At qualifying, District C City Council candidate Tom Arnold was viewed as a significant contender. As the incumbent tax assessor for Fifth District starting in 1985, Arnold has been a political fixture on the West Bank since Van Halen’s heyday. Given his position, Arnold has been a successful ward heeler, helping his son get elected to the state Legislature and commanding endorsements in this election cycle from a stable of connected politicians and organizations including Democratic congressional candidate Cedric Richmond, Republican State Speaker Jim Tucker, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, and three unions: a local of Service Employees International Union, United Teachers of New Orleans, and the AFL-CIO.
Yet, the Arnold campaign has been totally unprepared for the scrutiny of the 21st Century campaign trail. After the American Zombie illustrated allegations that Arnold wildly brandished a gun in his office at the Algiers Courthouse during a domestic dispute, The Times-Picayune confirmed with a named source and published the story. The paper gave the same treatment to Karen’s story about how the campaign platform on Arnold’s Web site seems to have been plagiarized from candidates for city council in Brooklyn.
Today’s Times-Picayune reported that the Arnold campaign failed to file campaign finance forms with the state Board of Ethics but was not able to obtain a comment from Arnold or his staff. Seemingly in response to the article, the Arnold campaign made his campaign finance report available on his Web site. You can download it here.
The campaign includes in the posting a copy of the envelope they used to mail their report, I suppose to try to prove their intention to comply with the law. The envelope is stamped “return to sender” because the campaign used a disclosure form last revised in 2002, before the Board of Ethics moved to a different address, and it provided the old address.
I have no way of knowing whether using an old form was simply a demonstration of the campaign’s incompetence or a more insidious attempt to hide the contents of the report. I do know that if it was the latter, there is plenty of evidence of the former within the contents of the newly available report.
Tom Arnold has only raised $16,185 from contributors. Even after several loans worth a total of $8,500, Arnold’s campaign account is dwarfed by that of outsider challenger Kristin Palmer, who has banked in the six figures.
Perhaps more remarkable is that $4,500 of Arnold’s paltry haul was paid to Anthony “Chip” Quaglino for the development of the Arnold campaign’s maligned Web site.
Quaglino was defiant when confronted by The Times-Picayune about cribbing Arnold’s campaign platform.
“Sue me for not being overly creative or having time to sit down and do this.”
It turns out Arnold’s platform wasn’t the only portion of the Web site Quaglino didn’t have time to do. Check out this screenshot listing Arnold’s accomplishments:
Just four days away from Election Day, neither Quaglino nor the Arnold campaign still have found the time to list any accomplishments from the candidate’s long career in politics.
Another aspect of the Web site the campaign didn’t have time to do: spell check.
“State Senator JP Morrel” should have two ‘l’s, not one. “Professionals” is spelled with one ‘f,’ not two. Jim Tucker is the Speaker of the House not the “Spealer.”
The Arnold campaign simply can’t brush this off as some minor part of their efforts. Nearly a sixth of the total funds available to the campaign were devoted to the creation of their campaign Web site, and Arnold and his team didn’t realize or care that the deliverable they received was incomplete, plagiarized, and misspelled.
The Palmer campaign, ahem, “the City Council Integrity Committee,” has been distributing an attack mailer to residents of District C that pulls quotes from unflattering Times-Picayune articles that highlight the courthouse incident and instances where Tom Arnold has abused his power to avoid speeding tickets.
Arnold’s son, State Rep. Jeff Arnold has penned a response that has been published on the campaign Web site accusing Palmer of going negative. But at this point, just four days away from the close of polls, why even bother drawing additional attention to the an increasingly illustrative symbol of the campaign’s incompetence and gullibility?
Perhaps the Arnold campaign would be better served by taking Quaglino up on his invitation for lawsuits. Since it seems unlikely he’ll win District C, he can at least win some of his campaign money back.