BY LEESHA FAULKNER
TUPELO - The first candidate to face charges for missing a deadline for the filing of a campaign finance report won't see a trial.
Instead, Circuit Judge Tomie Green of Hinds County has sent the indictment of Jeremy Martin to the file, meaning it won't be prosecuted.
Martin has filed an amended Jan. 9, 2004, campaign report and paid a civil fine of $300 to the Secretary of State's Office.
In 2003, Martin campaigned unsuccessfully for the Mississippi House of Representatives District 19 post against incumbent Jamie Franks, D-Mooreville. Martin was indicted by a Hinds County grand jury last year for missing the deadline.
The indictment stated that Martin, a Republican from Tupelo, didn't file a campaign report within 48 hours as required by law on $2,465.56 spent to mail negative brochures about Franks.
The money was donated by John Ornsbey of Belmont, now deceased. A Martin attorney, John Helmert, claims his client didn't get the money until Nov. 14, 2003.
"The charge stemmed from an error in Martin's Jan. 9, 2004, finance report," said Helmert. "Martin mistakenly listed the date of Ornsbey's contribution as Oct. 27, 2003. All contributions received from Oct. 25 through Nov. 2 would have necessitated a 48-hour report."
All donations and expenditures of more than $200 are required to be reported to the Secretary of State's office.
The negative brochures bore the name of Concerned Citizens of Northeast Mississippi, but the indictment said Martin was involved in distributing them. Martin used his personal credit card to pay for the brochures, records show.
At the same time, Martin sent out positive materials about himself.
"That's the sneaky, lying type stuff that needs to be prosecuted," said Attorney General Jim Hood in a telephone interview Wednesday. "He tried to cover up the fact he was paying for a negative mailout."
After hearing about the fine, Franks said, "Justice has been served."
The Secretary of State's Web site this week showed that at least 80 candidates failed to report contributions as required by law. Those people likely made mistakes and can file amendments, Hood said.
"But it's crystal clear when you write a check for one and put a citizens committee on another," said Hood. "That's where I draw the line for civil and criminal."
Contact Leesha Faulkner at 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org