My partial response to the unsigned postcard Beachwood residents received.
Dear Beachwood Residents,
Many of you have received an unsigned postcard recently that reads “Vote No On Mike Burkons” from “Citizens for a Better Beachwood”, a newly formed Political Action Committee, whose donors are currently unknown, that is registered at 2429 Brian Drive, which happens to be the address of Councilman Eric Synenberg. It's been pointed out by many people that the message on this postcard is very similar to the message on the anonymous emails and mailed letters many residents received in the last month.
It also seems like Eric reached out to several reporters, hoping to get someone to write a damning story about my "scandalous" campaign finance violations in the week before the election. So far none have taken the bait, likely because with a single phone call to the Ohio Elections Commission, they learned there was nothing “scandalous” to report, or at least close to the level that would justify a story in the days leading up to an election. Here is what you need to know…
Every year, about 500-700 campaign finance reports are referred to the Ohio Elections Commission “OEC” for some sort of non-compliance. The overwhelming majority are NOT referred for nefarious reasons like improper use of campaign funds or non-disclosure of donations, and most are referred for late filings or for issues like the ones I had in my 2019 reports which I will explain below. If you search the data base, you will find that three other current elected officials in Beachwood have been referred to the Ohio Elections Commission over similar non scandalous non-compliance issues not worthy of your attention. However, since Eric spent thousands of dollars of his own money sending out an unsigned postcard to “expose” this and paint it as “scandalous”, here are the issues with my campaign finance reports that I was referred to the OEC over that Eric referenced on the unsigned postcard…
I had to resubmit and amend my 2019 filings because I accounted for the fees from PayPal donations incorrectly. More specifically, when I received a $100 donation through PayPal, I listed it as a donation of $96 (and some change), since that was the amount that hit my back account, as PayPal took out the fees. It turns out that is the wrong way to do this as I was supposed to list the donation as $100 on the income page, and the PayPal fees on the expense form of the campaign finance report. I received and paid a $300 fine over this, not because of the seriousness of the mistake, but because it took me way longer than it should have to fix this issue, which also caused me to file my annual 2020 report late as well, and the OEC consolidated all the issues into a single fine.
I filed my annual 2021 report on time and in compliance.
My 2022 report was filed on 5-25-23 when it was due on 1-31-23 as I mistakenly thought I didn’t have to file a report in years when I wasn’t on a ballot and the committee had zero financial activity. The report was quickly filed after I was made aware of the mistake. There are no issues of compliance with the report besides it being late, which I expect I may have to pay a fine for.
I already filed the report for 2023 for this committee, without any compliance issues, which was required when I terminated the committee earlier this year in July.
The new committee that was created turned in the pre general election report for this cycle on time and without any compliance issues.
Running for office can be a full-time job, on top of the responsibilities of being a Councilman, which at times can be similar to a full-time job, on top of the actual job that pays the bills. However, I need to do a better job at staying on top of this stuff and making sure these things don’t slip through the cracks but I am sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping there was something here that is more sinister or scandalous than that.
On that note, and you can’t make this stuff up, is below my signature you will find something I was just sent about some interesting information/issues from Eric Synenberg’s most recent campaign finance report, which seems to be quite a bit more serious and criminal than the issues from my campaign finance reports, which he spent thousands of dollars of his own money to send out unsigned postcard to “expose”. Please let me know if you have any questions.
I also reviewed Eric’s 2022 annual financial report, which is his most recent. While it included normal campaign activity, it also included some highly suspect campaign spending. To give context, he ran for election in 2021 and this report was for spending in 2022:
$34.89 at Fanlocks Shop which makes dreadlocks hats in January
$50.01 at Sunoco for gas in July
$15.23 at Siam Cafe for food in July
$13.13 at Charley’s Philly Steaks for food in August
$6.43 at Break Corner 1 for food in August
$26.68 at Bomba Tacos and Rum for food in August
$27 at Cedar Creek Grille for food in August
$18.20 at East Coast Custard for food in August
$15.80 at Swensons for food in August
$10.45 at McDonalds for food in August
$40 at BP for gas in August
$11 at Crust Midtown for food in September
$48.50 at Progressive Field for “food” in September
$13 at Progressive Field for “merchandise” in September
$19.50 at Progressive Field for “food” in October
For a total of $349.82 if I did my math right
I want to quote a statement in the 6/21/22 Plain Dealer article from Judge Joan Synenberg, Eric’s step-mom, when she sentenced the former Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins to 30 days in jail, for using campaign money at restaurants, bars, gas stations, big-box stores and barbershops, according to court records:
“It’s alarming and unfathomable that in 15 years as a public official that you did not understand that you don’t use campaign finance contributions as your personal bank account,” Judge Synenberg said.
I couldn’t agree with Judge Joan Synenberg more.