The Marshall County Election Board conducted a Hearing for the late finance report of Bob Byers who ran for the Argos Town Council.
Election Board President, Rick Huff told those gathered that campaign laws require proper and timely submissions of financial reports. It also requires a hearing before implementing a penalty and, “the board got ahead of ourselves, and I apologize for that.” The board had put a $75 penalty on Byers for submitting his report late and then had to rescind the penalty.
Robert (Bob) Byers admitted to the Election Board he did turn in his report late. He was in Disney World in Florida with his family and forgot about the due date for the report. When he finally remembered it was midweek and he was out of state. He turned the report in as quickly as he could. He said he is fairly new to being a politician and he hoped the board would be gracious in their decision.
Byers then told the Election Board he had a problem because he was not notified directly by them. He then read an excerpt from the Pilot News about withdrawing the fine that had been imposed and the public hearing for December 4th. He said, “ The only notification I received from the Marshall County Election Board and or the Marshall County Clerk’s Office potentially doing the paperwork for the election board, I don’t know if that’s how it works or not but I wanted to clarify that, it the fact that I received the fine. Not that there was an initial hearing. Not that the fine was withdrawn. Not that there was a new hearing scheduled. Any information other than the original fine that I have received about my campaign from the election board is from these two fine ladies (Jamie Fleury and Anita Goodan) and Kathy Bottorff with WTCA.”
Byers’ Financial Report does include his address, email address, and phone number.
County Clerk Jenny Bennitt showed him a copy of a November 14th email that was sent to him and learned that it was sent to an address that wasn’t correct.
Byers asked why when the fine was imposed he received a letter in the mail but the notice of the meeting was sent by email and not the regular mail.
Rick Huff said the Election Board will be conducting another hearing on December 20th for Ginny Munroe and they could reschedule his hearing the that date.
Byers said, “I think rescheduling it at this point since we are all here would not only be kind of a waste of everybody’s time. I’m tired of seeing my name get drug through the mud on news article after news article about the election campaign report so let’s just move on with the hearing.”
President Huff asked if Mr. Byers had additional information to present on the issue and explained that the board doesn’t like to impose penalties because they don’t like to and they would waive them in most cases where people haven’t been defiant, nasty, or intentionally non-compliant but if they always waive the penalty why would anyone get their reports in on time.
Byers said, “I plane forgot. Ignorance is no excuse for the law, plain and simple. I would hope the Election Board would see it in the best interest that I’m newer to the political spectrum as a politician and that it was an oversite on my point.”
Election Board member Adam Lukenbill asked if the board normally imposes a nominal penalty for a first-time late filer and Huff said yes usually the one-day rate.
Bennett said the fine is $50 a day so technically the board could have assessed a $350 fine. The report was 7 days late. The other report was 3 days late. Initially, Byers was assessed a $75 fine, and the other candidate received a $50 fine.
Lukenbill suggested assessing a minimal fine of $50 and the three members of the Election Board agreed.
The form from today’s meeting will be emailed and mailed to Byers. The penalty can be paid by the campaign or personally within 15 days in the Clerk’s Office.
On December 20th the Election Board will conduct a hearing on the late campaign finance report filing of Ginny Munroe and The Friends of Culver who haven’t filed a report since the first quarter of this year.