Surplus campaign funds at issue for councilman
It was reported in the local media in June that Jeff Freeman had donated a total of $600 in surplus City Council campaign funds to the Waynesboro Senior Center and to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge.
The campaign-finance report on file with the city voter registrar’s office that gave us that tidbit also offered this one that went unreported in the local media – that Freeman had tried to pay himself $410.74 for future Council-related expenses with remaining surplus campaign funds.
A letter on the matter went out from the voter registrar’s office to Freeman following his June 15 report filing. City registrar Lisa Wooten said Monday it is her understanding that state law prohibits candidates from diverting funds raised for campaign purposes to go toward expenses related to elected office.
There could be some question on that after a quick read of the state code. Section 24.2-948.4 of the state code delineates what candidates are to do with surplus campaign funds, and lists under subsection vi “defraying any ordinary, nonreimbursed expense related to his elective office.”
At question would be whether or not Freeman could claim any “ordinary, nonreimbursed” expenses.
Freeman, elected to represent Ward C on City Council in the May city elections, earns a $5,100 annual salary for his service on City Council.
State law is clear on the point related to the personal use of surplus campaign funds. “It shall be unlawful for any person to convert any contributed moneys, securities, or like intangible personal property to his personal use or to the use of a member of the candidate’s ‘immediate family,” Section 24.2-948.4 mandates.
Freeman filed an amended report with the registrar’s office on July 15 showing $134.95 in expenditures related to small gifts purchased for campaign volunteers and a balance in his campaign account of $275.79.
Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.