By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Councilwoman not being fined for report filing
Figueras hasnt received any contributions toward campaign
Placeholder Image

The head of the state agency that oversees campaign contributions says a technical error caused the agency to fine Gainesville City Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras $1,375.

A letter on the Georgia Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's website incorrectly states that Figueras did not report contributions to her campaign for re-election the first three months of the year.

Figueras did file the report, by mail, on April 4.
Commission officials weren't sure Wednesday what caused the error.

The commission's executive secretary, Stacey Kalberman, said Figueras' name had been entered into the agency's computer system twice. And though the system was recording reports Figueras had filed on time, it was also concurrently fining her, under a separate account, for not filing timely reports.

"We're trying to figure out how this happened," Kalberman said.

The allegation that Figueras might owe the fine upset the councilwoman.

"I will not pay $1,375 to anybody, because I did not do anything wrong," Figueras said.

Figueras told The Times on Monday that she filed the report by mail instead of electronically, because she had trouble obtaining the identification number she needed to file online.

It was a problem County Commissioner Scott Gibbs said he also had when filing his contribution report earlier this month.

Other local elected officials across the state have reported similar problems, according to Georgia Municipal Association spokeswoman Amy Henderson.

"There has been some frustration expressed by our members over the lack of communication from the commission and then issues such as with (Figueras), where the proper documents were submitted, but they are apparently unaware of it," Henderson said in an email to The Times.

Kalberman said the problem lies in the state agency's new responsibilities. Formerly, the commission was only responsible for state-level candidates and local officials reported contributions elsewhere.

In 2010, however, the state legislature made the agency the filing officer for all elected officials across the state.

The change increased the agency's caseload from 7,800 reports to an estimated 68,000 this year, Kalberman said.

The agency has a staff of four, and recently suffered other budget cuts.

"We are a finite number of employees," said Kalberman. "...There's only so many phone calls we can return in a day."

Figueras, like other Gainesville council members up for re-election this year, has not received any contributions to her campaign this year, according to reports she filed with the commission.

Regional events