July 29 2016 07:37 AM

Candidate claims she didn’t get letters telling her she had violated election law

FRIDAY, July 29 — An attorney representing a Lansing Community College Board of Trustees candidate accused of making false claims on an election document said yesterday his client “did not deliberately intend to violate Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act.”

In a letter to Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, Joseph Garcia, an attorney at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn, said Angela Mathews never received mailed notifications of her alleged violations. The letter was emailed to Byrum yesterday. Mathews filed Tuesday to run for the LCC board this year.

Mathews

However, a county election official said that Mathews was also informed in a phone conversation of the alleged violations.

Byrum has referred the case to the Mason Police Department for investigation of perjury, a felony carrying up to a $1,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.

Garcia called the situation a “bureaucratic miscommunication.” He quoted William Shakespeare by calling it “much ado about nothing.”

Garcia claimed Mathews has not lived in the 1000 block of Chester Road, to which the letters were mailed, since July 2014, when she signed another affidavit of identity to get on the ballot for LCC trustee race that year. Byrum released nine letters to Mathews regarding campaign issues, all sent to her Chester Road address.

Garcia said in the letter that because Mathews had moved she did not get any of the nine letters Byrum’s office sent to her.

The attorney also claimed that Mathews had decided not run for the office in 2014 but it was after the deadline to withdraw from the race when she did so.

“She never received any contributions or expended any funds,” he wrote. “She could have easily qualified for a Campaign Finance Filing Waiver, however, it was her belief she was out of the race.”

But Jennifer Shuster, who was Bryum’s elections coordinator in 2014, said yesterday she spoke with Mathews by phone in late July or August 2014 about her obligation to file for a candidate committee.

“It’s the only time I have had to call a candidate,” she said. She added that she did so because she was trying to help Mathews avoid a violation.

“She told me she was going through a difficult time and wasn’t sure if she was even going to campaign or try to win the LCC race,” Shuster recalled.

During that conversation Shuster said she told Mathews she had to file her candidate committee paperwork. The one-page document also includes a spot to accept a reporting waiver because the campaign is unlikely to receive or expend more than $1,000.

That one-page document was never filed. With her name still on the ballot, Mathews was obligated by Michigan Campaign Finance laws to file fundraising and expense reports with Byrum’s office. Failing to do so results in fines being levied. Because Mathews did not file three such reports, she was assessed a fine of $1,300, which she has not paid.

Byrum has referred the situation to the Mason Police Department for a criminal investigation of perjury after Mathews filed her affidavit of identity with the Clerk’s Office on Tuesday to run again for LCC trustee this year. That document requires candidates to swear before a notary public that they do not owe any campaign fines or fees and have filed all required paperwork and reports.

Garcia requested Byrum to waive the fees that Mathews owed. She replied in a letter yesterday rejecting that request because Mathews failed to provide a valid reason for failing to file her reports and pay her fines.

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