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Mayor tries to solve campaign fund issue.

Byline: Andrea Damewood The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Following inquiries from The Register-Guard, Springfield mayor and congression-al candidate Sid Leiken is working with state elections officials to clear up discrepancies in his campaign finance fund.

Campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State elections office show Leiken's mayoral campaign fund, Friends of Sid Leiken, paid his private consulting firm $2,300 in the past year. The payments to his firm, SWL Consulting, occurred on March 11, 2009, and May 5, 2008, according to campaign finance records.

State law prohibits candidates from using campaign money to pay for services to companies they have a financial stake in, Secretary of State spokesman Don Hamilton said. The law prevents candidates from personally profiting from a political race, he said.

After reviewing the records, Leiken said the payments from Friends of Sid Leiken to SWL Consulting were to reimburse his company for purchases it made on the campaign's behalf. Such transactions are allowed under campaign finance law, as long as the transaction is recorded completely.

However, in the state OreStar database in which campaigns record their receipts and expenditures, the Friends of Leiken expenditures - $2,000 for a polling expense and $300 for voter pamphlet material - were inaccurately entered. To make the records with the state accurate, Leiken's team needs to complete the form noting that outside companies were paid by SWL Consulting, in essence showing that his business had no direct benefit from the transactions, Hamilton said.

Leiken said this week that his campaign is correcting the information.

The mayor said he was unaware that he had potentially done anything wrong.

The treasurer of Friends of Sid Leiken, Dean Kortge, a Lane Transit District board member and local insurance agent, handles most of the payments from the campaign fund, Leiken said.

But when Kortge is out of town, Leiken said he pays expenses out-of-pocket himself and then is reimbursed from the campaign fund. Kortge was not available for comment Wednesday.

"(Kortge) travels a lot, and when he's not in town, I have to make the payment myself and put in for reimbursement," Leiken said. "Honestly, it's very innocent."

The Secretary of State's office has not received any complaints, nor is it investigating the case, Hamilton said.

Personal reimbursements are "a complicated process, and it's not infrequent for candidates and campaigns to have a problem with accounting for personal reimbursements," the spokesman said.

Leiken said that because he wanted to quickly conduct a telephone poll this spring, and because Kortge was unavailable, he used SWL money to pay for the $2,000 poll and later put in for reimbursement from his campaign fund.

The mayor said that as the political leader of the city, he periodically commissions polls on city issues.

The poll - conducted earlier this year before Leiken filed as a candidate for the Fourth Congressional District race - surveyed about 200 Springfield residents, he said. Leiken said the poll included questions about the city measure asking for a 2-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, but he declined to identify other topics addressed in the poll or name the firm that conducted the polling.

"I don't share (the poll results) with anybody." Leiken said. That polling "has just been mine to kind of gauge on where things are," he said. "That's the way I've always operated with my past polling efforts as well. I don't share it with the public."

Two members of Save Our Streets, a political action committee formed to support the gas-tax measure, said Leiken had not shared the poll results with them.

Voters on Tuesday defeated the gas measure.

Leiken, who has been mayor of Springfield since 2000, filed paperwork this month with the Federal Elections Committee to run in 2010 for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio.
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Sid Leiken's campaign finance reports show that $2,300 in expenses to reimburse his company was inaccurately entered
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2009
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