Sunday, May 22, 2016

Majority Of Funding For Oconee County Sheriff Candidate Hynes Comes From Non-Local Sources

Large Amounts Raised

More than half of the funding for the campaign of Oconee County Sheriff candidate Kevin “Chappy” Hynes has come from non-local sources, according to early campaign finance filings, while incumbent Sheriff Scott Berry has raised almost all of his campaign funds from local sources.

As of March 31, Hynes had raised $52,600 and lent himself another $5,000 for the campaign, while Berry had raised $11,100.

The final figures for fundraising for the election on Tuesday won’t be known until June 30, when Hynes and Berry as well as other candidates, must fill their campaign finance reports for the first half of the year.

The amount of and source of funding for the Sheriff’s race has become a campaign issue, however, and the amount of money raised in the race dwarfs that raised in other Oconee County races.

Two of the four candidates for the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, by comparison, had raised $2,818 between them by March 31, and two others filed affidavits saying they did not intend to raise or spend more than $2,500 each.

Early voting ended on Friday, with 2,246 persons already having cast their ballots, or 347 fewer than had voted early for the March 1 presidential primary. Turnout had been running ahead of the March primary until the last week of early voting.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. All of the local contests are on the Republican ballot.

First Campaign Forum

At the candidate forum on April 14, Robert Wyatt, 1090 Apalachee Trace, outside Bishop, asked the two candidates for Sheriff who their major supporters were, why the donors were supporting the candidates, and what the donors expected to gain from their contributions..

Signs On Hog Mountain Road

Neither candidate said he thought the money would influence what he would do if elected, but Berry did emphasize that his funds were locally raised, with the exception of $900 from his wife’s father, his father, and his brother.

Hynes said he had raised more than $60,000, and this was because people “believe in me, believe in my integrity, believe in my leadership, believe in my courage and motivation.”

Berry said he had not “asked a single person for a single dime," but he had $11,096 in his campaign account.

Second Forum

At the forum on April 25, moderator Tim Bryant again asked the candidates to identify the sources of their funding.

Hynes said his money came from family and friends but was not more specific.

Berry said his donors were people who live and work in Oconee County, and he mentioned Athens attorney Ed Tolley as an example.

The campaign finance reports are public records, and The Oconee Enterprise reported the amounts of money raised and some of the donors in a front-page article on April 7.

The paper didn’t focus on the addresses of those who had given money, which has been the issue raised in the campaign.

Source Of Hynes Funds

In my analysis, I treated as local any address using a post office that is used in Oconee County, such as Watkinsville, Athens, Bishop, Statham and Bogart.

That means that some people with an Athens address are counted as local, though they may not live in Oconee County. An Athens Post Office does deliver mail in a large part of the county.

Hynes listed $50,371 in campaign contributions through March 31, and just more than 56 percent of those came from non-local sources.

The non-local contributions come from elsewhere in Georgia and from Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. Included are comedian Jeff Foxworthy of Alpharetta and James Johnson, self-employed, from Lakeville, Minn.

Richts As Donors

Former University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and his wife, Katharyn, each gave $2,500, and I treated their contribution as local since their address is listed as 1151 Scotland Bend in Broadlands subdivision outside Watkinsville.

According to Oconee County tax records, the Richts still own the 1151 Scotland Bend property and a vacant lot at 1171 Scotland Bend. Hynes is married to Mark Richt’s sister.

Hynes also reported receiving $2,350 from a “common source,” meaning from members of a family, members of the same firm or partnership, or employees of the same person. No address is listed for those contributions. Each of those contributions is not to exceed $100.

Hynes listed 46 other contributions of more than $100, with 11 of them at the maximum level of $2,500. The average contribution was $1,095.

Source Of Berry Funds

Berry’s March 31 campaign finance form listed $11,480 in contributions since the first of the year.

That included 23 contributions of more than $100, with only his father’s $200 contribution coming from outside the county. His brother’s contribution and that of his father-in-law were not yet listed.

That means that 98 percent of his funding at that point was local.

Berry’s largest contribution was a single donation of $2,000 from Sarah Epps at 1251 Beverly Drive in Welbrook Farms subdivision off Daniells Bridge Road. Tolley gave $500.

Berry’s average contribution was $482 dollars.

He also reported $380 in contributions of $100 and less, which are not listed specifically.

Financial Disclosure Forms

When they filed for candidacy, both Berry and Hynes completed a Personal Financial Disclosure Statement, as required by law.

