BERLIN – State’s Attorney candidate Beau Oglesby was told this week he needed to refund his active campaign account the $2,000 he paid to a local printer for debt dating back four years ago.
According to a letter from Jared DeMarinis, director of the State Board of Elections’ Division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance, Oglesby needs to reimburse his candidate campaign committee because the debt stems from the 2006 election and not his current bid for office. Oglesby lost to State’s Attorney Joel Todd in the closest election in recent history back in November of 2006.
The letter reportedly stemmed from an inquiry by Oglesby’s attorney, Hugh Cropper IV, on whether it was permissible to pay the disputed debt from his active campaign account.
In July of 2010, Oglesby submitted a $2,000 check to Ace Printing & Mailing owner Thom Gulyas as a payment toward an approximate $6,000 balance from 2006 election materials. Gulyas reportedly gave Oglesby 90 days to pay the entire balance and when he did not, he filed a small claims court lawsuit.
Demarinis, after consultation with the state’s Attorney General’s office, opined it was a mistake for Oglesby to use his 2010 campaign account to fund an expense from 2006.
“… since no direct nexus exists between the expenditure and your current candidacy and the expenditure frustrates the intent of your supporters, Citizens for Beau Oglesby may not disburse funds towards the disputed past debts of the candidate,” the letter read. “Additionally, any disbursements already made by [Citizens for Beau Oglesby] to Ace Printing & Mailing resulting from the 2006 election, specifically, the disputed bill and subsequent legal action against you, individually, must be reimbursed to the committee by you within 30 days of the date of the letter [Sept. 21].”
When reached yesterday, Oglesby said he was pleased to have the uncertain matter cleared up by the state.
“I’m glad that aspect of it has been decided, as far as the issues regarding campaign finance. I’m looking forward to our day in court to deal with the allegations made by Mr. Gulyas,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby referred further questions to Cropper, who confirmed he brought the matter to the state board’s attention. When asked if the letter was to be interpreted as a violation of state campaign finance laws, Cropper said that’s not how he sees it.
“We were proactive and reached out to them and asked for guidance on how to handle it,” Cropper said. “I’m not aware of any violation or penalty or fine or any allegation that anything was violated. I reached out to them and told them Mr. Oglesby already paid $2,000 and to find out if we were in a position to pay more, theoretically, how would that be handled and where should that check be written from.”
Cropper said Oglesby does plan to reimburse the active campaign account the $2,000 he paid out, as stipulated in the letter.
After the small claims lawsuit was filed, Oglesby, who pointed out Gulyas is supporting Todd’s re-election campaign, said it had little merit and was politically driven.
Oglesby said Gulyas told him back in 2006 the campaign materials would be donated by him and his wife.
“Thom and [wife] Belinda made a generous donation to my campaign, and I was shocked to learn that a year later he was asking for his donation back, in effect,” said Oglesby in a statement. “Despite our prior agreement which created no legal obligation to replay the additional money, I decided that I would refund his donation from my new account as soon as it became active.”
Gulyas said there was never such an agreement in place between he and Oglesby, who he did support for State’s Attorney four years ago, and that he simply wants to be paid for the service provided.