Reed used campaign funds to pay his property taxes

Jeffery Smith

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, used campaign funds in April 2012 to pay a late Steuben County property tax bill.

Using campaign funds for personal expenses is against the law, said Tim Kolpien, Reed's political director. But a refund was quickly made reimbursing Reed's campaign.

"It was quite literally an error," Kolpien said. "(Reed) wrote the tax payment on the wrong check. As soon as he realized what had happened he immediately reimbursed the campaign.

Reed, who will face Democratic Tompkins County Legislature chair Martha Robertson for the 23rd Congressional District seat in 2014, called the issue an unfortunate clerical error.

"I take full responsibility for it," Reed, who owns a number of properties in the area, said in a statement. "I immediately corrected the error by personally reimbursing my campaign account and at no time were there insufficient funds in my personal account to cover this erroneously written check from my campaign."

"Out of an abundance of caution, we promptly self-reported the error by issuing a statement for the public record to the (Federal Election Commission)," Reed said. "We put new precautions and procedures in place in order to ensure this does not happen again."

The payment was for $4,247.83 to the Steuben County Treasurer, Kolpien said. Less than 30 days later Reed discovered the mistake and refunded the campaign account.

"Obviously it's not the appropriate thing to do," said Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan, the Steuben County Democratic Party chairman. "It's illegal. But the fact they caught the error and self-reported, it's certainly the right thing to do."

About a week ago it was widely reported that Reed has failed to pay his property taxes on time 38 times since 2005, including 18 times since he became a congressman.

"I think he needs to shake up the staff or get a better accountant," Hogan said. "Unfortunately it's a highly charged environment and people are looking for the fatal flaws. I know Tom and he's a smart enough guy. He should tighten up the ship a little bit."