The Payson town attorney has ruled a town council candidate violated campaign finance rules when running for office and must pay to remedy the situation.
Deborah Rose ran for a seat on the Payson Town Council last year, ultimately losing to Jolynn Schinstock in a runoff election.
During the campaign, Rose made several videos for her Facebook show where she would occasionally discuss her campaign and other candidates running for election, according to Town Attorney Justin Pierce. These videos were shot at her real estate office, which was then located off the Beeline Highway. Rose leased the office space from Central Arizona Properties, LLC.
Stan Garner later filed a complaint with the town alleging Rose had violated campaign finance laws because she had failed to account for the use of the office space as an in-kind donation. She had also not paid the owner for the use of the space for a campaign-related event.
The town’s filing officer, Tracie Bailey, agreed, finding reasonable cause that Rose had violated campaign finance laws.
It then came before Pierce for resolution as he acts as the enforcement officer.
After months of delay, Pierce emailed Rose and Garner March 1 with a solution to resolve the matter.
“Having reviewed the matter, we concur with the filing officer’s finding that contributions, as set forth in campaign finance law, were made by your company to your campaign in violation of A.R.S. § 16-916,” he wrote in an email. “Our resolution to the complaint is as follows: It is difficult to assess the fair market value of the office space and recording equipment in relation to your occasional use of these assets for the campaign. If a substantial fee had been required to separately rent facilities to have a place to make these recordings, we doubt you (or any campaign) would have made such an expenditure in the first place.”
As a result, Pierce concluded that any rent paid for the limited time of the recordings would have been minimal.
“Thus, although it requires some speculation on our part, we do not believe the fair market value of the benefit that your campaign received from Central Arizona Properties, LLC exceeded $500.”
To resolve the investigation, Pierce proposed that Rose’s campaign reimburse Central Arizona Properties, LLC $500 for the use of office space and equipment used in making the videos and file an amended campaign finance report reflecting the expenditure within 20 days.
Failure to remedy the violation within 20 days will result in a separate civil penalty in the violation’s amount of $500, he wrote.
Pierce asked Rose to provide the town with documentation showing she had paid within 20 days.
Garner said he is pleased with the decision.
“I am glad the town attorney finally issued a finding. I was concerned I would never hear anything. I think the finding is appropriate,” he wrote.
Rose said she had no comment at this time.
“I have 20 days to respond to the notice given to me. When my attorneys have advised me of their findings, I will respond,” she wrote.