East Cobb cityhood committee fined $5k for campaign finance violations

Oct. 22—A ballot committee which supported the unsuccessful East Cobb cityhood movement in the May primary election has been fined $5,000 by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

The fine was levied after the ethics commission found the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb violated state campaign finance law by not filing a campaign contribution disclosure report 15 days before the election.

In a consent order approved by the commission last month, the committee agreed to pay the fine and make the required disclosures. Cityhood committee president Craig Chapin signed off on the order.

Before voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed city, its opponents had charged that the cityhood committee was illegally hiding its financial backers.

Bob Lax, a cityhood opponent, filed a complaint with the ethics commission in May.

At the time, cityhood advocates argued the committee’s status as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization meant it was not required to file such a disclosure. The ethics commission disagreed.

State law requires that groups advocating for or against a ballot question, such as cityhood, must register as a ballot committee with the ethics commission, if they raise or spend more than $500. Pro- and anti-cityhood groups are also required to file a contribution report 15 days before the election. The Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb didn’t comply with either of those rules, commission staff found.

Commission staff reported in the consent…

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