Sun
Jun 24 2012
09:14 am

KNS reports Allison Burchett wrote unreported checks to herself...

"The eight unrecorded checks, provided to the News Sentinel under the promise that the source remain anonymous, were written and cashed between March 16, 2010, and Jan. 9, 2012."

Curious timing. To quote Aretha, "who's zoomin' who?" The cold war doctrine of mutually assured destruction as a deterrent only works if all the ballistic missiles stay in their silos. The mushroom clouds will no doubt sell papers, though.

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Tess's picture

Who, what, where?

Who is her divorce attorney? Odd tactics, IMO.

As someone pointed out in the News Sentinel comments, if Burchett left the election files at the house that he formerly shared with Allison, it is pretty obvious who the anonymous source is for the cancelled checks and records.

You are right, Randy--a scorched earth divorce is looming--
and, nobody wins in those.

billy's picture

winners and losers

actually, there are winners in a scorched earth divorce. The lawyers.

R. Neal's picture

He said she said

Hard to speculate about the source of the documents:

The mayor said his wife kept the files and receipts and he assumes they're still at the couple's West Knoxville home. The mayor moved out in March and said he "no longer has access to it."

Allison Burchett said she is not "in possession of any receipts for the campaign, nor have I ever been." She said her husband should have them.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

"Promise the source will not be identified"?

What kind of rank amateur journalism is the News Sentinel engaging in at the Big Metal Shed? In my opinion, that is an indication that the copies of the checks came from Ms. Burchette. Financial account holders have a legal right and expectation of privacy for their documents/accounts/transations, etc. A simple inquiry by law enforcement would require the reporter to identify the source of those checks, regardless of the "promise not to tell" where they came from.

Does Scripss not train their reporters in the various shield laws and first amendment priviledges which attach to their sources and how to handle confidential information which under various state and federal laws they should not have?

Middle school newspapers are better written than this daily rag and the ethics challenges that the editor and the publisher seem to completely disregard indicates to me that this is another attempt to smear the unsmearable, probably because of the line in the sand drawn on the school boards $400 million budget and the refusal to allow another $35 million with a tax increase.

Barker's picture

Tennessee's Shield Law

TCA 24-1-208. Persons gathering information for publication or broadcast -
Disclosure.ó (a) A person engaged in gathering information for publication or broadcast connected with or employed by the news media or press, or who is independently engaged in gathering information for publication or broadcast, shall not be required by a court, a grand jury, the general assembly, or any administrative body, to disclose before the general assembly or any Tennessee court, grand jury, agency, department, or commission any information or the source of any information procured for publication or broadcast.
(b) Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to the source of any allegedly defamatory information in any case where the defendant in a civil action for defamation asserts a defense based on the source of such information.
(c)(1) Any person seeking information or the source thereof protected under this section may apply for an order divesting such protection. Such application shall be made to the judge of the court having jurisdiction over the hearing, action or other proceeding in which the information sought is pending.
(2) The application shall be granted only if the court after hearing the parties determines that the person seeking the information has shown by clear and convincing evidence that:
(A) There is probable cause to believe that the person from whom the information is sought has information which is clearly relevant to a specific probable violation of law;
(B) The person has demonstrated that the information sought cannot reasonably be obtained by alternative means; and
(C) The person has demonstrated a compelling and overriding public interest of the people of the state of Tennessee in the information.
(3(A) Any order of the trial court may be appealed to the court of appeals in the same manner as other civil cases. The court of appeals shall make an independent determination of the applicability of the standards in this subsection to the facts in the record and shall not accord a presumption of correctness to the trial court's findings.
(B) The execution of or any proceeding to enforce a judgment divesting the protection of this section shall be stayed pending appeal upon the timely filing of a notice of appeal in accordance with Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the appeal shall be expedited upon the docket of the court of appeals upon the application of either party.
(C) Any order of the court of appeals may be appealed to the supreme court of Tennessee as provided by law. [Acts 1973, ch. 27, ßß 1-3; T.C.A, ß 24-113 - 24-115; Acts 1988, ch. 803, ßß 1, 2.]
Editorís Note: The Shield protection granted by T.C.A. ß24-1-208 applies even in a civil case where information has been previously published and the information or source of information was not obtained as a result of a confidential relationship. Austin v. Memphis Publishing Co., 655 S.W.2d 146 (Tenn. 1983).

R. Neal's picture

Financial account holders

Financial account holders have a legal right and expectation of privacy for their documents/accounts/transations, etc.

The legal title of the account is "Elect Burchett" on the checks published in the paper, and also the name of the campaign committee on file with the Election Commission.

R. Neal's picture

He said/she said

He said/she said notwithstanding, knowing the source of the documents would suggest a motive for this information suddenly being revealed to the KNS just before the records retention statute of limitations runs out. Go back and read the lede, it might be instructive.

R. Neal's picture

I curious how the KNS

I curious how the KNS determined that checks written on the Elect Burchett account were "not revealed in campaign disclosure documents" as noted in the caption accompanying the copies of the checks.

The opening paragraph says "Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's wife wrote six checks to herself totaling $15,053.56 from his mayoral election fund that were not included on the campaign finance disclosure statements as required by law."

As far as I know, there is no legal requirement for campaigns to report every check written on their campaign finance disclosures. The law requires them to disclose expenditures. It also requires them to keep records (checks, bank statements, invoices, receipts, etc.) to back up the reported expenditures.

Just like a normal business. You record the purchases as expenses. You don't record a reimbursement to an employee who charged something business related on their personal credit card as an expense. You record the purchase as an expense, and the reimbursement as an offsetting entry against cash. You might also record one reimbursement (check) that offsets several expense items.

Unless the KNS has every check and every bank statement and added them all up and compared them to the total reported expenditures to find a discrepancy matching the total of the checks in question they can't say for sure the expenditures weren't reported. Maybe they did. They don't say.

Maybe they are saying that no line item amounts on the disclosures match up to the check amounts (which seems to be the case from looking at the disclosure reports). Did they check for every possible combination of expenditures that could have added up to the check amounts? Not likely. Did they ask Allison Burchett if she used a personal credit card for campaign expenses and was subsequently reimbursed? They don't say.

The cases where they did match up a check to an expenditure item and the check amounts were inflated is a bit more troublesome for somebody.

The "mystery" check as reimbursement for campaign advertising from "Singulaiis" ("Singularis"?) is also puzzling. It's difficult to imagine anyone being stupid enough to think they could get away with faking that. There's probably some other explanation for the company not remembering Tim (or Allison) Burchett from two years ago. It's also possible that "Elect Burchett" will be able to come up with a receipt or an invoice for it, depending on who has custody of the records which appears to be in dispute. (And was the check cashed or deposited? Was it deposited to a joint account? Wonder what's on the back of it?)

There are more questions than answers at this point.

metulj's picture

Randy's right. Let's see the

Randy's right. Let's see the river card.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

As far as I know, there is no legal requirement for campaigns to report every check written on their campaign finance disclosures. The law requires them to disclose expenditures. It also requires them to keep records (checks, bank statements, invoices, receipts, etc.) to back up the reported expenditures.

Just like a normal business. You record the purchases as expenses. You don't record a reimbursement to an employee who charged something business related on their personal credit card as an expense. You record the purchase as an expense, and the reimbursement as an offsetting entry against cash. You might also record one reimbursement (check) that offsets several expense items.

The process you describe here is the two-step "accrual basis" for first recording as payable, then actually paying, a given invoice relating to something the business has purchased.

The "accrual basis" is employed by most businesses, as an assumption exists that most businesses will operate into perpetuity and some volume of unpaid invoices which must be tracked will always exist.

The campaign may have employed the two-step "accrual basis" in paying its bills, or since it was a concern of limited duration (as in "no need existed into perpetuity to track any volume of this sort of business' unpaid bills"), it may have simply employed a one-step "cash basis" in paying its bills, I don't know.

In either scenario, though, the party paying those bills requires an invoice to verify and properly record the nature of every expenditure.

