Steve Ortega Under reported $40K

Something has been bothering me about the Steve Ortega campaign finance reports. They just do not add up. As I sat down to review them, I wanted to check my numbers once again so I went to the Municipal Clerk’s office and lo-and-behold Steve Ortega had filed not one, but two amendments to his initial filings. The amendments were filed after Election Day. Bottom line, the Steve Ortega Campaign under reported approximately $40,000 in campaign contributions before Election Day.

Before Election Day he reports $242,344.88 in political contributions. After Election Day he amends his reports to report $282,460.38 in contributions.

Was this on purpose?

According to the amended reports, the reason for the amendments was that on “May 6th, the COH identified discrepancies regarding the total contributions and total expenditures previously filed.” In other words, he forgot to add some contributions and expenses to his reports.

What were those contributions he forgot to add?

Nothing too important, just $40,000 in additional contributions he conveniently forgot to report, before election night.

As if that wasn’t enough, the amended report for the last period before the election seems to have been passed through so many Xerox machines that it makes it extremely difficult to read the report. In this age of electronics it is just too convenient that an important report that begs to be analyzed is extremely difficult to read. And that’s not everything. The amended report’s math just doesn’t add up.

The fact is numbers don’t lie, although people do.

Even before realizing that the Steve Ortega Campaign under-reported $40,115.50 going into the election, his financials just did not add up. In school, granted it was before computers, I was taught that two plus two equals four. Unfortunately in the Steve Ortega political contributions this math just doesn’t work. I may just be too dumb.

Focusing on the amended reports filed by Steve Ortega, yesterday on May 16, 2013 I applied some simple mathematics. According to the filings, Steve Ortega took in the following in the form of contributions:

In the July 16, 2012 to December 31, 2012 (January 15), report Steve Ortega reported $54,385 in political contributions. According to this report, he spent $12,905.37.

In the January 1, 2013 to April 1, 2013 (30-day) report, Steve Ortega reported $80,774.88 in political contributions and $36,251.11 in expenditures.

In the April 1, 2013 to May 1, 2013 (8-day) report, Steve Ortega reported $147,300.50 in political contributions and $201,296.49 in expenditures.

Since there was no report filed by Steve Ortega prior to the July 16, 2012 to December 31, 2012 period, I assume his campaign started at $0. I did review the last report he filed as a City Representative and it only showed $11.47 available to him. So my premise of starting at zero still holds.

Based on my basis of starting at zero, I add the contributions for the three reporting periods ($54,385+$80,774.88+$147,300.50) and I get a total of $282,460.30 for his campaign.

I then do the same with the expenditures ($12,905.37+36,251.11+201,296.49) and I get $250,452.97 in monies out going.

Now I take the income, $282,460.30 and subtract his expenses of $250,452.97 and I get a balance of $32,007.33.

According to the final financial report he filed, the amended one, Steve Ortega reports that he has $23,496.24 still available to him. What happened to $8,511.09 that does not appear as money still available to him?

I have owned and operated a restaurant and several retail stores. My number one rule for my cashiers was that the cash register tally should equal zero at the end of the day. This was a rule set in stone and when a discrepancy appeared there had better be a good explanation.

One of the arguments I was constantly challenged with was why, are you upset? The cash register shows more money than it should have. My answer was always the same; the cash register should always be in balance, not more and not less. Why?

Simple, if you allow the cashier to monkey around with how they handle giving change then you allow them to pocket money. Skimming one dollar here and another one there always resulted in an out-of-balance cash register. The scam works like this, cashier’s play a scam where they knowingly shortchange customers on their change. To keep everyone happy they put in some of the money in the cash register and pocket the rest. If a customer objects, they apologize and give them the correct change. They just add more from the next skim. At the end of the day, the cash register will never balance but most scheming cashiers are happy to report that they got more money in the register so that the owner doesn’t scrutinize the cashier. To me two plus two should equal four. Anything else is a scam, as far as I’m concerned.

So why doesn’t Steve Ortega’s financial reports add up? And why did he file amendments for the two reports that were scrutinized by the public before the election?

Was this a simple problem of forgetting something?

The fact that Steve Ortega amended both financial disclosure reports after Election Day that showed that he actually took in $40,115.50 more in contributions than he initially reported is troublesome, at best. This wasn’t a simple case of forgetting some contributions or expenditures. The adjustment represents about 14% of his total contributions to date.

This is a significant amount, and one that conveniently benefits him. Hmm.

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