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Panel says Figueras owes for late report; she says it was filed on time
Fine set at $1,375 for tardy campaign fundraising documents
Myrtle Figueras
Myrtle Figueras

When it comes to running for the Gainesville City Council, war chests don't usually look like change purses, and fines for not reporting those contributions on time usually don't add up to much.

But a letter on the Georgia Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's website asserts that Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras owes $1,375 for not reporting her contributions on time in March.

When contacted by The Times Monday, Figueras, who is up for re-election in November, said she had no idea about the fine.

The councilwoman also said she has not been contacted personally by the commission, formerly known as the State Ethics Commission.

"I don't know why they would say I owe money," Figueras said. "...I file my stuff."

Figueras said she filed the report by mail; another section of the commission's website says the March report was postmarked on April 4.

Of the three council members up for re-election this year, none have reported a contribution to a campaign for re-election to the state's Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

The terms of Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, Councilman Bob Hamrick and Figueras all expire at the end of this year, and so far, only Hamrick runs opposed.

Downtown Gainesville business owner Debra Harkrider has said she will run against Hamrick.

As of June 30, Harkrider had not raised any money for the campaign, either.

Harkrider's bid for the council will be the first time Hamrick has had opposition for the council seat in several years.

The 42-year councilman said he plans to raise money more aggressively now that there is competition in the ring.

"I've already had some people ask about making a contribution," Hamrick said. "I usually just encourage enough contributions just to meet expenses, not to build a war chest or anything like that."

In an election year, municipal candidates are required to file quarterly reports of campaign contributions along with candidates for other state offices.

Those who don't file timely reports are usually fined. For local officials, the fines are usually less than $100.

Figueras said the only problem she had in March was not receiving a personal identification number to file her contribution report electronically. When she did not get the number, Figueras said she mailed the report.

She said she was never contacted about a problem with the filing.

"I have not received a letter at all," Figueras said.
No one from the commission returned calls seeking comment for this report.

Figueras, who originally said she did not plan to seek re-election this year, said Monday she did plan to run again for her post on the council.

"Well, it looks like I am; I tried not to," Figueras said. "...I believe that there is a lot that needs to be done, and I believe my voice is a voice that could bring me ... my ‘oomph' to the council.

"I don't even know what that ‘oomph' is, but I believe that we need to stay and we need to work as hard as we can for each other so all of us can be as we good as we can for Gainesville-Hall County, and I believe I can offer that."

Figueras, who was first elected in 1996, said she solicited other residents of her ward to run for the council seat she holds, but no one has agreed to do so yet.

"I think that new ideas are needed, so it would be a good time for somebody else to step up if they choose to do it," Figueras said.

Bruner and Harkrider did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.


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