Pratt finance confusion resolved

Preliminary questions into acting Mayor Marvin Pratt's campaign finance reports have been answered, according to Michael Spang, an auditor hired to investigate the reports.

For the reporting period of July 1, 2003, to Dec. 31, 2003, there was an $116,174 discrepancy between the amount of cash the campaign reported it had, and what was in the bank.

The campaign put $100,000 into the bank as a cash deposit about a year and a half ago, Spang said. There was one $50,000 deposit and $50,000 in smaller deposits. The $50,000 deposit matured, and was moved back into the campaign fund. The treasurer should have only reported the interest as new money, but instead listed the whole sum, putting the campaign up $50,000.

In addition, when filing the report, the campaign treasurer reported the $50,000 still in cash deposit as campaign money. However, the treasurer did not attach the savings account statements. The money was not listed in the campaign checking account statements reporters looked at initially, so it looked like the campaign reported having $100,000 more than it had in the bank.

The remaining $16,174 Spang explained in two ways. First, he said, "The campaign incurred certain bank fees not reported as an expense. Campaigns are allowed to deduct" the fees. So the money was spent, but not reported.

When asked if these could be described as "rookie mistakes," Spang said: "I would just not say this was done by a" certified public accountant.

Further, Pratt put $40,084 of his own money into the campaign fund. But this also has been problematic for Pratt.

"Now, some of these expenses did end up on the report, many did not," Spang said. The report listed $17,628 as campaign expenses paid by Pratt. Spang adjusted the figure by $22,455, based on Pratt's personal checks.

"The mayor or anyone is allowed to donate any amount of money to their own campaign," Spang said. "That's what he did."

Spang said the campaign will soon file an amendment to the report, adjusted to reflect the new findings. Reporters at the conference asked campaign spokesman Greg Wesley if the treasurer responsible for the errors was still on staff.

Spang "will assist the campaign" in filing the amended report, Wesley said. "The mayor or the treasurer has to sign the report. The mayor will sign the report." When asked if that meant the treasurer was or was not still on staff, Wesley repeated himself.

Wesley reiterated Pratt's statement from earlier in the week, taking full responsibility for the flawed report.

Spang said he could not comment on whether or not he shared his findings with the District Attorney's office. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the office was conducting a secret "John Doe" investigation into the matter. District Attorney Michael McCann did not return calls for comment.

The questions surrounding Pratt's finances were initially raised by former aldermanic candidate Steven Kraeger when he filed a complaint Feb. 19 questioning Pratt's campaign finance reports stretching back to 1999.

"I was asked by the campaign to look at all prior reports also," Spang said. "I haven't gotten to that yet."

"We intend to do a thorough review of all previous campaign finance reports before" the April 6 election, Wesley said.