WARNER ROBINS — Nearly a year since the death of former Mayor Donald Walker, paperwork detailing the financial end of his last run for office still does not exist.
The lack of campaign disclosures since Walker’s death — no documents have been filed on his account since June 2009 — means it is unknown who contributed funds to his account. It also leaves the question of whether $10,000 existed in the account to transfer to mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk for his failed run for the mayor’s office in 2009.
Because local and state officials say little can be done unless someone files a complaint on the matter, The Telegraph has filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission against Walker’s estate for failure to submit the required documents.
Walker’s death from a self-inflicted single gunshot wound came in the middle of a heated campaign where three men waged battle against Walker for the job he had held since a special election in 1994. It was also two days before the first campaign disclosure forms would show how the candidates’ fundraising efforts were progressing.
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No forms were submitted on Walker’s behalf.
Walker’s account did not list a second person to handle the campaign accounts upon his death. The administrator of his estate would become responsible for the campaign. Attorney Larry Walker said recently that Donald Walker’s widow, Patricia, was handling all the campaign information for her deceased husband. Larry Walker said she was planning to file the final disclosure soon, and declined to comment further.
Warner Robins Elections Supervisor Vida Rawls said while the campaign disclosure forms will eventually be turned in to her office, it’s out of her hands what happens to the campaign for failure to adhere to elections rules.State Ethics Commission Executive Secretary Stacey Kalberman said a final disclosure is required by law.
The campaign so far has been charged $75 in fees for failure to submit the Sept. 30, 2009, filing, according to the State Ethics Commission’s website. Because it’s still considered open, said Bill Bozarth of political watchdog group Common Cause Georgia, the campaign has also missed the June 30, 2010, deadline for the contributions files.
A call seeking comment from Kalberman on whether the account could rack up more fines was not returned.
Because Walker left no will, his wife, as the administrator of his estate, can do with the funds what she likes.
That includes making a $10,000 contribution to the account of Chuck Chalk.Shortly after Donald Walker’s death, Patricia Walker came out in support of the opponent Donald Walker himself said he knew little about. That endorsement also came with thousands of dollars in contributions from longtime Walker supporters.
That money could be returned to the Walker campaign after an advisory opinion by the State Ethics Commission on Thursday ruled individual campaign contributions, be it from an individual or a campaign, max out at $2,400. Chalk lost to current Mayor Chuck Shaheen by less than 200 votes in a runoff election in December.
The contribution from the Walker campaign has kept Chalk in the public eye.The State Ethics Commission dismissed a case against him on Aug. 17 because of a lack of clarity in whether campaigns can transfer money to another campaign without limits, as opposed to following campaign contribution limits established for individuals.
Late last month, State Rep. Wendell K. Willard wrote to the state attorney general’s office asking for clarification of how the rules should be interpreted.According to the Ethics in Government Act, contributions left after a candidate pays necessary expenses can be given back to donors, used as donations to certain charitable organizations, transferred to other campaigns or political party committees, or used to repay campaign fees.
Though it doesn’t apply in Walker’s case, the account can also be left open, for use in future campaigns for the same political office.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.