Birmingham mayoral candidate accused of ethics violations during campaign
With the mayoral election for Alabama's largest city starting in less than 24 hours, voters are preparing to cast their ballots for the top seat at Birmingham's City Hall. In the lead up to election day, the candidates have been scrambling to curry the favor of undecided voters.
Amid the election shuffle, citizens are looking at the crowded field of candidates with increased scrutiny and current Jefferson County Commissioner and mayoral hopeful, Lashunda Scales, has been the subject of a recent ethics complaint filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission.
Photo from 2013 arrest (c/o Jefferson County Jail)
According to a report from Alabama Political Reporter, Birmingham businessman Donald E. Baylor filed the complaint against the commissioner, alleging that the Scales campaign violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act which requires political advertisements to identify and display the name(s) of any entities that paid for the advertisement.
Baylor's complaint accuses Scales of intentionally violating campaign finance reporting laws by attempting to hide the source of funding for campaign yard signs and billboards. Although several of Scales' advertisements include the following language, "Paid Political Advertisement by Friends to Elect Lashunda Scales For Mayor of Birmingham," Baylor notes in his complaint that Scales' campaign finance reports do not include records of any payments to billboard companies or yard sign printers.
“Scales and the Scales’ Campaign finance report fail to note any expenditures that might account for the yard signs and billboards scattered across Birmingham, though representing that they had been paid for by Scales and the Scales Campaign,” the ethics complaint reads.
A report from Alabama Political Reporter suggests that a separate political action committee, Restore Birmingham, was the actual source of funding for Scales' yard signs and billboards. Campaign finance reports from Restore Birmingham do show expenditures for political advertisements related to the Scales campaign.
This is not the first time Scales has found herself on the wrong side of an ethics investigation. The Jefferson County commissioner was also the subject of a 2011 ethics complaint alleging that she had used police resources to intimidate a business owner with whom she had a private dispute. In 2013, Scales was indicted on two felony charges and six counts of using her office for personal gain. The 2013 case was related, in part, to the 2011 ethics complaint against the politician. Scales ultimately plead guilty to two misdemeanors and served a year of probation after the prosecuting attorney dropped the felony charges, which would have required her removal from office.
If Scales is found guilty of violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act, she may be subject to a $50-$200 fine for each violation.