When a given invoice is missing, though, and the party paying the business's bills must nevertheless issue a payment to somebody for something, the common practice is to charge the expenditure to a so-called "suspense" account, the balances reflected therein to be subsequently researched, documented in this case by vendor invoices, and transferred to their correct expense accounts at some later date.

It may be, then, that the party to have approached KNS was aware of a volume of transactions parked in such a "suspense" account on the campaign's books, those transactions being the checks issued to Allison Burchett and Dean Rice in the absence of the campaign having received supporting invoices for the payments? And the campaign still hasn't received that supporting documentation?

If so, that would not necessarily be a situation indicative of fraud on the part of either Allison Burchett or Dean Rice, but it would be a situation indicative of the mayor, as campaign treasurer, having been remiss in his responsiblity to ensure that all transactions languishing in the campaign's "suspense" account had been properly recorded by campaign's end?

I wasn't quite clear what sort of evidence this anonymous source supplied KNS, either, but this is the assumption I made as to how the tipster knew of a recordkeeping problem after the campaign's end--and, until I know more, I don't yet make the big to-do about it some KNS posters seem to be making.

JCB's picture

"If so, that would not

"If so, that would not necessarily be a situation indicative of fraud on the part of either Allison Burchett or Dean Rice, but it would be a situation indicative of the mayor, as campaign treasurer, having been remiss in his responsiblity to ensure that all transactions languishing in the campaign's "suspense" account had been properly recorded by campaign's end?"

The Mayor cannot be the campaign treasurer. You are aware of that, right?

Barker's picture

treasurer

JCB, state law specifically allows a candidate to act as his or her own campaign treasurer -- TCA 2-10-105 (e) (1). Burchett did not do so, but he could have. The campaign finance law is clear that no matter who is named treasurer and no matter who actually performs the duties of a treasurer, the candidate is responsible for his or her campaign finances and the accurate reporting of contributions and expenditures.

Anonymous7's picture

Candidate as treasure

Not so. A candidate can declare himself treasurer. Typically not smart, but can.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

In its hard copy (page 4B), KNS is running a large copy of Burchett's Campaign Financial Disclosure Statement dated July 15, 2009, on which he has signed his name a Political Treasurer--and the form clearly states parenthetically after the phrase Political Treaseurer "(may be candidate)."

This is why I had understood Burchett acted as his own treasurer throughout the campaign.

However, I do see at the Election Commission's site that on September 16, 2009, Burchett subsequently named Albert M. Miller Jr. as treasurer.

Mea culpa.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

The campaign finance law is clear that no matter who is named treasurer and no matter who actually performs the duties of a treasurer, the candidate is responsible for his or her campaign finances and the accurate reporting of contributions and expenditures.

Yes, Scott.

As I said over at the KNS site, I agree that these circumstances warrant further scrutiny.

I also recognize that whether the conclusion should be that Tim Burchett was inattentive or Tim/Allison/Dean acted fraudulently, further scrutiny just doesn't bode well for Burchett.

I was just a bit frustrated over there that so many posters' first thought was that fraud had been committed, 'cause that just isn't at all clear now.

JCB's picture

"I was just a bit frustrated

"I was just a bit frustrated over there that so many posters' first thought was that fraud had been committed, 'cause that just isn't at all clear now."

Would people think that way if the checks had been deposited instead of cashed? There is a good reason to be suspicious. 8 'unrecorded' 'undocumented' cashed checks according to the newspaper. That has fraud written all over it.

R. Neal's picture

"according to the

"according to the newspaper."

It's got something written all over it.

P.S. Not sure you should be throwing around accusations of fraud and whatnot until all the facts are in.

JCB's picture

The implication to me of

The implication to me of 'unrecorded' and 'undocumented' meant those checks were not recorded in the check register. Not that they were not disclosed or reported in the campaign finance reports. That newspaper story was written in a very specific way that to me indicates deliberate wrong doing. I don't see how that is jumping to conclusions. Add to that the anonymous source of the story.

If it were one check. Not a big thing. If the checks were deposited. Not as big a thing. The way it was reported it sounds like the worst of the fee offices. The accusations were made in the newspaper story.

R. Neal's picture

Tamara, the accounting is (or

Tamara, the accounting is (or can be) the same whether on a cash or accrual basis. But good point about a possible suspense account.

Curious why the KNS didn't have a comment from the treasurer.

I noticed that one of the "unreported" checks has a reference to an invoice nbr. Wonder where that invoice is or if anyone asked?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Curious why the KNS didn't have a comment from the treasurer.

I thought that at first, too, but when I noted (on page 4B of the hard copy) that copy of Burchett's July 15, 2009 Campaign Financial Disclosure on which he is named as his own treasurer, I just thought "oh, KNS did seek comment from the treasurer and Burchett is quoted in the story."

Now that I've seen on the Election Commission's site that he acted as his own treasurer for only two months, though, I've come full circle: Yeah, why didn't KNS seek comment from Mr. Miller?

Had they even tried, wouldn't they have told us so?

MikeDonila's picture

What part of: "Miller did not

What part of:
"Miller did not return a call seeking comment"
Do you not understand?
Seriously, fourth paragraph from the end of the story.

On a side note, every penny spent from that account has to be accounted for on the campaign finance forms.

R. Neal's picture

On a side note, every penny

On a side note, every penny spent from that account has to be accounted for on the campaign finance forms.

Indeed. So maybe I missed something, but where in your article does it offer evidence that every penny spent wasn't accounted for?

It just says some checks weren't reported or recorded or something. (Which one reader has apparently interpreted to mean they weren't recorded on the check register so it's obviously evidence of fraud. Lots of ways to interpret it I guess.)

The article also suggests the campaign is required by law to report all the checks written, which is not the case. They are required to report expenses, not the method of payment. They are required to keep records to back up their expense reports, including invoices, checks, etc.

It's not clear exactly what the article is alleging against whom. The check amounts didn't match up to any amounts on the campaign finance disclosures? Or did y'all get all the canceled checks and bank statements and add it all up and compare it to the campaign finance disclosures and found a discrepancy? Didn't get that from the report, but perhaps that's what you meant? And why can't we see the backs of the checks?

At any rate, who's your source? Heh.

MikeDonila's picture

"Indeed. So maybe I missed

"Indeed. So maybe I missed something, but where in your article does it offer evidence that every penny spent wasn't accounted for?"

The checks/payments needed to be recorded on the campaign finance forms. They weren't. That's what I meant when I said every penny needed to be accounted for.

"The check amounts didn't match up to any amounts on the campaign finance disclosures? Or did y'all get all the canceled checks and bank statements and add it all up and compare it to the campaign finance disclosures and found a discrepancy? Didn't get that from the report, but perhaps that's what you meant?"

Yes, the expenses were cross referenced with the campaign report. A lot of stuff didn't match up.

"And why can't we see the backs of the checks?"

I don't know. I guess it was a graphics decision. I wasn't involved in that part.

"At any rate, who's your source? Heh."

Heh.

Pam Strickland's picture

It was clear to me, Donila.

It was clear to me, Donila. Good story.

mld's picture

It was a heck of a lot more

It was a heck of a lot more accurate than your recent article! The article did report facts, which were all but absent in your opinion article last week. Your article did a very poor job of explaining the real issues in the new teacher evaluations. I did not think anybody could write as much BS as the guy you shared the page with when that article was in the KNS last week. I hope he is not having a bad influence on you. You usually do a better job backing up your opinion with facts.

Pam Strickland's picture

If you felt that way, why

If you felt that way, why didn't you bring it up at the time in direct discussion w/ me or in a more on topic thread? Bringing it up on this tread at this time--a good two weeks later is somewhat out of place.

reform4's picture

Checks/Parments = Two different animals

"The checks/payments needed to be recorded on the campaign finance forms. They weren't. That's what I meant when I said every penny needed to be accounted for."

Checks and payments are two different things. Hypothetical example:

Donation from Bob +100
Donation from Jill +50
Burns Printing -75
Mileage to Sharps Ridge for "campaigning" -10
Hornback Consulting -60
(net in account $5)

That's what I have to report. If I do it all in cash, mix it in with my personal checking, open a campaign account and pre-fund it myself initially, and then take my pre funding back out... None of that means squat with regards to reporting. Kind of like the IRS- the tax forms don't require me to submit my bank statements, just income and expenses. And when it comes to proving those, I need receipts and invoices (bank statements mean nothing to the IRS to prove expenses).

