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Sat, Feb. 29

Wal-Mart opposition seeks hearing on $10,000 fine

PRESCOTT VALLEY - An attorney for a political action committee that lost an election to keep Wal-Mart from opening has requested a hearing before Town Attorney Ivan Legler to challenge a $10,000 fine for allegedly violating state campaign disclosure laws.

Legler scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m. July 12 in the Civic Center to enable Andrew Gordon to present his case on why the Protect Prescott Valley committee should not have to pay the fine.

While defending their positions, both Legler and Gordon expressed a willingness in their letters to reach a compromise on the fine. Legler wrote Gordon in a letter dated Friday: "In light of the considerable interest expressed by all parties (including the public and media) in having information about expenditures in time to potentially influence the mail

ballot election, I don't believe a resolution will be possible that minimizes the duty of either party to have issued a notice of passing the $10,000.00 threshold 'pre-election'. However, I do believe discussion of a settlement amount less than the proposed $10,000.00 penalty (which bears some relation to the settlement reached with Yes on 400) would be fruitful."

The latest exchanges between Legler and Gordon followed an order that Legler sent to Protect Prescott Valley June 13. Legler concluded after investigating a complaint from Friends of Prescott Valley, Yes on 400 that Protect exceeded the $10,000 spending threshold for the March 13 mail-only election without notifying Town Clerk Diane Russell within 24 hours.

Gordon disputed some of the spending in a letter dated Wednesday, contending that volunteers made telephone survey calls at no expense to the committee. He also questioned the $10,000 fine, stating a fine for exceeding the threshold by $251.45 should be three times that amount at $754.35.

Gordon's committee faced the threat of the fine weeks after Friends of Prescott Valley negotiated a $22,500 settlement with Legler's office to avoid paying a $30,000 fine.

That settlement followed complaints of campaign disclosure violations that Mike Vespoli, treasurer of Protect Prescott Valley, had filed with Russell's office. Friends in turn accused Protect Prescott Valley of violating the same disclosure requirements but on a smaller scale.

Friends prevailed at the polls by gaining 64 percent support of a Wal-Mart Supercenter opening on 19.5 acres off Lakeshore Drive and Glassford Hill Road.

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