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Spat over candidate financial reports
Billy Kitchings
Campaign contribution reports make for interesting reading, especially when they’re the contribution forms for Hinesville’s four mayoral candidates. And if the amount of cash a candidate’s campaign brings in could be correlated into percentage points, one mayoral hopeful is leading the pack by more than a few points.
Candidate Robert “Bob” Pirkle had raked in a total of $29,765 as of Sept. 30, the most recent campaign contribution disclosure report filing date, which is $17,000 more than his nearest opponent.
Contributions to the Pirkle campaign came from a number of local development companies, small business owners, lawyers and family members, as well as $12,000 from the candidate’s personal funds.
According to Pirkle’s list of $18,175.30 worth of expenditures, he spent more than $11,000 on advertisements, signs, auto magnets, stickers, fans, balloons and T-shirts.
He also spent $1,000 on food for two fundraisers, $1,500 in consultant fees to an Atlanta communications firm and donated $300 to the Hinesville Korean American Association.
Although some questions about the legality of contributions made to Pirkle’s campaign arose after copies of his campaign contribution disclosure report were handed out at a recent political forum, State Ethics Commission Executive Secretary Rick Thompson said no irregularities were found in his report.

Sampie Smith
But candidate Sampie Smith, found himself in trouble with the ethics commission after filing his disclosure report two weeks after the filing deadline.
Smith incurred a $75 fine that Thompson said has yet to be paid.
The former county commissioner said his failure to file the report came at a time when he was “worn out” from working and campaigning and he forgot about the filing deadline.
“I will write them a check for $75 ... I forgot,” Smith said when questioned Tuesday afternoon, adding two previous reports were turned in on time. “I was tardy and I take full responsibility.”
The late disclosure form showed Smith has hauled in a combined $8,632.35 in cash and in-kind contributions to his campaign, including $500 of his own money.
The owners of Malick’s and Zum Rosenhof, who have allowed Smith to use their property to post signs, have given in-kind contributions equaling $900 to his campaign.
The report also shows expenditures of $1,547.22 for decals, bumper stickers, signs, posters and metal stakes, $214 for magnetic signs and $670.89 for T-shirts.

Jim Thomas
According to the contribution report filed by Thomas, the runner-up to Pirkle in the fundraising race, the candidate brought in a total $12,383 by the end of September, due largely to support from donors in the business and medical community.
His list of expenses included $4,913.54 for a billboard, $800 for a campaign web site and $4,274.27 in magnetic signs, banners, shirts, signs and other advertisements.

Billy Kitchings
While Pirkle, Smith and Thomas each had money to spend after deducting their expenses, Billy Kitchings was the sole candidate to break even after giving $600.60 of his own funds to his campaign and spending the exact amount on qualifying fees and signs.

Next deadline
The next deadline for candidates to file campaign contribution disclosure reports is Oct. 25.

On the Web
To see a full breakdown of who contributed to the four mayoral candidates, check out the Coastal Courier blog, “I Would Like to Thank.” Feel free to leave comments about the candidates and/or their contributors.
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