The group whose TV commercial blasted Republican Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings as a Democratic lapdog produced some trouble for Charlie Spano.
Spano ran unsuccessfully against Cummings for the Republican county commissioner nomination in 2015 and lost to Ken McDowell for Scranton tax collector in 2005, but he has always stayed politically active.
In this latest commissioner election, Spano gave $9,650 — spread over five contributions between April 1 and May 6 — to Lackawanna Citizens for Trust and Leadership. That’s the political action committee organized in 2015 by Aileen Freeman and her son, Rick, the the former editor and publisher of The Villager in North Pocono.
Only Spano gave the PAC cash. The Freemans contributed no cash and only made in-kind contributions — they spent $3,177.32 to develop and air the ad.
Bob Bolus, the businessman, political gadfly and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump and Cummings, smelled something funny and complained to the county Board of Elections.
“Mr. Spano is known as a retired teacher,” Bolus wrote.
Well, he’s not “known as a retired teacher,” he is a retired teacher.
“He ran for office previously and admitted financial issues related to a divorce some time ago,” he said.
Yes, he ran for office, but Spano remains happily married.
“Mr. Spano also gave approximately $1,000 directly to the Chermak/Giannetta campaign and he and his wife gave $1,000 to Michael Giannetta,” Bolus wrote. “This would mean that he contributed a total of over $12,000.”
That’s Chris Chermak and Scott Supervisor Mike Giannetta, who beat Cummings in the May 21 primary election for the Republican county commissioner nominations.
Bolus’ numbers aren’t quite right. Spano gave $1.079.70 to the Chermak-Giannetta PAC, and he and his wife, Mary Rose, gave $1,000 to Giannetta’s campaign PAC, according to campaign finance reports. That’s $11,729.70, less than $12,000.
“I believe that the nature of these contributions and the manner in which they are listed raises questions about whether or not they are legitimate, true and accurate and in compliance with the law,” Bolus wrote.
Bolus basically questioned whether Spano, as a retired teacher, could actually contribute himself, suggesting Spano fronted for someone else.
Spano said he and his wife contributed, no one else’s contributions.
“I guess he’s never heard of savings accounts,” Spano said. “Absolutely, it’s all my money, every penny of it. I wouldn’t take it if they tried (to pass it through me). I know what that’s all about.”
Letting someone give you money to contribute to a political campaign in your name is illegal.
“If anybody ought to know about felonies, it’s Bob Bolus,” Spano said, referring to Bolus’ felonious past. “He’s got to prove me guilty.”
Exactly what the Board of Elections thought. Because the commissioners are on the ballot this year, the board consists of county Judges Thomas Munley, Trish Corbett and Vito Geroulo.
The judges concluded Bolus’ complaint lacked “enough actionable information,” said attorney Jennifer McCambridge, the board’s lawyer.
Translation: lacks evidence.
The complaint presents an opinion and assumption, but that’s it, McCambridge said. So the board won’t take any further action.