Thursday, October 05, 2006

Saxton pays $1 and $4 for office rent?

Campaign finance and expenditure reports for the various candidates came out on Monday.

GOP goobernatorial candidate Ron Saxton's has what I consider a funky expenditure (Warning: PDF file--see page 172)

Once you're finally able to scroll through the massive 216 page document to page 172, scan down to #3. Dated 6/21/06 is check #1968 to Melvin Mark Properties. The purpose of the expenditure is listed as "rent" and the check amount is $1.

$1 for rent? Sweet! Hook a girl up, Saxtonites!

Now scroll down three more spots to #6. 6/21/06, check #170 to Melvin Mark Properties once again. This time the purpose is "office space" in the amount of $4.

That Saxton campaign is kick ass at finding a bargain, eh?

Its not illegal (that I know of) to give a political candidate a lowball price for rent or office space. But if its below market value, its my understanding that this must be reported as an "in-kind" contribution. I scrolled through the "Cash Contributions, Loans Received and In-Kind" pages (page 3-168) and found no declaration of an in-kind donation to Saxton from Melvin Mark Properties.

I then checked to see where Saxton's offices are located throughout the state. I thought perhaps Melvin Mark might own one of the buildings where Saxton has an office. I didn't check every single county (it was getting kind of expensive to wait on hold long distance while the various assessor's offices were dealing with other customers and looking stuff up). But I called Baker, Clackamas, Benton, Deschutes, Multnomah and Washington Counties. None of the addresses listed as a Saxton office/sign pick up are owned by Melvin Mark Properties.

However, the other thing Melvin Mark Properties does is brokerage. So perhaps these are brokerage fees?

So I called them. I spoke with a very nice receptionist who said none of the brokers wanted to talk to me. Heh. She put me through to a voice mail of some poor sap who is a broker there and was out of the office. I explained what I wanted and hopefully he'll call me back. If not, I'll try again tomorrow.

Having run into so many roadblocks trying to find out what these expenditures are, I finally decided to go to the source: the Saxton campaign. I called them this afternoon and spoke with an extremely nice young man named "Tim". Tim generously looked up the PDF file with me from his computer and after somewhat of a struggle paging through the document, finally made it to the correct page. Tim says he'll be forwarding my questions on this issue to Angela Wihelms, Saxton's communications person.

I left my phone number with Tim for Angela to call me back.

More on this as it unfolds.

[Update: 3:25]: A very nice man named "Felix" from the Saxton Campaign just called me back. The office space and rent are in fact in-kind contributions. They are listed on page 167, the first entry. Its under Crown Plaza- $15,600 for 5 months of office rent. On the expenditure, the $1 is the brokerage fee and the $4 is apparently the office rent. They're not allowed to accept the space and brokerage for free, Felix informs me.