AG candidate Ozanne finds spending records

July 25, 2014

MADISON Attorney general hopeful Ismael Ozanne failed to supply a reason for spending $33,000 in campaign cash on finance reports he filed with state elections officials earlier this week.

But Ozanne campaign adviser Stan Davis sent The Associated Press updated records late Thursday afternoon with explanations for most of the spending, saying he spent the entire day trying to piece them together.

The campaign has yet to turn over the updated records to the state Government Accountability Board; Davis said he's still trying to fill in some of the blanks and he wants to be sure the information is completely accurate.

Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney, is one of three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 12 primary. The others are Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ and state Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee.

Ozanne's campaign has been struggling financially. According to reports filed with the GAB on Monday, he managed to raise just $39,000 over the first six months of the year and had only $3,405 on hand as of June 30.

Wisconsin law requires candidates to supply reasons for their expenditures. A closer review of Ozanne's initial reports show he listed no reason for spending $33,500 of the $97,000 he spent during the first half of the year.

The reports show the campaign wrote nearly 20 checks to unknown recipients, as well as indicating 10 ATM withdrawals were made from the campaign account without giving reasons why or identifying who took the money out. One of the withdrawals, for $203, was made from in New Orleans in May.

Failure to report spending can't keep candidates off the ballot, but Ozanne could be charged with campaign finance law violations if he doesn't supply the information, according to GAB Elections Division Administrator Mike Haas. There's no hard deadline to amend the reports, Haas said, but he declined to comment on how much time the board typically gives candidates to make changes.

The updated records Davis sent to The AP indicate the checks paid for campaign staff's salaries, consultants, website design, the state Democratic Party and Davis' consulting firm.

Davis said the campaign was missing a check register that listed those expenditures. By the time the staff realized it was gone, they didn't have time to get records directly from the campaign's bank and were forced to file an incomplete report Monday, he said. Davis added that he had to contact the bank Thursday for the missing information.

The records also indicate Davis withdrew $2,500 from the campaign account through ATMs and other means.

He said he made the withdrawals because the campaign didn't have enough money to pay him, so he had reached an agreement with Ozanne to withdrawal money when it became available. He said he used the campaign's bank card for the New Orleans withdrawal because the ATM in his hotel wouldn't recognize his personal card.

Still unaccounted for is about $700 in withdrawals. Davis said he believes that went to cover transactions fees, but he is still making sure.

Davis said the campaign always intended to file an amended report. Asked when he might turn over the revisions, he said "soon."

Ozanne's competition raised far more money over the first half of the year. Happ raised $170,000 and had nearly $121,000 on hand. Richards accumulated $190,000 and had almost $170,000 in the bank.

The winner will face Republican Brad Schimel, the Waukesha County district attorney, in the Nov. 4. general election. Schimel raised $366,000 over the first six months of the year and had $400,000 on hand.

 


Associated Press