Friday, April 16, 2010

Leighton's Campaign Finances- Ethical Issues

The Times Leader ran an article about donations from Marvin Slomowitz and William Rinaldi in reference to the dredge project in Hazleton. For some unknown reason reporter Andrew Seder brought State Rep. John Yudicahk into the donation picture without doing a similar look at Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton. Of course those on the inside know that Rep. Todd Eachus and Congressman Paul Kanjorski are supporting Leighton's efforts against Yudichak in the Senate race to replace retiring Senator Ray Musto's seat.

A look at Leighton's campaign finance records on the Luzerne County website reveals some interesting information.

Within the 6th Tuesday Pre-Election Campaign Finance Report the following donations bring up some curious questions. Diamond Manufacturing Company is listed as a $400.00 donor on 06/246/2009 found on page 16. Diamond Manufacturing is listed as a corporation on the state's Corporation Bureau. Pennsylvania prohibits direct corporate donations to campaigns.

In the 2nd Friday Pre-Election CFR in 2008 West Side Hammer Electric Inc, another corporate donor, of Bethlehem is listed as a donor in the amount of $300.00 on 07/09/2008.

Seder failed to point out Marvin Slomovitz's donation to Leighton on 05/27/2009 in the amount of $300.00 found on page 12.

Falzone Realty is listed with a donation of $300.00 on 03/27/2009 (and 06/12/2008) found on page 12 but a search for that entity failed to produce any results on the Corporate Bureau, Department of State licensing or

Oddly enough Falzone Towing Service, Inc., another Pennsylvania corporation, is listed at the address, 365 Pierce Street, Kingston, on the CFR and the Corporate Bureau. Since there is no listing at the Department of State for a realtor there seems to be a huge question about the validity of that donation.

Kane for District Justice is listed as a donor on page 10 in the total amount of $500.00 listed as $300.00 on 06/11/2009 and $200.00 on 06/29/2009. According to the Judicial Cannon 7 District Justices are not permitted to engage in political activity of this type. (1) A judge or a candidate for election to judicial office should not: (c) solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate.

Robert Mericle gave a $300.00 donation on 06/10/2009 listed on page 19 and was charged by the U.S. Attorney's office on 08/13/2009. It had been common knowledge that Mr. Mericle was Participant No. 2 in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney on January 31, 2009 in the Luzerne County corruption scandal. Why did Tom Leighton accept the donation and why wasn't it returned?

On the in-kind contributions list are donations from Rodano's Restaurant and Patt Patte. If you read this Legal Opinion from the Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board gift certificates awarded as prizes must be for food only, as the awarding of gift certificates that include alcoholic beverages would be prohibited for the reasons provided in response to your first question. Was there a disclaimer on those gift certificates?

In the 2nd Pre-Primary 2008 CFR Leighton lists a loan to himself from the campaign on 01/17/2008 in the amount of $2,000.00 found on page 6. He repays the loan back to the campaign on 04/01/2008 found on page 5. Loans to committees are permissable but loans from a campaign committee to oneself is another question.

In the 2nd Friday Pre-Election CFR from 2008 the report lists a fee for a bounced check on 07/25/2008 found on page 25.

One suspects Leighton felt comfortable with his reports and didn't anticipate Ray Musto's retirement or the scrutiny his candidacy would cause.

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