57 W.Pa. hopefuls missed filing deadline, data show

| Saturday, May 18, 2013, 11:00 p.m.

A dozen Western Pennsylvania judicial campaigns are among 57 statewide that missed a deadline for filing complete contribution and expense reports, state elections data show.

Several candidates on Saturday told the Tribune-Review that they should not have been listed because they or their representatives filed the essential information in plenty of time.

“The actual report was filed on time, and I don't believe I should be on that list,” said Rosemary Crawford of Hampton, a Democrat who's among 13 candidates for Allegheny County Common Pleas judge. She said only one page — and no crucial detail — was missing when a law firm filed her campaign finance report with the Department of State before the May 10 deadline.

Yet the department website lists her report as being three days late, prompting a $20 late fee.

Other judicial candidates running in Tuesday's primary had similar complaints.

Republican Bill McCabe of North Huntingdon, a candidate for Common Pleas judge in Westmoreland County, also faces a $20 late charge, but said he sent his disclosure report May 9. He said a mail receipt shows the state received the documents on May 13.

Reports postmarked by May 10 should be considered on time under department procedures, spokesman Ron Ruman said.

“If any reports postmarked by May 10 would arrive after the missed deadline, the report would be removed from the (past due) list,” Ruman wrote in an email.

He said the state can impose a $20 fine for each of the first six days that a report is late. The daily fines drop to $10 after that, up to a maximum of $250 per reporting cycle.

State law prohibits winning judicial candidates from taking office if they have any unpaid fines stemming from unfiled campaign finance reports.

Reports due May 10 in county judicial races should list each campaign's expenses and contributions from Jan. 1 to May 6, Ruman said.

Other Common Pleas candidates whose campaigns missed the deadline include: Barbara Ernsberger, Patrick Connelly, Marc Daffner and Marvin Leibowitz in Allegheny County; Blane Black, Mike Lucas and Lane Turturice in Washington County; and Joseph George Jr., Jack Purcell and Douglas Sepic in Fayette County, according to the State Department. It shows reports for Ernsberger, Black, Connelly, George, Leibowitz, Lucas, Purcell and Sepic were received within a few days of the deadline.

Black said his campaign had trouble with a state website when it tried to file electronically on May 8, then filed a paper copy on May 9. State workers indicated they “were kind of swamped with the filings,” he said.

Daffner's and Turturice's reports remained outstanding on Friday, data show. Turturice could not be reached, but Daffner said state election rules prevent judicial candidates from soliciting campaign money and from having direct oversight of the finance reports.

“As a judicial candidate with no oversight over the filing of the report, I can't tell you when it was filed or whether it was filed,” said Daffner of Green Tree. “I will certainly look into that and contact my treasurer.”

State data list problems with reports for two state Superior Court candidates: John T. McVay Jr., an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge, and Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. McVay's report lacked a notarized cover page, and Waters' was three days late, according to the state.

McVay vowed to fix any problems. Waters blamed his campaign's late filing on a miscommunication with staff.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com. Staff writers Bill Vidonic and Thomas Olson contributed to this report.

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