Short Campaign Report Details $26,000 Loan
(Re-printed with permission from the SUN HERALD)
Friday, June 16, 2000
BY KAREN NELSON / THE SUN HERALD
GULFPORT --- Mayor Bob Short filed three financial reports from his 1997
campaign late Thursday afternoon with the city clerk, one detailing a loan he received
from the estate that owned Orange Grove Utilities.
The other two reports were annual updates that he had neglected to file on January
1999 and January 2000. The loan was a check for $26,000 authorized by Kathy Day
and written on the estate of her father, Clarence Johnson. The estate included the
utility, which the city bought for $33.8 million in December under the Short
In a statement filed with the reports, Short explained why the loan did not show up on
his campaign report dated May 24, 1997. Contributions of more than $200, including
loans, are required by state law to be itemized on the reports so voters will know who
is making larger contributions to candidates. He said he included the $26,000 in the
$120,000 he reported receiving that period but did not list it separately or list whom it
"The 1997 Election Cycle reporting forms provided by the secretary of state included
a page entitled 'LOANS (OPTIONAL)'," Short said in his statement. "This title
indicated to me that the itemized information regarding 'loans' was optional, and I was
not required to provide that itemized information."
He was advised to file the three reports by attorney Dean Holleman in a letter dated
June 15. And with the reports, the statement and the letter from Holleman, Short
also filed photocopies of the check signed by Kathy Day, the check he then wrote to
his campaign, the undated note to Day promising to pay back the loan and the
warranty deed dated Feb. 4, 1998, conveying a piece of Long Beach property to Day
as payment of the loan.
The deed was not recorded, however, until Jan. 31, 2000, three weeks after Day was
questioned about the loan in a legal deposition and 10 days before Short faced
questions about the loan in a similar deposition.
The Sun Herald learned of the $26,000 loan during depositions, or sworn testimony,
taken on the newspaper's behalf from Short and Day in preparation for her suit
against the newspaper. Day, her husband, Steven Day, and Orange Grove Utilities
Inc. claim in the lawsuit that the newspaper damaged their reputations and caused
them other injuries when it reported their political connections to Short in September
In her deposition, Kathy Day said she supported Short for mayor to get incumbent
Ken Combs out of office and level the playing field. She said Combs had been unfair
and was trying to have the city buy her utility too cheaply. Under the Combs
administration, the city used appraisals for $9 million and $14 million in its attempts to
buy the utility either by negotiation or by eminent domain.
In the statement Short filed Thursday with the city clerk, he said: "In closing, I would
like to state that there is no merit to any implication that the loan from the Estate of
Clarence Johnson Jr., to me on April 30, 1997, affected the city's negotiations to
purchase Orange Grove Utilities.
"The city's attempts to purchase the Utilities was ongoing prior to my election as
mayor. After my election, the negotiations between the City Council and the utility
were based upon independent appraisals obtained by the parties, not the mayor.
"As mayor, I had no vote in the negotiations, nor the final agreement reached. In fact,
I took no part in the negotiations except encouraging the City Council to resolve the
negotiations without expensive and protracted litigation."
***Karen Nelson can be reached at 875-9109 or at email@example.com