Exclusive: Hank Erwin's Money Mess
I'm told the story will make the mainstream press any day now and ethics charges will be filed in the very near future.
The basic arc of the story is this: Erwin used money from his campaign account for obviously personal expenditures.
The interesting thing about these charges is that most of the potentially damning information is already a matter of public record. That is, many of the violations that will be alleged can be viewed by anyone with a computer via the Secretary of State's website.
Search Erwin's filings and draw your own conclusions. But from conversations with those in the know and my own perusal of his filings, I think I can identify a few expense items that are likely to be sources of upcoming attention:
-- A 10/30/2002 payment of $2,354 to "BJF Programs" for an "Israel fact finding trip".
-- Two payments on consecutive nights in July 2003 for international hotel accommodations. One for $311 in Brussels and one for $645 in Romania.
-- A $207 tab at Los Angeles' Toscona restaurant in September 2003 for a "film preservation lunch".
Erwin's expenditures on football tickets, restaurants, and other amenities might also come under scrutiny. Also it's possible that issues of payments to family members might arise.
Now I am obviously not an attorney or overly familiar with the campaign finance statutes, but many of these items don't seem to be comply with the spirit of the campaign finance law. And some who know more than I, believe these expenses go further than that and actually violate the actual letter of the law.
This is definitely a story to watch, as I'm told it will develop in the media (radio, print) in the days to come. Unfortunately for Hank Erwin this story doesn't look to have a happy ending.
Tomorrow I'll continue with this story, including exclusive polling and information regarding the potential fallout in Erwin's State Senate district.