I see lots of smoke, but no fire yet, other than the burning fury of a woman who is really pissed off for some reason, and doesn't seem to want to move on with her life. I feel bad for Tim in this opera.

R. Neal's picture

The checks/payments needed to

The checks/payments needed to be recorded on the campaign finance forms.

Really? Can you show me in state election finance law where it says that? I could only find where expenses had to be reported.

Yes, the expenses were cross referenced with the campaign report.

The only public record expense reports are the campaign finance reports. You cross-referenced the campaign finance reports with the campaign finance reports? Huh?

Heh. Indeed.

kag's picture

Anonymous sources need to be

Anonymous sources need to be used very thoughtfully and judiciously. Anytime someone proactively offers a media outlet info that may damage the reputation of someone else, but says he/she will only turn it over if his/her anonymity will be protected, the reporters involved need to ask some very hard questions about what that person's personal, financial or other motives may be before agreeing to such a deal. If - hypothetically speaking - the anonymous source for such info were also someone interviewed by name in the story as a party to the issue, I think that poses even more problems.

I honestly have no information regarding who the source is, but there is something fishy here about how this info came to the newspaper and in the way it's been presented, and I don't like it.

-Katie

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

What part of:
"Miller did not return a call seeking comment"
Do you not understand?
Seriously, fourth paragraph from the end of the story.

Oops--my bad for not having caught that, Mike. Sorry.

Meanwhile, you don't seem to be suggesting that these "featured" checks weren't recorded to the check register, only that the specific expenses represented by the payments weren't detailed on the Campaign Finance Disclosures, correct?

If so, this is sounding more and more like a situation in which Allison and/or Dean received their reimbursements--which checks were recorded in the check register--but failed to ever forward the supporting invoices for their out-of-pocket costs to the treasurer after-the-fact, right?

Which would, indeed, leave the treasurer without a clue as to how to code those particular checks (as to the specific expense represented by each of them, I mean) and which would, indeed, cause him to have to code them to some kind of "suspense" account until such time as he had the invoices in hand, I suppose?

I understand that there are other curiosities in the campaign records--like some checks written for less that the face amount of the invoices to which they appear to correspond--but discreps of that nature seem to support Allison Burchett's allegation that she had paid some amounts due to vendors out of her own pocket, and therefore some amounts were due to her, not to the vendors?

Again, I don't necessarily mean to defend the Burchett campaign's recordkeeping. It's clear that it was messy, at best.

I just truly got no indication from details in the article that at this point fraud is definitively known to have occurred.

Do you now characterize this situation as one indicative of indisputable fraud, or of just missing invoices and possible fraud (dependent on whether they turn up)?

I thought the latter?

JCB's picture

"Meanwhile, you don't seem to

"Meanwhile, you don't seem to be suggesting that these "featured" checks weren't recorded to the check register, only that the specific expenses represented by the payments weren't detailed on the Campaign Finance Disclosures, correct?"

Above is how you ask a question when you don't want an answer.

This is how you ask a question when you do want an answer; "Mr. Donila, when you used the words 'unrecorded' and 'undocumented', were you referring to the check register or the campaign finance form. Or both?

See how concise that is?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Yes, JCB, you do ask my exact question more concisely than I did. Thanks.

The very first sentence in Mike's story was pretty concise, too, I thought. It said:

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's wife wrote six checks to herself totaling $15,053.56 from his mayoral election fund that were not included on the campaign finance disclosure statements as required by law.

I don't see in that lede or anywhere else in Mike's story that the six checks were not included in the campaign's check register.

Possibly both of us had some difficulty with our reading comprehension yesterday? Be nice, then.

All I've suggested thus far on this subject is that it's clear the recodkeeping was at least messy, it's possible--but not definite--that someone could have been dishonest with the funds, and an inquiry appears to be in order.

Is that not a reasonable and fair-minded assertion as to what we now know?

R. Neal's picture

And if there is to be an

And if there is to be an official inquiry, it needs to begin soon and the records will need to be subpoenaed right away because the records retention statute of limitations runs out in a few weeks. Once an investigation is underway, the records can't be destroyed until it's over.

Average Guy's picture

"the two did not discuss a timeframe"

fischbobber's picture

The Word

The word is that this is a hack job being generated by fellow republicans who are taking advantage of Tim's personal situation in order to try to drag him down.

There is also general agreement that Tim's smart move would be to get in front of this, get a federal independent investigator (as there is some question of whether or not the local and state level are corrupt) let the chips fall, and the public decide. Black Wednesday (or whatever that bloodbath at the city/county building is now called) has gone on long enough.

I've not been overly pleased with the way Tim's administration is functioning but the more I hear, the more chickenshit this episode appears to be.

My guess would be that Gloria Johnson is hearing some of the same things and her stepping back has more to do with the old adage "If you're going to roll around with pigs, you can expect to get shit all over you." that it does her having a passionate opinion on the situation.

alan swartz's picture

"The word is that this is a

"The word is that this is a hack job being generated by fellow republicans who are taking advantage of Tim's personal situation in order to try to drag him down."

Righht, Jack McElroy is now a Republican. Not yet. Or, are you saying it was a hit from Big Jim over the school budget whipping? That does add up nicely. And there is a hot line from Big Jim's place to McElroy's office.

But so what? Burchett pays $88,000 in election fines from his campaign war chest. People get pissed off at Big Jim and give Burchett more money. All that really happened is that no one will ever trust Allison again with a checkbook. I don't see what the big deal is.

fischbobber's picture

Sounds like

You're making some rather broad assumptions about the source of the information to me.

alan swartz's picture

What other Republican has a

What other Republican has a hotline to McElroy? McElroy made the decision to do that hit piece and the three squeaky follow ups. Not Donila. You don't think this was about the school budget loss?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Nope.

Nope.

fischbobber's picture

Schools?

Politics is dirty business. Schools and budget and divorces merely played into the timing of this. Allison may or may not be pissed, at this point I'm not sure how much of her alleged vitriol is actually legitimately hers, but I sure don't think she's stupid enough to essentially admit to fraud and embezzlement just to get Tim.

So if not her, who?

Donilla and McElroy sell papers. That's their job. Beyond verifying the authenticity of the checks why wouldn't they run the piece regardless of source.

Alan, what you should do is start paying attention in class and going through some archives and look at what was happening around the time the checks were written. Ask yourself the obvious questions and go start asking others who might have access to that info what they know.

alan swartz's picture

"Donilla and McElroy sell

"Donilla and McElroy sell papers. That's their job. Beyond verifying the authenticity of the checks why wouldn't they run the piece regardless of source."

Because of the source and the source's motivation? It was pretty chicken feather of McElroy to do that after crowing for years about Sunshine.

The three breathless Sentinel follow ups, were they to sell papers too? People can say all day Burchett as the candidate had the responsibility. But this got by the campaign manager and treasurer too.

No white wine or expensive lobsters were involved. Pretty boring by Knox County standards. It made McElroy look small for trying to guild it so much. People that like Burchett didn't change their minds and people on the fence probably thought it was cheap and petty. They might give him a chance now. Even the Dem's thought better than to get involved.

Nothing new was learned. Who cares?

fischbobber's picture

Chickenshit

As I said earlier. It doesn't have a whole lot to do with one's political beliefs. The whole thing is beginning to look chickenshit from a basic, moral, human level.

Get a federal independent investigator. Local and state are too corrupt.

Barker's picture

lobsters

We don't know if wine and lobsters were involved or not. But $15,000 can buy a lot of chardonnay and shellfish.

R. Neal's picture

So is that an indication of

So is that an indication of who the real target was? Blowback's a bitch.

Barker's picture

target

I don't see "target" as an appropriate term. Documents show there are discrepancies. So far, there's been no explanation for those discrepancies.

R. Neal's picture

I'm pretty sure we would know

I'm pretty sure we would know the target if we knew the source of the manufactured controversy. So far, nobody with subpoena powers has stepped up, so nothing to see here, move along now.

