PRESTONSBURG Focus has landed on Prestonsburg Mayor Jerry Fannin now that the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance has ruled that Fannin violated a number of campaign finance laws during his 2006 bid for re-election.
In a ruling last week, the registry agreed Fannin violated these laws by accepting in-kind contributions in the form of bumper stickers from T&K Signs and More and by also failing to report various disbursements related to the financing of his campaign, as well as submitting false statements in relation to the campaign and its finances.
Also, the registry says Fannin failed to submit two cash disbursements totaling $5,618 in his 32-day pre-election statements. The amount, instead, was reflected in his 30-day post-election statements.
Fannin is a former part owner of T&K Signs and More with Tony Vandine, stepson to Phillip R. Simpson. Simpson, a Prestonsburg chiropractor, made an unsucessful run for city council in Prestonsburg during the 2002 election. The registrys ruling came as a result of complaints filed by Simpson, something he said he was advised to do.
I felt something had been done wrong and I asked what I should do, Simpson said. I was told to file the complaint and did so. This is serious stuff. Extremely serious stuff. I find no joy in witnessing what appears to be some kind of self-destruction, but when people place themselves above the rules they have to face the consequences.
Simpson insists he is not political rivals with Fannin and said of the current mayor, I think hes done a lot of good for this town, adding, Its a shame things have turned out this way for him.
A report offered from the registrys general counsel Emily Dennis was presented during the registrys regular meeting and represents the key findings for the decision. Following the ruling, it was recommended that Dennis and Executive Director Sarah Jackson further examine the findings to determine possible penalties.
Most severe among those penalties, perhaps, is the possibility that Fannin could be removed from office if the case is taken to that point.
According to Dennis, among the state laws that Fannin violated range from KRS 121.150 to KRS 121.220. State law says in the event of violation of these statutes, the office holder would be asked to give up his or her elected position, leaving the seat vacant. This vacancy would then be filled according to proper regulations.
Though Fannin has not made statements himself in regard to the findings, his attorney, Jim Webb, filed a response to the ruling. Webb offers that Fannin did not attempt to work around the record books in filing his campaign finances, but that the disbursement updates were simply not given to his treasurer in time to properly included.
Dennis included in her findings to the Registry that although such an oversight is a common thing for candidates seeking an office for the first time, the general feeling is that an incumbent should be aware of deadlines and proper protocol for organizing and reporting matters concerning a political campaign.