Local hopefuls file financial infoOne-page reports offer few details, no campaign donations listed.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The 10 candidates for Mitchell city offices have filed financial disclosure statements, but don’t expect to find any bombshells in the one-page reports. The candidates are not required, either by state or city law, to report who donated to their campaign. Instead, they must fill out only a brief form asking a few identification questions, listing how they generate their income and asking if they own 10 percent or more of stock in a company or enterprise.
In 2011, Councilman Mel Olson, who is unopposed for a second term on June 5, asked the Mitchell City Council to add a campaign finance disclosure law to Mitchell election guidelines.
After several discussions, the issue was dropped.
“There’s a difference between a financial disclosure report and a campaign finance report,” Olson said Tuesday. “What I was interested in was knowing where the campaign funds were coming from.”
That includes candidates for mayor and council as well as ballot questions, he said.
For example, the committee against converting three one-way streets to two-way is spending money, Olson noted, but no one knows where it is coming from.
“That would be interesting to know,” he said.
The crowded field of six in the mayoral race means thousands of dollars are being spent on signs, billboards and mailings, Olson said, but no one can determine who is backing what candidate.
“It’s pretty clear from the signs there are four top candidates. Where’s their money coming from?” he asked, adding as a hypothetical, “Did all the money come from one individual who would like to sell property to the city?”
Olson said he’s not suggesting a person or business is trying to influence the city election.
“I think you would find out most people are financing their own races,” he said.
But, Olson said, he favors transparency on how campaigns are paid for.
Olson said he will not try to pass a campaign finance reporting law again. He said some members of the council told him they favored such a city law, but then “just cut me off at the knees at the public meeting.”
“I’ve had my run,” Olson said. “I’ll vote for it, but I’m not carrying the water again.”
He doubts it will be reintroduced by the council.
Olson said one of the claims made by critics of the city financial disclosure requirement was that it would take too much time. He dismissed that and said in his most expensive race for the Legislature, where such forms are mandated, it took him a half hour to fill out the form.
Mayoral disclosure reports
Mayoral candidates Jerry Toomey, John Claggett, Tara Volesky, Ken Tracy, Becky Haslam and Roger Haley all submitted the financial disclosure reports, which are different from and less thorough than the campaign finance reports required of county, school, statewide and national candidates.
The four unopposed candidates for seats on the Mitchell City Council, Councilmen Olson, Marty Barington, Jeff Smith and newcomer Randy Doescher, also filed the reports with the city.
• Toomey, who wrote “retired” for his occupation, listed a retirement package from Avera Health, a 20 percent military disability for which he receives $253 monthly, Social Security and ownership of rental property as sources of income.
His wife is employed by CHR Solutions. The report asks candidates to list income generated by a spouse or a minor child living at home.
Toomey listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Claggett listed Davison County commissioner, owner/operator of Home Inspection Associates and Sunday support staff at First United Methodist Church of Mitchell as his employers.
He also listed all three as sources of income and reported the home inspection business as his sole stock ownership of 10 percent or more.
• Volesky listed substitute teacher and mediator as her jobs.
She reported receiving income from the Mitchell and Mount Vernon school districts.
Volesky, who lives in Mitchell, does not list any income from her husband, Ron Volesky, a lawyer who lives in Huron.
Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson said she was unsure if Ron Volesky’s income needs to be listed and said she will seek the advice of legal counsel.
Secretary of State Jason Gant said the relevant state law was drafted in 1974, and he thinks the Legislature did not then think of married couples residing at separate addresses. Gant said he believes Ron Voleksy’s source of income should be added to the form.
Tara Volesky did not list any stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Tracy lists “retired” for employment.
He reports income from Social Security and the state employees’ retirement fund, as well as his salary as a city councilman.
His wife is employed by the Dental Care Center. Tracy does not report any stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Haslam lists youth supervisor as her job.
She lists Our Home Inc. as her employer and her husband’s employer. She did not report any stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Haley listed “retired” under employment.
He listed a pension and 401K as his sources of income and reported that both he and his wife receive Social Security.
Haley listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
Council disclosure reports
• Olson listed teacher under employment and reported that both he and his wife receive their income from the Mitchell School District.
He listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Barington listed his employment as a sales associate. His income comes from Custom Touch Homes and Quality Homes as well as his salary as a councilman. His wife is employed by Village Bowl.
He listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Smith is the chief financial officer of CorTrust Bank and his wife is an instructor at Mitchell Technical Institute.
He did not list his salary as a councilman on the report. Wilson said she would seek to correct that.
“I’ll probably have him add that,” she said.
Gant agreed, saying Smith should include his council salary. He said no penalty is likely for leaving that out.
Smith listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
• Doescher listed retired teacher under employment.
He listed pay as state director of the Skills USA program at MTI and early retirement from the school as well as money from the state retirement program under income. His wife is a teacher with the Mitchell School District.
Doescher listed no stock ownership of 10 percent or more of a firm.
When filing the reports, the candidates are obligated to swear an oath that they are telling the truth and then must sign a statement to that effect.
While Wilson said no efforts are made to determine the candidates are telling the truth, failing to file is a petty offense. Filing a false statement is a misdemeanor crime.
Candidates must submit the report within 15 days after they file for office and, if elected, file a second one within 15 days after they take the oath of office.
Losing candidates are not required to file a second report.