When WhatsUpNewp published a story recently listing campaign funds available for each of the City Council candidates, it did so only as a matter of information.
The figures came directly from reports each of the candidates filed with the state Board of Elections. The reports are public records.
In many elections the amount of money a candidate has available for legitimate campaign expenditures is important, as candidates seek to gain exposure through paid and unpaid media, printed brochures, campaign workers, and more.
In no way does having a considerable war chest mean that a candidate is good or bad. It is just what they have.
Our reporting, however, prompted one city council member to react, critical that we published what is public record.
Ward Three Councilor Kathryn Leonard wrote:
“I do not ask for campaign contributions. I give ALL people a voice—whether they have money or not. I feel that if people live here, there (their) thoughts should be considered. Newport is a special place. Most of us appreciate where we live or have property. My Motto has always been: Some people give time to help our community, such as Newport In Bloom, Friends of King Park, MLK Center, Newport Hospital Foundation, and volunteers, etc. Some people give money through Philanthropic gifts to many many non-profits to help people. Both are equally important. I recognize that.
“I feel fortunate that people wish to contribute to my campaign to keep the lines of communication open among all those who live here. My nickname has always been “The Bridge” building relationships among all people here—-year-round and summer residents. Again, some people give time. Some people give money. I promote the importance of both so Newport residents work together to help each other. I help raise funds for organizations for a reason—-to promote unity.
“I think your posting was not so nice. I feel that you should print my response. You should not be promoting class warfare. It is divisive.”
WhatsUpNewp was in no way promoting “class warfare.” All candidates have an equal opportunity to raise funds, and, in fact, many candidates throughout the state, from all income levels, have been able to raise significant funds to support their election efforts.
The Board of Elections confirmed today that the only campaign funds can only be used to support someone’s election campaign, can be donated to other candidates, can be donated to charities (broad definition), or returned to donors. No campaign funds can be used for personal expenses.