|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - March 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Primary election expenses still unpaid
Polk County Enterprise - March 2009
LIVINGSTON – The Polk County Democratic Party still hasn’t paid the $15,018.22 it owes the county for the primary election held in March 2008. Offi cials with the Secretary of State’s (SOS) offi ce confi rmed Wednesday that Polk County Democratic Party Chairman Sharon Teal’s initial fi ling of required documents and reports was received Feb. 20, some seven months after the offi ce’s deadline. Teal said Tuesday that she had just recently fi led the reports and that — while she had reasons for the delay — there was no excuse. This confl icts with a statement Teal made in December – “I fi led my budgets and reports as required. They have gone in twice and been returned twice,” she said. However, at that time Dan Glotzer, Election Funds Manager at the SOS, said his offi ce had no record of a single report fi led by the Polk County Democratic Party for this election cycle. Teal’s claims Tuesday that “many, many counties” had not received reimbursement from the SOS were rebutted by Ashley Burton, Deputy Director of Communications. Seventeen of the state’s 254 counties had not fi led as of Feb. 10, including Polk County, whose submission has now been received, but the rest of the counties have fi led and received reimbursement according to SOS reports. Burton also said that Teal’s claims that the SOS is “understaffed and out of money” are not accurate. Teal also claimed that Houston County was still waiting for reimbursement and that Titus County had fi led in July but still hasn’t received reimbursement.
According to SOS reports, Houston County had not fi led their initial reports as of Feb. 10 and Titus County received its reimbursement, “in the fall.” Houston County Clerk Bridget Lamb said Tuesday that they [Houston County] do not handle the election and that no money is owed to the county by either party. Houston County is among 77 counties in Texas that have an elections administrator overseeing voter registration and handling election logistics. Teal and the Polk County Democratic Party received $10,785 from the state in January to defray costs associated with the primary election. Teal said she used this money to pay election workers and the rest of the money remains in the party’s account. Primary expenses are shared between state funds and candidate filing fees. Party chairmen in each county receive funds from the Secretary of State’s Office as allowed by the legislature. The state provides 75 percent of the estimated cost of the primary up front to the county chair.
This amount is determined by the expenses from the previous election cycle minus filing fees. Candidates seeking countywide or precinct level office pay filing fees directly to the county chairman. Those who appear on the ballot from the District Judge level on up file with the state party officials. The matter has been forwarded to District Attorney Lee Hon’s office for investigation. “This is not the first time we’ve had this problem with the Democratic Party or its chair,” Hon said. In 2006, Hon’s office took legal action to compel Teal to repay the county. Teal said that she took out a personal loan to pay that debt while she continued to wait for reimbursement. Assistant District Attorney Mike Matthews said Tuesday that his office has been in contact with the SOS’s office but that no legal action has been taken. Matthews also confirmed that the SOS had received an initial fax of the required reports a “week or so ago.” In contrast, the Polk County Republican Party filed its final report May 8, according to records with the Secretary of State’s Office. Middleton said party chair Benny Fogleman made an initial deposit to the county before the primary and paid the final balance within two weeks of his receipt of reimbursement from the state.