Does this sound familiar: Candidates who won their elections are accused of leaving out key required information from their financial campaign disclosures, which under Utah law could lead to invalidating the elections.
While that is what Utah Attorney John Swallow faced as he resigned last week, another case with similar allegations has arisen about two winning candidates in Centerville.
George McEwan, a losing candidate for the City Council, says Mayor-elect Paul Cutler and City Councilwoman-elect Tami Fillmore both omitted key expenses from disclosure forms that could have changed the election. They deny that, and say McEwan omitted naming some donors on his own form and is continuing “groundless accusations” made and dismissed in court before the election.
As McEwan says, “It’s a real cat fight.”
City Recorder Marsha Morrow said she has received about a dozen complaints about the disclosure forms of Cutler and Fillmore, including a complaint from McEwan. She said she has not made any determination on their validity, and plans to meet with the city attorney Tuesday to discuss the allegations.
McEwan notified reporters Monday about the complaints, saying he wants a ruling on them before the pair take office.
About the mayor-elect, he said — and disclosures show — that Cutler did not report how much money the Salt Lake Board of Realtors gave “in kind” to his campaign for a Facebook ad campaign. Instead of listing an amount, it said “TBD” for “to be determined,” and noted it was an ongoing campaign. McEwan says Facebook provides daily billing, so Cutler failed to report what was available.
Cutler said Monday, “I tried to be completely up- front about my spending. I did not have a total amount available, but reported what was happening.” He added that realtors had not yet received an ad invoice when he filed the disclosure.
He said he believes the ads cost in the neighborhood of $1,000, and will include exact amounts in a final, upcoming disclosure form.
Meanwhile, McEwan asserts that Fillmore did not disclose some campaign mailers or their cost. But Fillmore said, “I stand by the accuracy of my disclosure form.”
She said McEwan “is continuing to make groundless accusations against me, which he did before the election.” McEwan sued the city to try to remove Fillmore from the ballot, contending she did not follow city time guidelines for filing her disclosure form between 10 and seven days before the election.
She initially filed it early — saying she did so based on schedule information given her by the city — and then amended it six days before the election. A court hearing was held a day before the election, and McEwan said he withdrew his suit because he was representing himself against attorneys for the city and the lieutenant governor’s office.
Both Fillmore and Cutler also contended Monday that McEwan had not disclosed names of some donors, and said they might push that if McEwan continues to push his complaints.
It all has a familiar ring because last week a special counsel for the Lieutenant Governor’s Office said it found that Swallow had five violations of law — each could have invalidated his election — by intentionally failing to disclose some payments and ties to businesses.
Swallow also has been accused of facilitating bribes, promising preferential treatment in exchange for donations, extortion and receiving improper gifts.
Swallow has denied any wrongdoing, and said his resignation was unrelated to the report from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. He said he resigned because he could no longer afford the legal fights related to investigations against him.