Campaign finance panel fines DeKalb commissioners Sutton, Watson
By JIM WALLS
DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton failed to disclose more than $101,000 in contributions to her campaigns in 2006 and 2008. For that, she agreed Friday to pay a $2,500 fine.
Commissioner Stan Watson also agreed to a $1,500 fine Friday for holding a 2008 campaign fund-raiser while the state Legislature, of which he was then a member, was still in session.
Sutton did not file four campaign finance reports in 2008 until December that year, after she had won the election and after a state investigation was under way. The disclosures, once filed, showed she had received $93,000 in donations, many from developers, attorneys and contractors seeking favorable treatment from DeKalb government.
Two years earlier, when she lost a race for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Sutton failed to file several campaign disclosures. The reports show she’s collected more than $8,000 in donations when she filed them with the other late disclosures in 2008.
Sutton said she did not intend to violate campaign finance law, according to a consent order approved Friday by the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission.
Watson, in his consent order, admitted holding a fund-raiser for his campaign for DeKalb CEO in March 2008 — five says before the session closed — and accepting donations earlier in the session. Legislators may not accept campaign contributions while the General Assembly is meeting.
Watson was not fined for spending four times as much on his March 2008 fund-raiser as he received in contributions.
In other consent orders signed Friday:
- Former state Rep. John Lunsford admitted that he twice failed to file a disclosure of his personal finances, as well as a 2006 campaign disclosure. He was fined $300.
- State Rep. Jay Neal acknowledged failing to file a personal financial disclosure for 2006 and leaving required information off a second. The commission fined him $400.