Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Voter challenges Calvin Say’s use of campaign funds to pay legal expenses in residency challenge
by Larry Geller
Nancy E. McGee, who identifies herself as a voter in House District 20, reports that she filed a complaint today with the Campaign Spending Commission challenging former House Speaker Calvin Say’s use of “over $60,000” of campaign funds to pay his legal costs in defending against challenges to his residency in the district he represents.
In a statement released via email, McGee explained, in part:
As a voter in District 20, I am outraged that Calvin Say has used tens of thousands of dollars of his campaign funds for personal use by paying his personal attorneys to defend his spurious claim to legal residency.
The use of campaign funds for this personal purpose is illegal and against the spirit of our state's campaign financing system.
His requests to the House of Representatives to pay his personal legal bills to defend challenges to his residency were denied on May 15 because the House deemed it not connected to his duties as a House member.
The complaint itself cites statutes and administrative rules that regulate the use of campaign funds and prohibit their diversion for personal use. It holds that Say’s use of campaign funds to defend against the legal action is not related to his duties as a member of the House.
Usurping office is not a duty of an office holder just as bribery is not a duty of office while it can only occur if someone is possessing office. Paying attorneys to defend the usurpation, like bribery, cannot be characterized as "ordinary and necessary" expenses incurred in connection with those duties.
Say's request to have the House defend him were declined because the House deemed it to be personal and having nothing to do with his performance of his official duties.
Should the complaint prevail, it does not put Say’s seat in jeopardy, but could result in repayment of amounts deemed to be illegal, and could involve penalties. The Commission would have to verify that amounts paid by the campaign to the law firm of Kobayashi Sugita Goda were in fact used for his defense against the state court cases.
A copy of the complaint can be downloaded here (pdf).