use of the facility for the night that should have a cost attached to it, even if no money actually exchanged hands.

(There was an item listed on Allen’s most recent report in the area of monetary contributions from the hotel’s manager, Perry Fridley, in the amount of $500. That could be the accounting for the event, though it is not so noted in the report.)

I’m not trying to suggest that the Allen camp has done anything wrong or illegal or anything of that nature here. To the contrary, it should be pointed out by me that the matter of any unpaid debts would strictly be between Allen and those to whom his campaign might owe money. Me, personally, I’d like to know how much his campaign ultimately spent on its election effort, and my instincts tell me that it’s a good bit more than the $6,125.27 that is on the bottom line as of right now, but that’s just me.

There is a bigger issue here, of course. Allen sold himself to the voters as a conscientious steward of city-taxpayer money. It appears from a look at his campaign-finance reports that he has some work to do to be able to rightly call himself that.

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