On February 22, Jim Moore, a supporter of two-time City Council candidate Kenneth Jackson, sent out a Facebook message to a long list of recipients titled “Help Ken,” seeking payment from supporters for an overdue $2,000 loan to avoid taking Jackson to court on March 20 (after C-VILLE went to press).
“In desperation to purchase TV time, Ken asked me to lend him $2,000 against the $2,545 balance in the account,” Moore wrote. Jackson and his partner signed a personal note, but, so far, says Moore, he hasn’t received any payment.
Moore set up a GoFundMe to collect on the debt, but after complaints from other supporters, he disabled the account.
A campaign finance report indicated that as of the end of the reporting period on November 30, 2017, a $2,000 loan made by Moore to the campaign on October 31 had a zero balance, according to Rosanna Bencoach, Charlottesville’s general registrar. She says there is no entry for loans repaid on that report, “so this may be in error.”
Bencoach also told C-VILLE that Jackson’s campaign finance filing for December reports that the loan from Moore was repaid on December 12.
Moore says the loan has not been repaid.
Other odd information appears in Jackson’s campaign finance reports. One donor, allegedly named “Mary Mary,” donated $700 and lists her occupation as “horse.”
When political donations are collected in Virginia for a non-federal campaign, campaigns are required to collect the name, home address and occupation of the donor. Fundraising campaigns on Gofundme.com do not typically collect home addresses or occupations.
At least two GoFundMe accounts were created in connection with the campaign: one that raised money directly for Jackson’s campaign last fall, and Moore’s short-lived effort to collect on his loan.
According to Rick Sincere, a former long-time member of the Charlottesville Board of Elections as well as the one-time chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, this form of fundraising may potentially be a violation of campaign finance laws.
“Using GoFundMe to raise campaign money is probably illegal, just as ‘passing the hat’ at an event would be, since you can’t properly trace the source of the donation for attribution to a particular donor or determine whether the source of funds is a foreign national, for instance,” Sincere says.
Moore says it was never his intention to run afoul of campaign law.
On the Facebook group page, he wrote, “OK. I’m sorry for this. I apologize and will remove this campaign. I let my frustration turn into vengeance. Please be aware that I did this with much advance notice and full knowledge by Ken.”
Says Moore, “I made a personal loan and I am disappointed it wasn’t repaid.”
Jackson, who says he had nothing to do with Moore’s loan collection efforts, first ran for City Council as the Republican nominee in 2003 and lost in the general election. He ran again as an independent last year and lost amid questions about other campaign finance irregularities.
The Charlottesville native says he’s through with the city.
“I should also inform you that I have no intention of moving back to Charlottesville nor seeking public office there,” says Jackson, who now lives near Farmville. “It has no longer become the home I knew and loved. Now it is just a hate-filled city focusing on things and not people who are the citizens.”
The city used to be a community not divided by race, color, religion or gender, he says. “That city no longer exists for me.”
Clarifications March 26: Jackson was identified as a conservative in the original story, but says he’s a fiscal conservative, and is not conservative on social issues.
Jackson says the campaign report he filed that listed contributor “Mary, Mary” with occupation “horse” was corrected within 24 hours. However, “Mary, Mary” still appears on a state campaign finance report.