Barker's picture

manufactured?

It's not a manufactured controversy. There are discrepancies in what was reported and what was spent. Those are facts. There appear to be violations of campaign finance reporting laws (it is illegal to report "reimbursements;" you have to report the final vendors). Whether it rises to the level of criminal illegality is a different matter. But to say it is manufactured is wrong.

R. Neal's picture

Oh, maybe I missed something.

Oh, maybe I missed something. I thought the term "reimbursement" appeared on the checks, not the disclosure reports. The KNS doesn't appear to know the difference between an expense and the method of payment.

Barker's picture

reimbursement

The term "reimbursement" appears on the reports. You can find them at the Election Commission website.

R. Neal's picture

Oh, yes. I see one where AB

Oh, yes. I see one where AB reimbursed herself, and listed the detailed items adding up to the reimbursement. You've never turned in an expense report? Did they write you a check for each line item?

Presumably she had receipts? Do y'all have the receipts? And bank statements? And all the cancelled checks? Where did you get them? Did you subpoena them? How?

Anyway, you are highlighting how ridiculous and thin the "report" is, and all my previous questions that have gone unanswered.

Like I said, move along. There will soon be nothing to see here. Unless y'all are trying to throw AB under the bus.

P.S. Can you show us in state law where it says "it is illegal to report 'reimbursements'"?

Barker's picture

TCA 2-10-107

(B) A statement setting forth, under expenditures, a list of all expenditures made, including the full name and address of each person to whom a total amount of more than one hundred dollars ($100) was paid during the period for which the statement is submitted, the total amount paid to that person, and the purpose of the payment which shall clearly identify that it is an allowable expenditure under § 2-10-114. The words "reimbursement", "credit card purchase", "other" and "campaign expense" shall not be considered acceptable descriptions for "purpose". Any purchase made with a credit card shall also be disclosed as a payment to the vendor providing the item or service. Credit card payments to separate vendors shall be disclosed as separate expenditures. The statement shall list the total amount of expenditures of one hundred dollars ($100) or less each, by category, without showing the exact amount of or vouching for each such expenditure.

alan swartz's picture

"The words "reimbursement",

"The words "reimbursement", "credit card purchase", "other" and "campaign expense" shall not be considered acceptable descriptions for "purpose"."

Are you accusing Allison of something? If so, what?

Barker's picture

No

The law also makes it clear that the candidate is responsible for the report, regardless of who else might be involved.

alan swartz's picture

"The law also makes it clear

"The law also makes it clear that the candidate is responsible for the report, regardless of who else might be involved."

Little credibility from the word spinning. The 'law' as you say states the candidate will pay the fine for any mistakes made by the person who filled out the campaign finance forms. But that doesn't mean that Tim Burchett was the person who made the mistakes. A mistake is quite different than wrongdoing.

Your hit piece editorial today shows you and your paper cannot be trusted on this issue. You keep twisting words to try to hurt Burchett for some reason. You keep leaving out that neither the campaign manager or treasurer caught those election form mistakes. And your reporter Donila won't answer the question of whether the checks made out to Allison Burchett were recorded in the check register. Which if they weren't recorded would in the minds of most people completely clear Burchett of wrongdoing.

I think in the end this particular vendetta will hurt your paper whose than the intended victim Tim Burchett. It may already have.

(link...)

Barker's picture

further down in the same statute

(f) Payments to a person as reimbursement for expenditures made by the person on behalf of the candidate or committee shall be disclosed as payments to the vendor who provided the item or service to the candidate or committee, not the person who is reimbursed.

Rachel's picture

That's interesting. I've

That's interesting. I've never been a campaign treasurer (for good reason!), but I've seen expenditure statements where people might pay for something and the campaign expenditure would get recorded something like "reimbursement to Rachel, for refreshments."

That is, clearly specifing what the expenditure was FOR, but not necessarily who the vendor was that provided the item/service (and of course the campaign would have the original receipts, and the amount on the check would match the amount reported on the expenditure statement).

I think a lot of folks may get this wrong.

R. Neal's picture

Is this the crime

@barker, Is this the crime you are accusing Allison Burchett of?

Barker's picture

wrong

I am not accusing Allison Burchett of anything. Don't put words in my mouth. You're better than that, Randy. It's not a "crime" to violate the campaign finance reporting law. It is a civil violation. And the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance is the entity to determine whether any violations occurred.

I don't have time to go back through all of them, but the Jan. 31, 2012 report lists two payments to "Allison or Tim Burchett" for "mailing & printing" and for "office Christmas." Those payments total more than $1,000 and neither lists the ultimate vendor. There is also an entry for Leighann Lyttle for "reimbursement" of $100.

There are other irregularities Donila reported, too, like the entries that show higher amounts than the checks actually written to the vendors. And the more than $15,000 in checks written without any corresponding expense listed in the disclosures. I'm not saying anyone committed a crime. But it deserves scrutiny.

Average Guy's picture

If the statute of limitations runs out,

why would he need to get out in front of anything? Johnson should have requested an official inquiry in the hopes of a subpeona of the records. This process would take more than a few weeks, so if in the interim Burchett can "get to the bottom" of this, all is well.

If in a few weeks Johnson goes looking for an answer and receives; "the records no longer exist", then all is definitely well for Burchett.

fischbobber's picture

Statute

I don't think the statute is over for fraud and embezzlement.

In other words, yes some of this would go away in a few weeks, but now that these issues have been raised, you also have the criminal and cover-up issues to contend with.

As I said, Tim's smart move is to get ahead of this by getting an independent investigator in here and letting the chips fall.

It will all make perfect sense once the sources of information become clear, which won't take long, and at that point the pieces of the puzzle will fit together nicely.

P.S. I would submit that the statute of limitations on this was a factor in the timing of the release of this information, which apparently has been held for quite some time.

Shannon S's picture

most surprising part

The most surprising part of the story is that Allison knows how to write a check.

metulj's picture

Did you have to take an

Did you have to take an Ibuprofen after thinking up that witty post?

Shannon S's picture

*

No.....does taking so much Viagra make you such a dick?

metulj's picture

Head back over to

Head back over to knoxdrools.com. You are out of your depth.

Shannon S's picture

Why don’t you pick on a girl your own age?

Bullies are so 90’s.

You need an extreme personality makeover.

metulj's picture

Yet weak attempts at one-line

Yet weak attempts at one-line drive-by posts by a known troll are ageless. Head back over to the KNS comments sections, they need help on whatever comment troll article about a dead white woman that McElroy et al. pulled off the wire today.

Shannon S's picture

But thanks for the invitation

I will always be here for you metulj, to help you with your superiority complex.

metulj's picture

Comma splice.

Comma splice.

Rachel's picture

Both of you shut up or go

Both of you shut up or go away.

I come here to read substance, not to hear 2 people bicker like 5 year olds.

metulj's picture

Oh, come on. Someone has to

Oh, come on. Someone has to waste her time.

And if anybody thinks that a nasty divorce proceeding that has the soon-to-be ex-wife of a career politician foisting accusations and what not is at all a real issue beyond "Tim Burchett isn't squeaky clean" then swing by my house. I just whittled a new clue-by-four.

Rachel's picture

It's an issue. You and

It's an issue. You and Shannon taking potshots at each other isn't. Cut it out; I'd like to keep reading this thread.

metulj's picture

Oh, OK. I still think this

Oh, OK.

I still think this is, as Randy asserts, a whole lotta nothing until it is something. KNS seems to be bored or lazy or both.

Shannon S's picture

My original post was on the subject

I did not intend to mess up your reading enjoyment. My original post was on the subject. One feels the need to protect oneself when metulj starts with an unprovoked attack insinuating the poster has no intelligence or relevance. I understand his inviting posters to leave is just what he does with his artificially inflated ego and narcissistic personality. Most of us do not have the luxury of a spouse who supports the family while their partner goes to school until they are in there 40’s. For some people continuing education is easier than actually producing a living for ones family.

It reminds me of a conversation I heard the other day where someone said about a braggart telling how intelligent he was, that “if they are so damn smart, why have they still in school in there 40’s while someone else supports them?”

