A case involving Mayor Brad Hart, CSPS and mayoral candidate Amara Andrews made headlines last weekend. It gave us a glimpse of the tensions resulting from a competitive mayoral race that are sure to grab headlines as the campaign draws closer to fall.
Andrews was to be a special guest at an improvisation event at CSPS Hall. This was not a campaign event and the CSPS included a disclaimer on materials promoting the event confirming its political neutrality as a 501 (c ) (3).
But Andrews promoted the event on his campaign’s Facebook page. Hart got wind of the promotion and left an angry voicemail message for CSPS CEO Taylor Bergen. The mayor argued that Andrews’ participation would jeopardize the arts organization’s non-profit status and the city’s funding for the CSPS through the hotel / motel tax.
“This is complete bullshit, and if you don’t know you’ve violated your 501 (c) (3) status, you shouldn’t be in the role you are in,” Hart said, according to a report from Marissa. by The Gazette. Payne.
The CSPS canceled the event. Hart maintained his legal claim that the event would be inappropriate, but later apologized on Facebook for not delivering his post “in a more calm manner.” Andrews hosted an improv event at another location.
Everyone could have done better.
Andrews made a mistake in promoting the event on his campaign Facebook page, making it look like a political event the CSPS specifically sought to avoid. The CSPS and its partners should have avoided hosting and promoting an event with a single mayoral candidate in a field of three. Improvisation should not extend to following the rules set for nonprofit organizations.
Still, Hart’s response to the situation was irrelevant. It is he who holds the real power and he has aggressively threatened to exercise it against a political enemy.
Particularly shocking was Hart’s threat that the event would affect the city’s funding for CSPS. It smacked of politically motivated retribution and was totally inappropriate. Hart’s much stronger argument that the event went against rules banning political activity and should not take place was undermined by this angry warning.
The election is still three months away. We understand that this is a competition between candidates who are very active in the community, especially working with non-profit organizations. It’s a race for a part-time position, so severing all ties is not possible.
But there are rules that must be followed, so applicants should be careful to avoid conflicts of interest and put nonprofits in an awkward or even illegal position. The way they run their campaigns and the times of tension will tell us a lot about what kind of mayor they will be.
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