Durham campaign audit finds money discrepancy, questionable ‘investments

A $191,000 discrepancy exists between bank records and financial disclosures for Rep. Jeremy Durham’s main campaign finance account, according to a memo from the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance that’s part of an ongoing state investigation.

A further excerpt from The Tennessean report:

Bank records show Durham’s campaign account on March 31 had a balance of $6,857, according to the memo obtained by The Tennessean. But Durham’s first quarter financial disclosure, filed on June 6, states the campaign had $198,254.

“At this time a determination cannot be made as to the accuracy of Rep. Durham’s campaign balance due to investments, failure to report contributions and other transactions,” states the memo, dated Wednesday.

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, wouldn’t say whether the state found any illegal acts by Durham. But Tom Lawless, chairman of the board, said the memo raises questions.

“There are indications there may be some serious violations, and we want to garner the facts so we can take the appropriate remedies,” Lawless said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The registry, an entity within the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, started investigating Durham in June after the Tennessee attorney general provided a signed statement from a former campaign worker accusing Durham of using campaign funds for his private business.

…The memo outlines four different types of investments made with campaign funds. They include:

•Investing money from his campaign and political action committee accounts, along with his own money, in a company listed as “Company A.”

•Creating a $30,000 line of credit for himself from his campaign. The state says records show Durham has received $25,000 and paid back $15,000, with no indication of any interest paid.

•An apparent $29,800 loan from Durham’s campaign to “individual B.” The arrangement, outlined in an “unsigned promissory note,” was supposed to be for $23,800, including a 10 percent interest rate if the loan wasn’t paid back by Feb. 1.. Durham’s campaign wrote three checks in the fall of 2015 totaling $29,800 to “individual B” but no records indicate whether the loans have been re-paid.

•In December 2014, Durham’s campaign sent a $10,000 check to “company C” as an “investment.” The memo states there is “no documentation” for this money.

Those investments were all made with campaign funds, according to the memo. None of the transactions are listed on Durham’s campaign finance disclosures.