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Opponents Call for Vincent to Detail Spending

Times Staff Writer

Political rivals of Inglewood Mayor Edward Vincent demanded at this week’s City Council meeting that the mayor detail his campaign expenditures as required by state law and explain documents that indicate he may have billed both the city and his campaign fund for a 1987 trip.

Reacting to a Times report last week, four political activists called on Vincent to explain why he has not itemized and explained at least $50,000 in travel payments by his campaign fund since 1983. They also said the mayor should explain records that indicate he apparently billed both the city and his campaign fund for a 1987 trip to the Morro Bay and San Francisco areas.

Vincent did not respond to the statements during the public-comment section of Tuesday night’s short, sparsely attended meeting, except to direct one speaker to wrap up his comments. After the meeting, he declined to be interviewed about the matter.

The sharpest criticism at the meeting came from Garland Hardeman, a Vincent adversary and City Council candidate whose lawsuit overturned the 1987 election of his opponent in the council race, Ervin (Tony) Thomas. That case is being appealed.

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“You are there to make the law,” Hardeman told the mayor. “You should also abide by the law.”

Hardeman repeated his call for an outside agency to investigate Vincent’s travel spending.

City Manager Paul Eckles has said the city will not look into the 1987 Morro Bay trip because it is the responsibility of state agencies to examine campaign spending. But Hardeman said the Los Angeles County district attorney, the state attorney general and the Internal Revenue Service should look into the possibility of misuse of public or campaign funds.

Leroy Fisher, president of the United Democratic Club of Inglewood, said in an interview that his group--which generally opposes Vincent--is distributing copies of The Times report to pressure the mayor for an explanation of his city and campaign travel spending.

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“He owes us an answer,” Fisher said. “We need to find out if our tax dollars are being misused. I think the city should be more interested in looking at it themselves rather than pushing it on some other agency. We need to prod him to answer these questions.”

Fisher was a leader of the successful drive to defeat a 1987 ballot initiative that would have made Vincent a full-time mayor and increased his salary from $10,800 to almost $50,000 annually.

United Democratic Club members Terry Coleman and William Jenkins also complained at the meeting that controversy surrounding the mayor’s travels gives the city a bad name.

The Times has received copies of a complaint sent by an Inglewood resident to the district attorney, the attorney general and the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which is responsible for making sure campaign spending is fully reported.

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The commission enforces state laws that, among other things, require that reports of campaign expenditures of more than $100 show who received the money, for what purpose and, in the case of credit card payments, the ultimate recipient of the money.

Records indicate that Vincent has not itemized at least $50,000 in travel-related payments to American Express and a travel agency by his campaign fund since becoming mayor in 1983.

Vincent said last month he would file an amendment to his 1988 campaign statement to explain an unitemized American Express payment of $6,220, but no amendment had been filed as of Wednesday.


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