My point on the subject is that I was surprised that Allison writes checks, as she appears to be the credit card type. How was she able to figure out how to write checks to herself that passed the scrutiny of the candidate and the treasurer? To say she was reimbursing herself would insinuate she had disposable cash to put up in the first place.

Also by her stating that this was a marriage of convenience, it would indicate she was complicit.

metulj's picture

All that and your point is

All that and your point is still stupid. Keep trying.

bizgrrl's picture

Shannon S

Aaarrrgghhh!

alan swartz's picture

At the fair there is a sign

At the fair there is a sign that says "You have to be this tall to ride this ride". Just sayin.

Rachel's picture

I have no idea what has gone

I have no idea what has gone on here. At the best, it's pretty sloppy bookkeeping. But that may be all it is.

I do think at this point that it should be cleared up, and I expect the Mayor is working on that.

fischbobber's picture

That Depends

On what you mean by cleared up.

What it will actually boil down to is "Where did the cancelled records come from?" "Did the person that leaked them have legal access to them?"

It has clearly been set up to appear that there is the divorce/school tax payback thing going on, but that not only does not make much sense, the folks that are braggin and bitchin ain't going there.

This one could be ugly........for years.

Pam Strickland's picture

It doesn't matter where they

It doesn't matter where they came from. The problems were documented through other means.

fischbobber's picture

It does matter

In America Pam, one has the right to be secure in one's home, person and papers. In the event these documents were procured outside of legal means, Tim's civil rights have been violated.

As a progressive who tends to lean Democrat, I take civil rights seriously, even Tim's, a Republican. Not only is it the right position, but there's that karma thing.

Bbeanster's picture

It doesn't matter where they

It doesn't matter where they came from. The problems were documented through other means

That's an argument I've used with editors in the past, but have been severely smacked down.
"Fruit of the Poison Tree" is an evidenciary rule that doesn't legally bind the press, but I've found (usually to my chagrin) that my editors have taken it quite seriously.

I think their major concern is that they didn't want to be played by someone with ulterior motives. Boiled it down to its simplest form, Consider the Source.

Pam Strickland's picture

I don't know where they came

I don't know where they came from. I know what I read in the paper just like everybody else. And unlike most of you, I haven't had time to sit around and dissect it to the extreme this week. I do still believe that do long as it was documented that it was fine. Mire later when I get to the Internet and am not typing with my index finger on the phone.

fischbobber's picture

It would appear

That the records originated from someone within Tim's immediate family in an act of treachery designed to make the personal affair of his divorce quite the public matter.

Todays assignment, compare and contrast these two words, gossip and journalism.

Barker's picture

assignment

Actually, the assignment ought to be to compare and contrast official documentation to a message board post.

R. Neal's picture

Maybe another assignment is

Maybe another assignment is to look at the propriety of the manner in which the KNS obtained online image copies of the checks and bank statements. It had to be somebody with access to the account through online banking. That would have to be somebody connected to the campaign who is authorized to access the account and knows the security/login credentials. That's a small group, I would imagine. And how many are still authorized now that they have "moved on?" Wouldn't someone like the treasurer have changed the password?

Barker's picture

someone

Someone gave them to us. We confirmed the authenticity of them and no one has disputed it.

The absence of any action on the part of the treasurer, apart from signing off on the disclosures, is one of the mysteries here. I believe I've said this before, but I don't understand the point of having a treasurer who doesn't manage the treasury.

alan swartz's picture

unmire this

"Wouldn't someone like the treasurer have changed the password?"

Look carefully at the bank image. You can't read the date. It is marked out. The last transaction is early 2011. Why is the date of the bank image marked out? And why would McElroy call this a check register?

News Sentinel, come clean and tell us the date of the bank image. Or does that violate your anonymity agreement?

alan swartz's picture

"Mire later when I get to the

"Mire later when I get to the Internet and am not typing with my index finger on the phone."

Your Freudian auto-correct sums this up perfectly. Mire later. Much more mire.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

In Jack's editorial today, "Assuring government's not for sale," he says:

The (image search generated by First Tennessee Bank and detailing the check number/check amount of every check issued against the campaign account, which Jack calls a "register") did not list to whom the checks were written, although copies of several checks, including many that were written by Allison Burchett to herself, also were provided.

We compared the register to Burchett's disclosures, and in some cases, check amounts matched expenditures perfectly.

But several of the checks to Allison Burchett did not appear on the disclosure statement, while the statement listed many expenditures without any corresponding checks.

However, as Scott shared with us above, the apparent guiding statute, TCA 2-10-107 says at item (f):

Payments to a person as reimbursement for expenditures made by the person on behalf of the candidate or committee shall be disclosed as payments to the vendor who provided the item or service to the candidate or committee, not the person who is reimbursed.

So I'm not quite understanding why Jack continues to expect to see Allison Burchett's (or Dean Rice's) name reflected on the campaign disclosure statement as a payee?

Unless Jack hasn't yet looked up the apparent guiding statute (and Scott hasn't volunteered it)???

Barker's picture

reconciliation

One of the difficulties in writing about this is that the state requires the disclosure of the recipients of funds - vendors, in the vernacular - while there was no disclosure of a vendor. Absent the reporting of a vendor, all we had to go on were the checks.

I think the best way to describe the discrepancy is that there are more than $15,000 worth of checks from the campaign written to Allison Burchett that have no corresponding explanation in campaign finance reports. Basically, that means there is more than $15,000 is unaccounted for.

Plus, you can't forget that the reports overstate the amount of some checks. And that one check was written to a company that said it did no work for the campaign.

Barker's picture

it's late

and I screwed up a couple of sentences. First, I used "is" twice in the second paragraph above. Ignore the second one. Second, and worse, I said a check was written to a company that said it didn't do any work for the company. If memory serves, the check was written to Allison Burchett for reimbursement, apparently for personal funds spent on the company's services (which, as the company told Donila, they did not provide). Sorry.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

But Jack said today that "the (campaign finance disclosure) statement listed many expenditures without any corresponding checks."

Couldn't those "many expenditures" on the disclosure be represented in the check register/First Tennessee "image search" by the checks written to Allison? If not, why not?

The statute you said guides--and it does appear to--explains that the rule is to reflect on the disclosure not the name of the party reimbursed but the name of the vendor to which a given reimbursement check to a campaign volunteer relates.

This being the case, I truly don't see why Jack (and you?) continue to look for Allison's name on the disclosure when her name is not supposed to be reflected there???

What we have here seems to be a failure to communicate...

(Yawn. Off to bed. Will check in tomorrow.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Caught your correction before retiring and that's OK. I understood the instance you referred to.

(Yawn, again. Tommorrow.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Plus, you can't forget that the reports overstate the amount of some checks.

One last try here, Scott: My understanding is that a campaign finance disclosure report cannot be used as a device to determine what the amounts are of specific checks.

The disclosure report doesn't cite checks, it cites aggregate expenses relating to a given vendor.

This is true irrespective of the method of tender used to pay that vendor, irrespective of whether multiple methods of tender were used to pay that vendor, and irrespective of whether both the campaign proper and some campaign volunteer combined to pay that vendor.

Again, the campaign finance disclosure report summarizes a given type of expense by name of vendor. Allison Burchett's name should not, therefore, appear on the disclosure report even if she did appear as the payee on a check or checks.

At least that's what I see in that statute you linked for us...

And that one check was written to a company that said it did no work for the campaign.

This is a different issue, of course, and I have no idea what the problem is here.

(Virtually staggering off to bed, now. 'Night.)

Barker's picture

use of forms

The campaign finance disclosure forms can be used to determine how checks were disbursed if you also have the campaign's bank statements and copies of the checks. And that's what we have. And the Burchett campaign listed reimbursement checks, not vendors (as is required by the state campaign finance statutes), so it was pretty easy to track.

You can take the checks written from the account and compare them to the campaign finance disclosures. That's exactly what we did. Basically, in the easiest way to explain it, more than $15,000 in checks written on the campaign's account have no corresponding expenses listed on the disclosure forms. Those checks might have gone toward legitimate campaign expenses, but there is no evidence that has been presented that they were. We haven't seen the receipts and they weren't reported on the forms. For now, they are undocumented campaign expenses.

