Elections officials have no record that O'Donnell ever filed a campaign finance report. He instead filed an affidavit, indicating he would not spend or receive more than $250. These affidavits are accepted at face value unless there is a complaint and evidence to rebut the claim.
That evidence is strewn around the County, in the form of campaign signs that are planted next to Christen Borso's. Those two got an early start.
O'Donnell's signs come from SignRocket. If he ordered 500 of them, with stands, it would cost him $1,000. For 500 more, he'd pay $1,750. Clearly, he spent more than $250, just for his plastic.
In addition, O'Donnell made a contribution to the County Democratic party for a joint mailer, just like the other Democrats stuck with him. Borso gave $2,300; Ron Heckman gave $1,500; and Jerry Seyfried and Deb Hunter gave $2,500 each. I do not know how much O'Donnell gave because the County report is unavailable online. But I'm sure he's over $250.
According to Borso's Facebook page, there was also a September 21 Meet 'n Greet with O'Donnell on September 21. He could have raised money there.
He is also campaigning under a fictitious campaign committee.
I called O'Donnell about these problems yesterday. He did not return my call, but spoke to some others. O'Donnell told them he filed his finance reports with the state.
But that's untrue, too. The state office would reject O'Donnell's filing because he is a local, not a state, candidate. He is required by law to file in the elections office of the County where he is running. Moreover, there is no state record of any committee registered under O'Donnell's name.There is no state record that O'Donnell has ever filed a report there.
Our state campaign finance laws exist so the public can follow the money. The public has a right to know who is backing candidates for public office and how much they are giving to buy influence. The public also has a right to know what the candidate is doing with the money given to him. Even if it it is a candidate's own personal treasure, we have a right to know how it is spent.
O'Donnell has breached the public trust and broken state law in three ways:
1) He filed an affidavit pledging he would raise and spend no more than $250, and never corrected this after he must have realized he would go over.
2) His campaign signs falsely state that they were paid for by a candidate's committee, when no such committee ever existed.
3) He never, as a committee or individually, reported his contributions or expenses, even though they obviously exceed $250.
Though O'Donnell could be prosecuted for these offenses by the District Attorney, those are rare and I just think he's confused. But he should be assessed a late fee until he files, and asked to correct his signs to include the proper disclaimer.