Lagniappe has learned at least one local business had records related to purchases by Mayor Sam Jonesâ€™ campaign subpoenaed Wednesday by the District Attorneyâ€™s Office.
The owner, who spoke on condition that the businessâ€™ name not be used, said officials from Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Richâ€™s office came in today bearing a subpoena for records for 2010 and 2011, and were looking for purchases made by Jonesâ€™ campaign. The particular business was not listed on annual reports submitted by the Jones Campaign to the Mobile County Probate Court for either year. By law, campaigns are required to account for all expenditures made.
When asked, the business owner confirmed that Jones has indeed made purchases over the past two years using his campaign account, although he didnâ€™t know the exact number, only that there were several.
Rich would not confirm or deny that subpoenas were issued for that particular businessâ€™ records, or for any other. She also would not confirm or deny whether Jonesâ€™ campaign records were subpoenaed by her office.
"I have no comment,â€ť Rich repeated three times when asked about whether she had ordered subpoenas for one business, multiple businesses or the mayorâ€™s records.
Jonesâ€™ campaign spending has come under scrutiny after a report in the May 2 issue of Lagniappe detailed more than $70,000 in unusual spending over the past two years. Those expenditures include $9,700 during 34 visits to Samâ€™s Wholesale store, $8,491 in electricity from Alabama Power, $2,251 in hardware store purchases and $3,691 to State Farm Insurance to name a few.
Jones has said those expenses relate to his keeping of a year-round campaign headquarters at a building he owns at 2209 Costarides St. He also rents half of the building out to the Epiphany Beauty Salon, and has admitted during interviews with other media to using campaign funds to make repairs to the part of the building used by his campaign, as well as to pay for an alarm system for the whole building, a dumpster used by both his campaign office and the salon and for lawn care. Jones has refused repeated requests by Lagniappe for an interview on this subject.
Jones has had multiple explanations for the nearly $10,000 in purchases from Samâ€™s Club, a wholesale store, initially saying all purchases went to support the headquarters and for "typing paper,â€ť then later telling other media he also used the money to purchase juice and water for the mayorâ€™s office. He has refused to supply receipts from the Samâ€™s Club buys, claiming they were trying to get them together. Samâ€™s verified Monday that they could supply 12 months of purchases within 24 hours if requested by a member.
On Tuesday, Jones said he would be supplying no further records than those already online with Probate Court.
Use of campaign funds to support his tenantâ€™s business would be a violation of state campaign finance laws. The law also prohibits using campaign funds in ways that would personally benefit the candidate. Those violations can carry up to a Class B felony charge.
As for non-reporting of expenditures, Janice McDonald of the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Election division said someone being found guilty of not disclosing purchases could be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
Jones has repeatedly said he has followed the "letter of the lawâ€ť in his reporting.
"But we have followed the letter of the law. Every penny, every transaction weâ€™ve made is listed on that form,â€ť Jones said Tuesday morning outside the City Council Chambers.
Calls to his office concerning this story were not returned.