At least one critic of the town's public financing program is questioning why most candidates didn't file their special pre-election campaign finance reports on time.
Pre-election reports were due on Oct. 26 and then again on Oct. 29. Only Matt Czajkowski, Matt Pohlman and Laurin Easthom hit the Oct. 29 deadline with a postmark. As of Oct. 28, Czajkowski had raised more than $30,000 and spent more than $25,000 on his mayoral campaign.
In 2007, Czajkowski spent more than $15,000 between the first "pre-election" report 10 days out and the election itself, prompting the council to insert a "special" pre-election report due a few days before the election.
"It's actually there so that people who aren't participating [in public financing] can show people what they are doing near the end," said Mayor-elect Kleinschmidt, who qualified for $9,000 in public funding plus another $4,000 in rescue funds because Czajkowski topped $21,000 in contributions.
But Czajkowski-supporter Greg Gerdau criticized Kleinschmidt and top vote-getter Penny Rich for not submitting the special reports on time.
"Certain Town Council members were so furious two years ago about money spent in between the 'pre-election report' and the election that they put in the 'special pre-election report' which obviously is supposed to be filed immediately prior to the election," wrote Gerdau in an e-mail to the N.C. State Board of Elections. "Why was this not enforced? ... Why are you not requiring candidates spending taxpayer money on their own elections to be timely and transparent in their reporting of its expenditure?"
Rich did finally file hers on Nov. 5, a week late. Overall, Rich collected more than $1,400 in individual contributions and nearly $2,900 in public funds and spent nearly all of it. Kleinschmidt said he filed by Nov. 6, though his report still doesn't show up on the Board of Elections web site.
"That was a complete oversight on our part, and apparently everyone else's, and I regret that," he said.
Councilman-elect Gene Pease still hasn't filed his, according to the BOE, nor have outgoing incumbent Jim Merritt, challenger Jon DeHart or mayoral candidates Augustus Cho or Kevin Wolff. Town Council challenger Will Raymond filed his a day late.
UPDATE: Augustus Cho called to say he didn't know about the special report and would check with the State Board of Elections Wednesday to find out if he needed to comply. Kleinschmidt told me the board hadn't warned any of the candidates of the coming deadline, which he acknowledged was not an excuse. The lack of notice apparently tripped up a lot of them.