Berry listed his home at 1760 Whipporwill Road outside Watkinsville as his sole property asset, reported that his sole job was a Sheriff, and stated that his wife, Tammye, is a teacher in the Gwinnett County school system.

Hynes listed his home at 1041 Camden Park Drive off Simonton Bridge Road east of Watkinsville as his sole property.

He lists his job as campus minister with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Athens and says he also is reserve deputy and chaplain with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

His wife, Michelle Lee Hynes, is a physical therapist with Integra Rehabilitation, 1592 Mars Hill Road, according to the report.

Sheriff Campaign Spending

Hynes had spent $23,124 as of March 31.

He spent $3,500 to rent a headquarters in Butler’s Crossing, $15,427 for car magnets, signs, consulting, literature, banners, a web site, “branding,” and $1,943 to reimburse his wife for the qualifying fees.

Berry had spent $6,698 during the first quarter of the year from his campaign funds.

Berry’s biggest expenditures were for yard signs, accounting for $4,209.

He also spent $1,943 for qualifying fees.

BOC Races

Board of Commissioners candidates Penny Mills and Mark Thomas, both seeking Post 1 on the Commission, filed affidavits with the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration saying that they did not intend to raise or spend more than $2,500 in the campaign.

If spending and donations are less than $2,500, it is not necessary to complete a campaign finance form for the reporting period.

Mills subsequently told me she will spend more than that amount, and that, as required, she will file a campaign finance form on June 30 documenting her spending.

Sarah Bell, running for Post 4 commissioner, raised $1,169 during the first quarter of the year and loaned herself $844.

Mark Saxon, incumbent Post 4 commissioner, raised $1,694, with $594 of that a contribution he made to the campaign.

Saxon did not report spending any money on his campaign. Bell spent $678 on yard signs.

Post 1 Disclosures

On her financial disclosure form, Mills lists her home at 1150 Northwest Woods just north of Butler’s Crossing as her sole property.

Mills lists her job as a retired college administrators at what was formerly Gainesville State University, and her husband, Larry Preston, as an educator at Union Institute and University in Cincinnati and at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.

Thomas lists his home at five properties totaling 285 acres, not including his home at 1531 Aycock Road in the west of the county.

Thomas lists his occupation as owner of Mark Thomas Enterprises, a contractor, and of Hot Thomas BBQ, on SR 15 south of Watkinsville. His wife, Dianna Thomas, is listed as office manager and restaurant operator on the disclosure form.

Post 4 Disclosures

Bell lists her occupation as president and owner of Doctors of English, a consulting firm for businesses and individuals, and president of We Care Animal Haven, a rescue organization.

Bell lists her home at 1201 Arrowhead Road, east of Butler’s Crossing, and a jointly owned farm in Rose Hill, Ala. She is not married.

Saxon lists his home at 1812 Clotfelter Road in the northwest of the county, and two additional properties on Hog Mountain Road totaling 12 acres.

He lists his occupation as retired and as an employee of Oconee Lending Group in Watkinsville, which provides car title pawn services. His wife, Maria Cooper Saxon, is a teacher in the Oconee County school system.


Xardox said...

Fascinating information, actually.
As usual, The Rest of The Story may or may not swirl into disclosure.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! $52k compared to $11K... tells me that there are ALOT of people that must believe in Hynes' message, vision, ability to lead a Sheriffs Office ect, that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to gain from Hynes being elected as Oconee County Sheriff, that they are willing to invest their hard earned money to see that happen!! Many, many people from across this great nation are sick and tired of seeing our "incumbent" political system continue and are willing to do their part, financially, to bring it down!!!

Anonymous said...

Good point, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Big money from outside the voting district. Looks like someone is trying to rig and buy the election.
In the robocall I received the guy could not even pronounce Oconee Co. correctly. He asked for me to vote for "Chippy Hanes" in Ocoee Co.
If you are going to buy the election at least have the people that are trying to convince me know where Oconee Co. is located and how to pronounce the candidate's name and where they are running correctly.
I will cast my vote for someone that is tried and proven that has run a quality department with competent qualified trained staff.

Lee Becker said...

Zippidy left the comment below, but my fat thumb hit the delete button rather than the publish button my my phone, and I could not reverse that. I apologize to Zippidy.

I suspect Chappy just has a wealthy family and friends spread across the US. He is not from this area. I doubt this is sinister, but personally, I think in this case local is better.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Scott Berry! He will continue to be great for Oconee County.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Oconee County citizens have not had any contact with Scott. If they did they would not vote for him. He says this is his last term, we shall see. It is definitely time for a change!