Brock defends charges filedAdam Mangold not charged after receiving campaign contribution
When four defendants learned they had been charged with campaign ethics violations on July 27, Washington County Supervisor Adam Mangold was not among them.
The Committee to Elect Adam Mangold reported a donation from a corporation on his May 19 campaign disclosure report. According to Iowa law, a candidate may not receive contributions from a corporation.
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock said he knew of the contribution to Mangold when he charged the four defendants in July. He said he did not charge Mangold because Mangold had already returned the money.
Mangold’s May 19 campaign disclosure report shows he received a check from Thompson’s Rx Inc., a corporation in Washington, on April 6. His disclosure report from July 19 shows that the contribution was returned July 16, more than three months later, and 11 days before Brock filed charges against Bob Yoder, Jack Seward Jr., Priscilla Marlar and Custom Impressions.
Brock said in an interview Tuesday that he did not charge Mangold because he would have had to prove Mangold willfully violated the law, and he said that the fact Mangold returned the money meant that the intent to violate the law was lacking. Brock said he would have prosecuted Mangold had Mangold not returned the money.
In an interview with The Journal on July 30, Brock said that, in addition to reviewing the disclosure statements of Yoder, Seward and Marlar, he also reviewed the statements of candidates Kay Ciha, Richard Gilmore, Stan Stoops, Wesley Rich and Mangold, and found no actionable items.
Yoder was charged with unlawfully transferring money to a political action committee, Free County, on May 24. After Yoder learned of the charges against him, he asked Free County to return the $1,400 he gave it, which the organization did.
During Yoder’s trial in September, Brock said the fact that Free County returned the money to Yoder did not erase the fact that Yoder unlawfully transferred it in the first place.
Seward was accused of willfully violating election law by accepting a $75 donation from Custom Impressions Inc. in Washington. Seward received the donation on an invoice from Custom Impressions on May 17. Seward returned the money to Custom Impressions as soon as he learned of the charges, but the charges were not dropped against him.
Attorney Barbara Edmondson, who represented Seward and Yoder in their respective trials, said in an interview, “Jack Seward Jr., Bob Yoder, and the others were innocent of any crime, and charges never should have been filed. The jury verdicts speak for themselves. It was appropriate for the charges against Priscilla Marlar and Custom Impressions to be dismissed.”
In a motion Edmondson filed in Yoder’s case in August, she wrote that Yoder credibly believed that the charge against him was filed out of improper motives, and not for the reason that a crime was committed. Edmondson’s motion also mentioned that the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board was auditing Brock’s campaign concerning $551 in unitemized contributions he received during a fundraiser.
Megan Tooker, director of the Iowa Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board, said neither she nor her auditors have any record of corresponding with Mangold about this particular check. Mangold said he did not need to consult with the campaign ethics board after receiving the check from Thompson’s Rx because he was already familiar with election law. Tooker said that, had she known of the original check from Thompson’s, she would have simply instructed Mangold to return the money without taking the matter to her board.
The campaign ethics board can only issue fines, while only the county attorney’s office can prosecute violators in court.
Criminal prosecution requires a higher standard of proof than civil punishment. Tooker said that, to obtain a criminal conviction, a county attorney has the burden of proof to show that the defendant knowingly violated the law. Tooker’s board does not need to prove intent in order to issue a fine. She said that fines are usually reserved for candidates who violate the law repeatedly or who ignore requests to correct their mistakes.
When asked in an interview Tuesday why he returned the $50 to Thompson’s Rx, Mangold said, “I returned the money because I knew it was an improper contribution. For whatever reason, we had a delay in getting it back.”
Jon Thompson, owner of Thompson’s Rx Inc., said that he was unaware corporations could not contribute to campaigns at the time he wrote the check. He said that Mangold contacted him shortly after Mangold received the check to inform him he couldn’t accept it and that he would have to return it. Thompson said he did not remember when Mangold returned the money, but remembered that Mangold did return it.
Mangold said he was not worried about being prosecuted because he never accepted the check.
“I know the difference between accepting a check and receiving a check,” he said. “You can’t help what you get in the mail. It’s what you do with it after you get it in the mail that matters.”