This doesn't even address the checks written to organizations for amounts lower than reported on the disclosure reports. That leaves more money unaccounted for. And there's the Kansas firm that says it didn't do any work for the Burchett campaign.

The key here is that KNS has the campaign disclosures (which obviously are public record), plus the campaign account statements and copies of checks written from the account (which were supplied by a source and have not been disputed by either the mayor or his wife). You can (and we did) cross-check the documents to arrive at the conclusion there are checks/expenses not accounted for in the disclosures. As I said, what we don't have are receipts for the unaccounted for checks. They might exist, but if they do they were not reported in the disclosures.

Average Guy's picture

Is there a settlement?

Was it ever established that there is a divorce settlement?

Irrespective, what happens if "I did as I was told to do" turns into "now I remember" or "I made an accounting error"?

The claim she was doing as instructed is the one that's most troublesome to me.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Scott:

The statute YOU cited explains that a campaign finance disclosure report cannot be used as a device to determine what the amounts are of specific checks the campaign has issued.

The statute YOU cited also explains that the disclosure report doesn't cite checks issued at all, it cites aggregate expenses relating to a given vendor.

Suppose the campaign made four purchases from Acme Signs totaling $3000.

Suppose the campaign wrote a check directly to Acme for one of those $1500 purchases, the campaign wrote a second check to Allicon Burchett to reimburse her for two $500 purchases she paid for out-of-pocket, and the campaign wrote a third check to me for one $500 purchase I paid for out-of-pocket.

The campaign's disclosure, if prepared according to direction in the statute YOU cited, would reflect Acme's name and an aggregate expense total for the reporting period of $3000.

However, reporters would be unable to find a single invoice from Acme for $3000 (because there would instead be four invoices totaling $3000).

Reporters would also be unable to find a single check to Acme for $3000 (because there would instead be three checks to three payees--Acme, Allison, and me--which together total $3000).

Surely that example was easy enough to follow, so let's rachet up the conversation to create a more convoluted example:

Let's change the above outlined example with regard to that very first expenditure for which I said the campaign "wrote a check directly to Acme for one of those $1500 purchases."

Let's instead assume that the campaign has not yet written any check to Acme for the $1500 purchase, but, at the end of the campaign's reporting period, the campaign does have Acme's unpaid invoice in hand.

How the campaign's financial disclosure should read per this second example (for an unpaid $1500 invoice) would not differ one iota from how the campaign's financial disclosure would read per the first example (for a paid $1500 invoice).

This is because the campaign's financial disclosure is not a record of its checks issued, it is a record of its expenses incurred--even if those expenses relate to purchases made on credit and not yet paid for by anybody.

The campaign must recognize and disclose the $1500 expense at the time it receives the vendor's $1500 invoice, not at the time it actually pays the $1500 bill.

This is the very definition of accrual accounting, so you and Mike and Jack are quite mistaken to imagine that you can use this or any campaign's financial disclosure as a substitute for their "checkbook register."

It just doesn't work that way and you should have carried your questions to the Accounts Payable department at KNS before you embarrassed yourselves so publicly with your mistaken understanding that you are somehow viewing on the campaign disclosure a record of the checks the campaign issued.

(At the Election Commission's site, see pdf page 15 of their sample campaign finance disclosure and their instructions for completing same, here.)

Barker's picture

assumption

You're assuming the disclosures followed the requirements of the law.

As I said, we compared the checks, the bank statements and the financial disclosures. They do not line up.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

The campaign finance disclosure forms can be used to determine how checks were disbursed if you also have the campaign's bank statements and copies of the checks.

No, Scott, the campaign finance disclosure forms may not be used to determine how checks were disbursed.

The campaign finance disclosure forms are NOT records of checks issued, but records of expenses incurred by a given date.

To verify the accuracy of the campaign finance disclosure forms, KNS needs dated invoices--paid or unpaid--not cancelled checks.

It was the incidence of dated invoices on hand at the end of a given reporting period that the campaign was obligated to disclose, not the record of checks issued by that date.

KNS does not appear to have the dated invoices necessary to confirm or dispute the accuracy of the campaign finance disclosures, so KNS appears to be way out on a limb.

This is the single biggest point KNS is missing.

Walk down the hall and speak with your accounts payble clerk, for gosh sakes. Do it now.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I said previously:

This is because the campaign's financial disclosure is not a record of its checks issued, it is a record of its expenses incurred--even if those expenses relate to purchases made on credit and not yet paid for by anybody.

The campaign must recognize and disclose the $1500 expense at the time it receives the vendor's $1500 invoice, not at the time it actually pays the $1500 bill.

Yes, Scott, I do see your point that when expenses per the available cancelled checks/bank statements/ expenses detailed on the disclosure do not align, we should be able to discern some volume of unpaid "obligations" cited on the disclosure (per instruction I cited above at the EC's site as to how the treasurer is to complete the disclosure, pdf pages 15 and 16).

And yes, I have now reviewed every Burchett disclosure--original and amended--available at the EC's site, only to discover that none of them discloses any unpaid "obligations" outstanding at the end of any reporting period throughout the campaign.

So yes, if the discreps you're looking at relate to unpaid invoices the campaign was holding at the end of any given reporting period, it does appear that the campaign failed to properly disclose those unpaid invoices on its disclosures.

Was the campaign possibly keeping its books on an accrual basis, but completing its disclosures on a cash basis?

That would be an erroneous move on their part--and make a review of their disclosures difficult, too--but it still would not necessarily be indicative of any fraudulent transactions.

Well, my position on all this from the start has been that a review of the disclosures does seem in order, but that we should refrain from assuming the worst prior to the time it's completed, that's all.

Barker's picture

yes

Geez, Tamara, we haven't accused the mayor or Allison of fraudulent acts. How many time must I remind people here of that? We have pointed out discrepancies. That's all. There might be invoices or receipts to justify the $15K. If they exist and if they are disclosed, then we can all move on to other matters.

I think you're assuming a level of professional accounting that does not seem to have been applied to the campaign account. Hence the problem.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Pymts to Rice for contract labor?

Unrelated: In making that cursory review of every Burchett disclosure, the expenses that jumped off the page for me were the numerous large payments to Dean Rice for contract labor.

This may or may not be a recap of every such payment to Rice (as I scanned the disclosures quickly, looking really just for any volume of unpaid "obligations" disclosed), but here were some of them:

On the very last amended disclosure listed at the EC's site per their drop-down list, dated 6/22/12 and amending the disclosure dated 10/11/10 for the reporting period ending 9/30/10, I noted a $5000 pymt to Rice on pdf page 12 and a second $3000 pymt to him on pdf page 13, or $8000 total to him, all for "contract labor," for that reporting period.

Similarly, on the third-from-last disclosure listed at the EC's site per their drop-down list, also dated 6/22/12 and amending the disclosure dated 4/12/10 for the reporting period ending 3/31/10, I noted a $3000 pymt to Rice on pdf page 3, a second $3000 pymt to him on pdf page 6, and a third $3000 pymt to him on pdf page 10, or a $9000 total to him, all for "contract labor," in that reporting period.

That's $17000 total to him in just those two reporting periods--and I couldn't say for sure whether I possibly glossed over other such payments to him in my review of other disclosures for other periods.

Has KNS solicited back-up documentation from Burchett or Rice relating to these payments?

R. Neal's picture

Isn't it pretty routine for

Isn't it pretty routine for campaigns to hire staff and pay them as contract workers? Rice wasn't the only one. Don't remember the name, but there were regular payments to at least one other.

Barker's picture

no problem

Tim hired Dean to run his campaign and could pay him as much as he desired. Coulda been $100K for all I care. Nothing wrong or even suspicious about that.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I truly don't know whether it's routine or not, as I don't profess to have any personal experience in these administrative aspects of running a campaign.

I was just noting that the dollar amounts involved in the transactions were--if not the highest--at least among the highest for the Burchett campaign.

