Ethics Board fines two officials, four PACs

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez.

The city Board of Ethics has fined one elected official and four political action committees for violating campaign finance rules last year.

In total, the city stands to collect $27,000 from the fines, the board announced Monday.

The board issued a $13,000 fine to Marnie Aument-Loughrey for Change, a PAC for a City Council at-large candidate who lost last year, for failing to disclose campaign donations and expenses by set deadlines in May 2015. The board tried to reach Aument-Loughrey and her PAC for several months to no avail, according to the board.

The Philadelphia code mandates that a $2,000 fine be issued for the first 30 days that a campaign finance report is not filed, plus $1,000 for each additional 30-day period.

The following candidates and groups cooperated with the board and received reduced fines:

Citizens for Jordan Harris, a PAC supporting State Rep. Jordan Harris, was fined $4,000 for failure to file his May 8 report until Dec. 30. What would have been a $9,000 fine was reduced to $4,000.

Sheriff Jewell Williams was fined $500 for having accepted a gift from a newspaper with which his office does business. In March 2015, the Public Record named Williams its Public Servant of the Year, featuring him on the cover and giving him a $1,000 prize. However, the Sheriff's Office pays to have notices of sheriff's sales printed in the Public Record.

"The sheriff could have substantially affected the Public Record's financial interest through official action," the board stated in its settlement.

In addition to the fine, Williams will give the $1,000 award to the city.

LEAD PAC, Friends of Maria, and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez were found to be in violation for making and receiving excess in-kind contributions; making material misstatements in campaign finance reports; and directing the expenditures of more than one political committee.

LEAD PAC, which was started by several residents of the Seventh Council District, including Quiñones-Sánchez, spent $19,973 for advertisements, T-shirts, and various get-out-the-vote activities that advocated for or influenced the election of Quiñones-Sanchez and other candidates. The board noted that the limit is $11,500 and that neither side reported the in-kind donations.

Quiñones-Sánchez will pay a $1,500 fine, Friends of Maria will pay a $3,000 fine and LEAD PAC will pay a $4,000 fine.

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