Savannah mayor pushes back against campaign finance concerns

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach
Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach(WTOC)
Updated: Oct. 30, 2019 at 4:08 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach did refund all excess contributions, according to campaign contribution reports requested by WTOC. The refunds were all dated Oct. 24 or 35, which is before the deadline.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach pushed back against claims he broke campaign finance laws in the run-up to the election.

A group that runs a website called “Transparent Savannah” released its version of campaign finance numbers on several candidates running next week. At least one of those women openly supports Van Johnson, an opponent of DeLoach’s.

WTOC is tracking those numbers, too. We have gotten copies of all 2019 reports filed as of Sept. 30. The mayor has raised over $230,000 since 2016 according to his most recent filing. He has just over $100,000 in the bank.

The issue at hand here is whether individual contributors exceeded the $2,800 they’re allowed to give in each election cycle; the cycle is from 2016 to now. The mayor’s campaign said they paid back donors who did give too much ahead of Friday’s deadline to file his final campaign contribution and expenditure report. That report has not been filed with the clerk of council at last check.

“Mayor DeLoach is honored by the strong support from hundreds of citizens who want to continue moving Savannah forward with strong leadership and positive change. He looks forward to acting on that good faith to deliver another four years of historic results for every family across Savannah,” said Caitlin O’Dea, DeLoach’s campaign manager. “Our campaign refunded all inadvertent excess contributions earlier this reporting period, and those corrective measures will be reflected in our upcoming financial disclosure report.”

Holly Smith is the director of filing and compliance with the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission. The agency monitors campaign contributions for the all cities and counties in Georgia. She said just because donors exceeded the max amount, that doesn’t necessarily mean any laws were broken.

The law is not as black and white on this, according to Smith. What is clear is that the mayor, or any candidate, must reimburse donors any amount over $2,800. Without looking at the specific situation, she could not say if any violations have been committed.

Once again that final report is due by this Friday, November 1st. Once it comes out, we’ll be sure to review that data and share any updates.

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