A Scottsdale resident has filed a campaign finance complaint against a dark-money group supporting mayoral candidate Suzanne Klapp.
Lamar Whitmer filed the complaint with City Clerk Carolyn Jagger on July 27.
Whitmer alleges that a group called Scottsdale Residents Council failed to file with the city as an independent expenditure committee and file campaign finance reports as required by state law.
The Scottsdale Residents Council sent mailers to residents to influence in support of Klapp’s candidacy.
Whitmer, a consultant paid by the Committee for the Preservation of Old Town Scottsdale PAC that opposed Southbridge Two, has donated to the campaign of mayoral candidate Lisa Borowsky.
Klapp voted in favor of Southbridge Two when it passed the City Council on 4-3 vote in December 2019.
On July 26, the Progress reported that some Scottsdale voters received a mailer from Scottsdale Residents Council urging them to support Klapp and made dubious claims criticizing two fellow candidates, Councilwoman Virginia Korte and Bob Littlefield.
Whitmer included photos of two additional mailers from Scottsdale Residents Council with his complaint, including one that explicitly supports Klapp but makes no mention of other candidates.
Klapp told the Progress her campaign has not coordinated with the Scottsdale Residents Council.
“As clearly defined by law, a candidate or a candidate’s committee cannot coordinate with these independent groups,” she said. “My mailers and other marketing materials are clearly identified as paid by my campaign committee Vote Suzanne Klapp and its reported donors and authorized by me.”
Hours after Whitmer filed the complaint on July 27, an attorney for Scottsdale Residents Council submitted a campaign finance report to the city just ahead of the deadline.
Reports detailing pre-election expenditures between July 1 and July 18 were due on July 27.
The report showed that the Scottsdale Residents Council spent $19,013 on the two mailers supporting Klapp during that time.
Attorney Thomas Basile told Jagger the group made no expenditures in the election prior to July 1.
Basile told the Progress that the Scottsdale Residents Council is a non-profit social welfare organization and was not required to register as a political committee.
“It’s a ridiculous complaint… SRC has always complied fully with campaign finance laws, and we’re confident that this complaint will be quickly dismissed,” Basile said.
Records on file with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office show that “Scottsdale Residents Council” is a trade name registered by the Arizona Residents Council, an Arizona nonprofit.
Basile said the report filed July 27 satisfied the group’s legal requirement to disclose independent expenditures.
But Whitmer said the group is required to register with the city, because Scottsdale Residents Council itself is a trade name and not a nonprofit.
“I don’t think that holds water,” Whitmer said. “Had they done it under the guise of Arizona Residents Council, they’d be fine, but they didn’t.”
“They chose a fake name, and I believe that makes them subject to (registering as a) committee,” Whitmer added.
The Arizona Residents Council is operated by Scottsdale residents Robert Dwyer, George Plescia and William Conner, according to Corporation Commission records.
Campaign finance reports show that group was last active in 2014 when it spent $9,820 in Republican state legislative primaries in LD 18, which includes Chandler and Ahwatukee.
Dwyer is president of Dominion Real Estate Partners and Dominion Real Estate Investments, according to his Linkedin profile and Arizona Corporation Commission records.
Plescia owns a Growler USA franchise in Phoenix and is a former a former Republican California state assemblyman, according to a 2016 article in Phoenix Business Journal.
The Progress was unable to locate information about Conner’s background.