BY DAVID LYNN/ Sure to be elected a City Commissioner in this November’s election, Dr. Stephanie Singer faces a problem when it comes to leading by example. Her campaign filings are in disarray, creating a headache for her campaign team, herself and those responsible for insuring campaign filings are updated and complete.
Dr. Singer’s website states, “As City Commissioner, Stephanie Singer will make the office accountable to the people.” Dr. Singer would do well to learn to follow the basic election laws which she is competing to enforce. What follows shows her campaign-finance reports are anything but accountable.
She first filed papers with the City of Philadelphia to become a candidate on Dec. 28, 2010. On Jan. 31, 2011, 4:55 p.m., Friends of Stephanie Singer filed not one but two annual reports for 2010.
One report was in form DSEB-502, the long form, which broke out $15,700 in contributions from 12 individuals – five of them giving the maximum of $2,600 for the year 2010.
The other report was in the form of DSEB-503, which the Board of Ethics apparently used when putting information on their search site. There are no supporting schedules for 2010 cycle 7 for Friends of Stephanie Singer on the City’s website, and there appear to be no digital filings either for the period.
Friends of Stephanie Singer appears to have filed its first set of text files for 2011 cycle 2 – and filed them poorly. Eighty-two of her contributors gave more than $250 for 2011 cycle 2. Only 22 of them listed their employers as self, self-employed or retired.
Friends of Stephanie Singer did not bother to provide employer addresses, cities, states, and zip codes for the remaining 60 contributors as required by law. The amended text file (which is not marked as amended in the digital filing, does not contain the proper code for the office for which Dr. Singer is running, and uses the wrong address for Dr. Singer’s committee) does show the employer names of her large contributors – including the ones who max out at $2,600 for the second time.
Friends of Stephanie Singer may have filed an amended DSEB-500 to authorize a change of address, but none appears to be on file at the office at Delaware Avenue & Spring Garden.
During the period between cycle 2 and cycle 3, candidates and committees are required to engage in what is commonly called 24-hour reporting. Any contribution of $500 or more must be reported to the election board. Reports may be filed by email, fax, courier, or in person. Friends of Stephanie Singer neglected to report on at least 29 contributions totaling $57,100 during this period.
Under normal circumstances, the committee would be facing a mountain of fines, but according to Tim Dowling at the County Board of Elections, the City Board of Ethics may give the committee yet a few extra days to file these reports. With such rigorous standards, one wonders what other illegal behavior the City Board of Ethics may be ignoring.
Curiously enough, Friends of Stephanie Singer filed both the short form and the long form 2011 cycle 3, again with the wrong office code and the address for candidate Singer, not the committee. Both were received Jun. 17, 2011 by the City of Philadelphia, although her text files for the period did not arrive until much later.
Interestingly enough, both reports use Stephanie Singer’s candidate address, not the political committee address, and the long form has the wrong code for the office which Dr. Singer is seeking.
Dr. Singer also filed a candidate report on paper, although there appears to be no digital counterpart on the city’s campaign finance search site. She indicates that, as a candidate, she received $8,000.00 from her own committee, Friends of Stephanie Singer.
She personally spent $36,000.00 on campaign mail expense, and instead of showing any balancing contributions or debt, she shows a negative balance as a candidate of $28,000.
Did she overdraw her checking account? File for bankruptcy? Take out an undisclosed loan? Friends of Stephanie Singer shows a debt to Stephanie Singer for $28,000, but there is no description of the loan, although one assumes it is for this mailing. It is also worth noting that the candidate filing for Dr. Singer is improperly signed by her treasurer, Ellen Chapman, and Dr. Singer has signed on the wrong line.
(David Lynn maintains an SQL Server database with approximately 12,000,000 campaign finance records. He also provides free software to run political campaigns. Email him at David@DAL-Services.com.)