Berry stated that a call received about 8 a.m. on Oct. 5 compelled her to ask Oliver to look into the situation.
“(The caller) asked me if I knew that Ales had outstanding taxes and that disqualifies her from being a candidate for county commissioner.”
Berry said she called Oliver to investigate Campbell’s tax records. After a brief survey, Oliver said he decided to recuse himself from further paper-shuffling.
“I did investigate the public records and was able to determine that there were a number of delinquent tax executions in the Walker County records which might relate to the candidate. ... As county attorney I must represent all the elected and appointed county officials, as well as the county itself and its citizens. This representation includes the office which is the subject of this election. ... Once it was apparent on Monday that this matter could proceed beyond the mere gathering of information from the public records, I informed the elections superintendent and the board of elections chair that I would recuse myself and have no further involvement in the matter.”
At question seemed to be whether Campbell or her husband’s company, LaFayette-based Campbell Surveying and Mapping, owes any taxes, and whether that would disqualify her from running against incumbent commissioner Heiskell or even serving as commissioner should she be elected.
“According to the constitution, if she’s on a payment plan with outstanding taxes, it does not disqualify her,” said Berry. “If she’s paid them in full that does not disqualify her.”
The Georgia Constitution, Article II, Section II, Paragraph III, states that no person may hold office “who is a defaulter for any federal, state, county, municipal, or school system taxes required of such officeholder or candidate if such person has been finally adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to owe those taxes, but such ineligibility may be removed at any time by full payment thereof, or by making payments to the tax authority pursuant to a payment plan, or under such other conditions as the General Assembly may provide by general law. ... Additional conditions of eligibility to hold office for persons elected on a write-in vote...may be provided by law.”
According to Campbell, the tax issues that surfaced in Oliver’s search were liens against her husband’s company stemming from clerical errors on multiple fronts. All outstanding debts have been paid in full, she said.
“We filed a tax return (in 2004) and then we filed an amended return and a lien was placed on the original amount,” she said.
Campbell blamed the error on the company’s CPA at the time, who she said omitted a few items from the return.
“There were purchases on the company that had not been reported,” she said.
The amended federal return was accepted and the lien released, but the state return was never released, a fact which Campbell said she and her husband were unaware of until recently.
Campbell traveled to Rome Wednesday morning, Oct. 10, to speak with representatives at the Department of Revenue office to clear up the matter once and for all.
According to Campbell, one other financial issue with the company’s financial records came about when a former employee, who was fired from Campbell Surveying and Mapping in 2008, defaulted on two loans from World Finance Co. Multiple attempts by World Finance Co. to garnish the ex-employee’s wages eventually led to the Campbells paying off the two loans themselves — one for $834 and another for $684 — and petitioning the former employee for compensation.
Campbell also said she was unaware that her husband’s company owed ad valorum taxes for 2010 and 2011, which went unpaid until Sept. 24 of this year.
“I don’t do anything with the finances of the company anymore,” she said. “I started driving the bus in 2009 and stopped being the watchdog.”
At a meeting of the Walker County board of elections Friday morning, Oct.12, Campbell provided documentation of her tax payments and received reassurance from the board that there were no outstanding issues preventing her from running for or serving as Walker County's sole commissioner.
"As far as we're concerned, this is not an issue," said Walker County board of elections chair Ebeth Edwards.