I was pointing out that the transactions are therefore "low-hanging fruit" KNS hasn't chosen to nab, I don't think?

So I was asking why they haven't explained the transactions to us?

Bbeanster's picture

Dean worked full-time for

Dean worked full-time for that campaign, and I'd say Burchett got a bargain, at that price. Do those payments seem out of line to you?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Oh, I have no frame of reference whatsoever, Betty.

Lacking any, if you and Randy suggest the amounts aren't out of line, that works for me...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Gotcha, Scott (and Randy and Betty).

Again, I just lacked any familiarity with either the liklihood that a campaign would employ contract laborers or with what rate a campaign might pay such laborers, either one.

And I'm certainly aware of the much higher rates both Burchett and his predecessors have needed to pay their Chiefs of Staff once in office.

Blind alley I started down, then...

Back on point, Scott, I do agree with KNS that we are all reasonable to have expected a higher "level of professional accounting" to have been applied to the campaign's reporting.

In fact, my having reviewed all those disclosures online and having discerned that none of them reported any level of unpaid obligations at the end of any reporting period convinces me of it. Surely the campaing had such?

However, I also agree with others commenting here and at the KNS site that a large part of the communication problem arising between KNS staff and its readership is rooted in KNS staff having used incorrect--or at least inadequate--accounting jargon in this story in trying to relate its concerns to readers, as in Jack characterizing yesterday that First TN Bank "image search" as a "register". I don't think I've ever before agreed with KNS poster "ConnieF" about anything, until s/he made that same objection in comments yesterday!

I will say that, due to our talking here, my understanding of KNS's concern is clearer now than it was.

Pam Strickland's picture

Tamara, you may have seen it

Tamara, you may have seen it as inadequate accounting jargon, but I went on a family trip this weekend and when the story came up (mentioned by someone else not me), everyone else in the family was very clear in understanding that Burchett and his estranged wife were crooks. Period. Seems everyone thought that you should spend what you reported and report what you spent. No discrepancies. That's why I can't understand why people are defending him.

Average Guy's picture

Everyone thinking there's

Everyone thinking there's proof and actual proof are different things.

If the KNS has someone, who was responsible for the money, saying this money was stolen from the campaign - then out with it.

alan swartz's picture

"Tamara, you may have seen it

"Tamara, you may have seen it as inadequate accounting jargon, but I went on a family trip this weekend and when the story came up (mentioned by someone else not me), everyone else in the family was very clear in understanding that Burchett and his estranged wife were crooks."

You people at the Sentinel need to get your air conditioning checked because you have lost your minds. You may have some strange fungus in the condensate drip pan.

Provide some facts about your wild accusation. All I've seen is a poorly executed witch hunt by a paper that has forgotten what business they are in. Where is the proof Pam?

Pam Strickland's picture

Do you not understand what

Do you not understand what Barker has been saying over and over and over:There are some $15,000 in discrepancies between the campaign expenditure report and the actual expenditure. Plus, there's some questions about whether the company actually did work for the campaign. Those are problems.

And again, I didn't use the word crook, my family members did. Working people who simply read the paper and came to their own conclusion after understanding that there were discrepancies. They aren't Tim's buddies, so aren't willing to cut him slack. They believe that the reports should be accurate. Plain and simple.

reform4's picture

I thought...

There was $15k difference between expenditure report and the CHECKS. Very different.

Be careful- there may be no "there" there. May be enough probable cause for an investigation, but no one should jump the gun here.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

...everyone else in the family was very clear in understanding that Burchett and his estranged wife were crooks. Period.

Pam, this is the very danger of using incorrect verbiage to inadequately describe the nature of the reporting errors.

As I hypothesized above, the problem may be as simple as the "acting treasurer" having innocently recorded the campaign's expenses on a cash basis (copying from the campaign's checkbook register, for instance), when in fact the campaign's books were being kept on an accrual basis (in which case "expenses" should have been gleaned not from the campaign's checkbook register, but from the record of expenses recorded to its ledger as accounts payble).

If this happened, it's true that the campaign was in violation of statute for having failed to disclose its unpaid obligations at the end of each reporting period, but it's certainly not an indicator that anyone involved in the campaign is a "crook." Note that Scott B agrees on this point.

Yes, it appears there are instances when the disclosures incorrectly reported checks issued to Allison Burchett, rather than reported expenses due to specific vendors used.

Conversely, it also appears that the disclosures may have, in some instances, correctly reported expenses due to specific vendors which KNS staff were unable to relate to specific vendor invoices (because reporters didn't have the invoices) or to specific checks issued to those vendors (because reporters didn't have the complete check register or copies of every check issued, either). Some of these expenses-lacking-related-invoices may yet turn out to be the same expenses for which Allison Burchett or others received reimbursement.

The discreps run both ways, but neither sort of discrep has to indicate that anyone is a "crook."

I gotta say I think you're out on a limb to suggest it, at least at this juncture.

And I'm not "defending" Burchett, so much as I'm just mulling what possible explanations yet exist to explain these discreps.

In order to be both thorough and fair, I think you should mull them, too.

Average Guy's picture

White collar accounting

When you're talking large sums, "discrepancies" happen all the time. Hire a good enough accounting team and lawyer, and discrepancies is what they stay.

I'd like to know the truth about the money, but until someone steps forward claiming the money was stolen, there are no "crooks".

And does anybody know how much money the campaign raised in total?

Rachel's picture

As I hypothesized above, the

As I hypothesized above, the problem may be as simple as the "acting treasurer" having innocently recorded the campaign's expenses on a cash basis (copying from the campaign's checkbook register, for instance), when in fact the campaign's books were being kept on an accrual basis (in which case "expenses" should have been gleaned not from the campaign's checkbook register, but from the record of expenses recorded to its ledger as accounts payble).

Tamara,

I appreciate your accounting expertise, but have you ever worked on a local political campaign?

I've never been part of one that talked about "cash basis" and "accrual basis." Nor would I guess that most local campaigns have "ledgers" with "accounts."

Often treasurers are volunteers, and sometimes they get a bit overwhelmed by the process. I've never worked with one who used language as sophisticated as you're using. They're often volunteers, not necessarily with an accounting background, who just work hard to get and keep all the receipts, write all the checks, make sure every check maps to an expenditure on the campaign disclosure form, and struggle to get the dratted reports (with their confusing deadlines) in on time.

This campaign clearly hasn't been up to that task. I doubt very much they could tell you which basis they used. In fact, their official treasurer seems to be MIA.

The fact that $15,000 of campaign $$ was spent and not accounted for on the campaign disclosures needs to be addressed. So do the checks written for $1000 over the associated expenditure.

Unless and until I find out otherwise, I'm perfectly willing to believe that all of this is the result of sloppy amateur bookkeeping, but the Mayor needs to address those issues.

Discovering who the KNS's source was will still leave those questions to be answered.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

They believe that the reports should be accurate.

Let me add that I also believe that the reports should have been accurate.

That just doen't translate into my believing--on the basis of what we know now--that he is a "crook."

And I've said more than once in this conversation that whether the discreps are found to have been either innocent or fraudulent in nature, this situation doesn't bode well for Burchett.

When the dust settles, we can make one of just two possible determinations, namely whether his oversight was inadequate (not good) or whether he or someone on his campaign was a "crook" (worse).

Either way, bad news for Burchett.

Pam Strickland's picture

Well, I tried to respond, and

Well, I tried to respond, and lost the response. Bottomline is the voters think that Burchett isn't behaving right and they don't care if it's his estranged wife or him, they sincerely believe that whatever happened it was wrong and probably illegal, and he'd best just own up to it and get it over with.

And while I have your attention, "discreps" is the most awkward shortening of a word that I've seen in a while. It makes no good sense.

alan swartz's picture

"Bottomline is the voters

"Bottomline is the voters think that Burchett isn't behaving right and they don't care if it's his estranged wife or him, they sincerely believe that whatever happened it was wrong and probably illegal, and he'd best just own up to it and get it over with."

How do you know what 'voters' think? You have spoken to them? Why are you even commenting on this?

