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As Long as We Remember...

Hagen's Spending Questionable

November 3, 2006

I have been looking at the campaign finance reports of the County Commissioner candidates. I've looked more at the expenditures than the contribution sources.

One candidate, Kai Hagen, stands out for his expenditures and how he has used his contributors' money. He has a paid campaign manager. No other commissioner candidate has a paid manager.

If any of the candidates could justify a paid campaign manager it would be the incumbent commissioners. As I understand it the commissioner position is far from a part time occupation. And these people have had months of forums, dinners and other appearances, plus their appearances as county representatives.

Few other candidates have paid people to help them. Commissioner (Mike) Cady has paid $1,930 for people to erect signs. Commissioner (John L. "Lennie") Thompson has paid $150 to a person to hang and remove the banners on the skywalk on South Carroll Street. He also paid $100 to his daughter to do a radio commercial.

Since the start of the campaign, Kai Hagen has received $37,763 from contributors as of the October 27 reporting date. This is real cash, not in-kind contributions. So far he has paid $10,000 for a manager.

Kai Hagen has also paid $1,098 for cell phone use. No other candidate has charges like that. He has paid $455.73 of contributor's money for campaign meetings with staff and volunteers. Again, unusual.

The majority of candidates are very frugal with their contributors' money but not Kai Hagen. Most of their funds are spent on signs, newspaper ads, and radio commercials.

This is from a person who has 18 years worth of experience with political campaigns, fundraising services and running non-profit organizations. It just doesn't seem like a person with this experience and without a full time demanding job would need a campaign manager!

More than a quarter of every contributor's dollar to the Hagen campaign is spent for items that I consider questionable and not normal.

Is this the kind of person that we want deciding on how our tax dollars are spent the next four years?

Gil House, Urbana

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