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Published: Saturday, 4/8/2006

Copeland tardy in filing financial disclosure forms

BY JIM TANKERSLEY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo City Councilman Phil Copeland filed his state financial disclosure forms four days late yesterday, a delay he called an "oversight" of reporting deadlines.

Mr. Copeland, who is a Democrat, must typically file ethics forms by mid-April to meet state requirements for city officials.

This year, he is running for Lucas County commissioner. All candidates in the May 2 primary were supposed to file by Monday.

Mr. Copeland sent them to the state ethics commission after The Blade requested copies of his forms this week, along with an $80 money order to cover fines for filing late.

"I wasn't aware of it," Mr. Copeland said of the Monday postmark deadline.

"I thought I had until the 15th."

The other four commissioner hopefuls - Democrats Tim Wagener and Ben Konop; Republicans Pam Haynam and George Sarantou - all filed on time. Several said they received notice of the deadline in the mail.

Mr. Konop called Mr. Copeland's tardiness part of a "pattern" that included his October payment of a decades-old $63,000 delinquent tax bill and his recent public acknowledgement of an ongoing federal investigation into Laborers' Local 500, the union that employs Mr. Copeland as secretary-treasurer.

Mr. Konop said it appeared reporters were "having to be [Mr. Copeland's] conscience" in each instance.

On his form, Mr. Copeland reported his name, position, contact information, and employer.

He checked boxes indicating he had taken no gifts over $75 or meals over $100, never traveled in his official capacity at others' expense, and had no investments or debtors.

He also indicated he had no creditors who loaned him more than $1,000 during the year.

Mr. Copeland told The Blade last month that individuals, whom he declined to name, loaned him some of the money to settle the tax bill, which stems from a failed business in the 1980s.

He declined again yesterday to say how much he borrowed or from whom, but he said none of the loans exceeded $1,000.

The other candidates had more to report. Ms. Haynam listed $260 in gifts - and unspecified food and beverage - from the Sylvania City School District; she serves on the school board.

Mr. Sarantou, a Toledo city councilman, said he accepted a nearly $1,400 trip for meetings in New York City from Fifth Third Securities Inc.

He noted one gift: a shovel from ProMedica.

Mr. Wagener, the mayor of Maumee, reported $150 in gifts from "staff as a whole" and $569 in travel expenses from the city.

Mr. Konop, the only candidate not currently holding public office, reported no gifts.

He appeared to make one small error: listing his creditors - including the U.S. government, for student loans - as "debtors."

Contact Jim Tankersley at:

jtankersley@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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