July 11, 2007
In Southampton: Supe's Campaign Fund Questioned
Political mudslinging in Southampton Town is proliferating.
After recent questions raised in regard to whether or not Councilwoman Linda Kabot, who is running a primary for the supervisor's seat against incumbent Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, mishandled donations she received at a fundraiser last year, Kabot's come back with some heated accusations of her own.
Detractors have accused Kabot of depositing checks from supporters of her race for councilwoman into another account, earmarked for a future supervisor run, without telling her contributors until months after the account was opened.
In response, Kabot came back with some tough queries of her own aimed directly at Heaney.
Instead of scrutinizing her finances, especially after Kabot said she followed election law and returned the checks, the councilwoman suggested, "They should be more concerned about the excesses of [Heaney's] campaign fund, particularly with $220,000 in a war chest." Kabot said Heaney's numerous donations are of large amounts that may have potentially exceeded the limit of $1896.90 per donor. "It should be questioned."
Heaney's campaign retains the accounting firm of George Rehn, CPA, of Riverhead and Setauket to do all bookkeeping, accounting and official reporting of fundraising efforts. The supervisor claimed he does not participate in the preparation of any reports, and does not have the ability to sign a check.
According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections the account labeled "Heaney for Supervisor" currently contains $215,548.46.
Rehn said Deputy Supervisor Robert Ross contacts him about situations if he is concerned that they might be breaching the campaign contribution limit. The pair go over the account periodically to see if it is over the limit, said Rehn. "Once, a few years ago, we determined that [Heaney] was over the campaign contribution limit. I told him the best thing to do to fix the situation is send the people a refund and that's what he did."
Both Heaney and Ross, he said, "want to have an impeccable record. You don't mix government and politics – it's two separate things."
Rehn acknowledged that Heaney's campaign contribution report shows that the supervisor has received contributions over $1896.90. "That's true, I can't deny it." But, he added, the reason why the donations appear higher than they are in reality is because the net profit first subtracts out fixed and variable costs, taxes and other liabilities.
For example, if a candidate holds a golf outing, and charges $1000 for a foursome, his net contribution or profit is not $1000.
If, over a two-year period, a foursome pays a total of $2000, the net reportable contribution for the cycle is determined by subtracting the expenses associated with the two foursomes. The reminder is what is counted towards the maximum limit for a campaign cycle from an individual contributor.
Rehn said that if you have a golf outing that costs $250 per person, after costs such as tee and green fees and lunch or dinner is subtracted out, the campaign contribution to the candidate is less after those expenses. "People sometimes miss that point," he said.