The State Board of Elections has levied the maximum fine allowed against two Chapel Hill politicians for filing late 2015 year-end campaign finance reports.
Council member Donna Bell and former Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt were fined $500 each in July, according to certified letters sent to their campaign treasurers.
Both reports were due Jan. 29. Kleinschmidt, who lost his re-election bid last fall, filed his report Feb. 22. Bell, the only incumbent candidate re-elected, filed her report March 15. She also filed her pre-election report a month after the Oct. 19 deadline.
Candidates who are assessed fines can appeal them within 15 days or pay them within 30 days.
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Kleinschmidt appealed his late penalty Aug. 4, noting that his filing was late because his sister Michelle Hoover, who is also his treasurer, suffered a serious illness in January.
Bell said Thursday she had gotten a note from the mail carrier about a certified letter and signed the note, but she hasn’t gotten the letter. She plans to get in touch with the state and pay the fine, Bell said.
“At this point, I just want it done. I don’t want to appeal. I don’t want to extend the process at all, because if the criteria is reports are late no matter what, then that is my situation and I need to pay the fine,” she said.
The state also is looking into a number of donations made to both campaigns before the election by development, real estate and related interests.
The state Board of Elections office has gotten inquiries about the late donations, compliance specialist Sheryll Allen Harris said. The state board doesn't deal with the ethics of who made a donation, she said, but it is reviewing when the campaigns received the checks.
Both campaigns reported getting checks after the November election that were dated before the Oct. 19 filing deadline.
Bell’s March campaign filing shows she received $11,638 from development, real estate and related interests before the November election. She filed her pre-election report – due Oct. 19 – on Nov. 20.
Her year-end campaign finance report, filed March 23, shows she got 46 donations worth $13,933 by Oct. 30. At least 40 donations were dated before Oct. 19.
Kleinschmidt reported roughly $12,800 from campaign donors with development, real estate and construction ties before the election, reports show. A dozen – totaling over $4,000 – were listed in a report filed Feb. 22.
Many were listed without specifying the dates when they were received.