With less than three weeks until election day, challengers to Supervisor Robert H. Giza for Lancaster's top position have found themselves battling allegations of negligence in reporting campaign finance statements.
Supporters of Giza's campaign for a second two-year term in the job, which paid $52,397 this year, this week accused Republican candidate Arthur J. Rago Jr. and Lancaster Independence Party candidate Henry R. Gull of breaking Erie County Board of Election rules about the reporting of funds in campaign accounts.
Rago countered by arguing Thursday that his campaign account money was reported on Oct. 9, six days after the county's Oct. 3 deadline.
Marjory Jaeger, who tracks local GOP campaign finances for the Board of Elections, confirmed that Rago reported late but within the "window of time" extended to town candidates. Rago has about $1,000 in his campaign account at the current time, Ms. Jaeger said.
"The big thing is, it was filed. If it was not filed, that would be a problem, but it was filed," said Rago, who added that his campaign spending has totaled between $1,500 and $2,000 so far, most for nearly 500 signs and an upcoming series of three mailings to 14,000 homes in the town.
"You've got to remember that the Republican Party is rebuilding in Lancaster. . . . We're the underdogs," said Rago, who is running for office for the first time. "This is coming out of my pocket."
Gull, also a political newcomer, said he has not yet filed his campaign finance statements with the county.
"I'm not justifying that inaction on being new, but there is a good deal of that involved," he said. "It's grass roots. We're new. We're people-powered."
James Guenther, campaign manager for Gull, said that the party plans to file statements with the county after the election is over. "When we get all done, we're going to be spending less than $4,000," he said. "There's very little expense, because outside of the expense for (ads in) the paper, most of it has been done by hand."
According to Guenther, funds have gone toward three weeks' worth of ads in a community newspaper and close to 100 hand-painted lawn signs.
"We haven't filed it yet, but we're putting it together," Guenther said. "I don't see any breaking of rules or regulations here. . . . We're not a high-finance campaign here. We're waiting until after the election. I see nothing wrong in not filing at this time."
In Giza's camp, local Democratic Committee treasurer Ed Krafchak and Friends of Bob Giza organizer Jean Fialkiewicz said that their financial reports were submitted to the county prior to the deadline, a claim confirmed by county records.
Ms. Fialkiewicz said that her committee has spent less than $2,000 so far, with about $3,800 remaining in fund accounts, most collected from a fund-raising dinner last month. Krafchak said the Democratic Committee has about $6,000 left in its accounts after spending about $9,600 on campaigns for all of the party's candidates in the upcoming elections.
Giza said his latest campaign expenditure, paid for by the Friends of Bob Giza committee, is $600 for three weeks worth of premovie ads at a Transit Road multiplex. Running 2,100 times a week, the movie ads are a better bargain than a cable television spot he bought two years ago for more than $2,000, Giza said.