Pam Strickland's picture

I talk to voters all the

I talk to voters all the time. It was a voter who said that Burchett was a "crook" in the conversation yesterday. It was a voter who told me today that if Charlie Burchett was alive that Tim would be getting a dressing down for the way he's been behaving lately for even letting things get this far. If his mama and daddy where alive, Tim would be trying to behave with some dignity instead of whatever it is his being doing lately.

And, you, Alan, don't follow me around, you, as far as I know have never even met me, you don't know who I talk to or who I don't talk to so you can't comment with any authority whatsoever on what I do or don't do.

It's fine that you don't like me, but you can stop bullying me. I'm not going to stand for that any more.

alan swartz's picture

"I talk to voters all the

"I talk to voters all the time. It was a voter who said that Burchett was a "crook" in the conversation yesterday."

How many 'voters' did you talk to Pam?

Pam Strickland's picture

Given your improper use of

Given your improper use of single quotation marks, my guess is that no matter what I say, you won't be satisfied. So riddle me this, how many have you talked to? And what do you do each week under your real name that puts your work out in front of hundreds of thousands of people?

Somebody's picture

Well, I tried to respond, and

Well, I tried to respond, and lost the response. Bottomline is the voters think that Burchett isn't behaving right and they don't care if it's his estranged wife or him, they sincerely believe that whatever happened it was wrong and probably illegal, and he'd best just own up to it and get it over with.

And while I have your attention, "discreps" is the most awkward shortening of a word that I've seen in a while. It makes no good sense.

Seriously? You are the last person who should be criticizing others' writing and word choice. For instance, "bottomline" should be two words, not one. It makes no good sense. You also don't need a comma after "respond" in the first sentence. You do need a comma after "behaving right," and for that matter, the word "right" should be replaced with the word "correctly." After the phrase "wife or him," the comma should be changed to a semicolon in order to remedy that run-on sentence. You also ended the first paragraph with a preposition, which I think is still generally considered to be incorrect. Starting a sentence with the word "and" is accepted more than it once was, but still seems an odd choice when that sentence is a criticism of someone else's writing, while I have your attention.

metulj's picture

Can we all agree that Timmeh

Can we all agree that Timmeh is starting to smell?

Pam Strickland's picture

I'm not going to get into a

I'm not going to get into a spitting match w/ you. I don't edit and reedit blog posts. There are plenty of people who would disagree w/ the reasoning behind that. There are also plenty of folks who would disagree w/ your editing of that paragraph. That's one of the frustrations and joys of the English language. Yet, my guess us that more than not would agree that "discreps" is an awkward abbreviation that trips up the reader who is not familiar w/ that usage.

If you'd like to discuss grammar and mechanics further, you can write me at stricklandkns@me.com. Otherwise, that's all I have to say about the matter, Somebody.

Somebody's picture

I'm not spitting. I just

I'm not spitting. I just suggest you go google the words "speck," "log," and "eye," and see what you get. You might remember a lesson that your mama taught you.

Pam Strickland's picture

Look, you don't like my

Look, you don't like my style. That's fine. I suggest you get over that. I'll be glad to talk to you about substance, but we can agree to disagree about my mama.

alan swartz's picture

"Yet, my guess us that more

"Yet, my guess us that more than not would agree that "discreps" is an awkward abbreviation that trips up the reader who is not familiar w/ that usage."

The difference is intent. Tamara didn't intend to deceive, where Donial and especially McElroy did. There is no excuse for using the word "recorded" when the word should be "reported". And to call a bank image a check register is ridiculous. That is a fraud.

Ask your boss why he doesn't demand that Allison Burchett cough up the receipts and invoices for the missing six checks written to her. If he actually wanted to get to the bottom of this McElroy would demand that Allison stop her games. The fact is McElroy is a willing co-conspirator and wants this to drag on. A real journalist would not defend this little conspiracy.

Pam Strickland's picture

This isn't my story. What

This isn't my story. What you're not connecting is that I'm an independent contractor who writes op-ed. I have independent opinions from the paper. In this case I agree completely w/ how it has been handled. If you want to ask McElroy why something has or hasn't been done, you ask him.

Oh, I forgot, you can't do that, it would require you to reveal your identity.

Rachel's picture

Did y'all forget the subject

Did y'all forget the subject line of this thread?

Just a friendly reminder.

Calypso's picture

"Bottomline is the voters

"Bottomline is the voters think that Burchett isn't behaving right and they don't care if it's his estranged wife or him, they sincerely believe that whatever happened it was wrong and probably illegal, and he'd best just own up to it and get it over with."

The voters?

You talked to over 18000 voters? Half the last Mayoral election.

I'm impressed.

You take your work seriously.

You're a blowhard aren't you?

Pam Strickland's picture

Nope, I'm not. But you are a

Nope, I'm not. But you are a bully.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

"Discreps" is accounting jargon for "discrepancies," of course (and I agree that I probably shouldn't have used jargon).

I'm terribly prone to start sentences with coordinating conjunctions (although I know better), yet ironically I never end my sentences with prepositions (in spite of the fact that it sometimes causes me to sound stilted, even to my own ears).

I reign (with Janet Neely) as the Princess of Ellipses and I likely guess incorrectly as to when I should or should not hyphenate words most every time (but I seldom attempt to check myself).

And on the subject of checking my spelling (there I go leading with that coordinating conjunction, again), I seldom run SpellCheck for any reason.

In a gesture of reciprocal kindness for their not correcting me, I do however refrain from correcting many other posters guilty of committing the grammatical errors I most disdain, namely using "there's" when "there are" is in order and using "data" and "media" as if the terms were singular.

But I thought we were all friends here?

Anyway. Yes, Toby, I agree that Burchett has clearly made some mistakes of some sort, so his time right now is better spent on producing explanations for his constituents than on trying to track down who "ratted him out."

(That last phrase indicated in quotes is a colloquialism, BTW. Please do not therefore imagine that I've just up and thunk it's suddenly appropriate to end a sentence with a preposition...)

Somebody's picture

I gots no probs. withe

I gots no probs. withe abbreviations, colloquialisms, and grammatical errors in yer posts. It just rubbed my fur backwards when someone who posts a steady stream of iPhone autocorrect maloprops goes out her way to tell you that "discreps" is somehow imprecise jargon. I'm pretty sure everyone could figure out what "discreps" is supposed to mean. Carry on.

Pam Strickland's picture

Tamara, truth us this is a

Tamara, truth us this is a blog where people are in a hurry and basic grammar and mechanics don't bother me. But jargon in any environment is a personal pet peeve of mine. It shuts out all but the insiders. Yes, that was one that could be figured out w/ some work, but why make someone work? They are just as likely to just stop reading. That's what I do w/ jargon, or anything that gets too deep in the weeds.

EconGal's picture

There's some good posts over which to mull ... ... ...

FWIW, I now officially admire both Betty Bean and this unknown (to me, anyway) Tamara person.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Very funny, EconGal!

My understanding is that Churchill said "that was one rule of grammar with which up (he) would not put."

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

And you're too hasty with your praise for me, EG.

"Out" is, of course, an intransitive verb, not a preposition.

So my joke falls flat...

Do carry on, all.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I completely agree with your every point, Rachel.

And actually, since I don't see that the campaign has come along in any of its amended disclosures to indicate that it had any previously undisclosed obligations "hanging" at the end of any reporting period, I suppose these discrepancies can't really be chalked up to their having jumped back and forth between "cash basis" and "accrual basis" accounting from one reporting period to the next, anyway. It's looking like they probably operated on a cash basis throughout the campaign?

The other thing that seems to point to general sloppiness, rather that cash-basis-versus-accrual-basis screw-ups, is that some of the amended returns appear to reflect new disbursements not reflected previously? Not new "expenses," but new "disbursements?"

I can't tell what the heck happened, so I'm not surprised KNS can't, either.

I do agree that an arms-length examination by some outside examiner is in order, and that Burchett should submit to it.

Somebody else's picture

There's a lot of arrogantly delivered mistakes by some peeps

If I was a staunch liberal or progressive, in an effort to maintain public credibility I would try to trade some of our self-anointed spokepeople to the other team.

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