Friday, October 10, 2003

Murgatroyd penalized $1,300

Campaign-fund violations attributed to bookkeeping errors

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd's 2002 reelection campaign has paid $1,300 in penalties after admitting to breaking election finance laws, state election finance officials confirmed Thursday.

Sarah Jackson, executive director of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, said Thursday that Murgatroyd's campaign was found in violation of:

• Two counts of filing incomplete election finance reports. Each count carried a penalty of $500.

• Three counts of taking individual contributions over the $1,000 limit set by state law. Each count carried a $100 penalty.

Jackson said the penalties have been paid and all of Murgatroyd's campaign finance reports have been updated.

The bipartisan registry board levies fines "to show the seriousness" of the violations, Jackson said.

Murgatroyd admitted to the violations in documents submitted to the registry. Messages left at his home were not returned Thursday night.

Crescent Springs lawyer Lawson Walker served as treasurer of Murgatroyd's campaign. He said Thursday that the violations were honest bookkeeping and recording errors and not an attempt to intentionally skirt campaign finance laws.

"We put two reports together very quickly. Due to our computer system going down, we counted some contributions twice," Walker said. "It looks a lot worse that it really is.

"We weren't trying to hide contributions. We reported everything. In fact we reported too much."

Walker took responsibility for the errors.

"Richard Murgatroyd had nothing to do with this," Walker said.

Covington Democrat Joe Meyer, a former state senator, filed a complaint with the state during last year's election. Meyer was an advisor to Patrick Hughes, the Fort Wright Democrat Murgatroyd defeated.

Meyer said he filed the complaint because of Murgatroyd's "questionable fund-raising tactics and incredibly sloppy reporting."

At the time Murgatroyd's campaign dismissed the violations as "mistakes" and accused Meyer and the Democrats of "dirty politics."

Walker said the money was paid to the registry out of Murgatroyd's campaign fund.


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