Sugar and spice

September 21, 1990

We still do not know who contributed the coconut cake or who brought the one with the chocolate sprinkles to a fund-raiser for Ted Sophocleus. And though we may never find out, one thing is clear: The charges being leveled against Sophocleus by rival Bob Neall look, at this moment, half-baked.

At the heart of the allegations is this: Sophocleus had listed a number of senior citizens as having bought $25 tickets to a fund raiser, and they didn't. Sophocleus doesn't dispute this but says these folks baked cakes to be used in a Wheel of Fortune game at the event. Those who attended bet a quarter on a number on the wheel, and took home one of the controversial cakes as a prize if their number came up. Instead of listing the name of every person who had plunked down 25 cents, the would-be executive confessed that he divided his "campaign contribution" into $25 portions, then used the names of seniors who attended the event and those who had contributed the baked goods. That's hardly a Watergate-class scandal.

This is not to condone sloppy bookkeeping; truth in reporting is important in maintaining the public trust. But Neall knee-jerked in accusing Sophocleus of full-fledged campaign fraud and exploitation of senior citizens. Now, unless he can prove these things beyond a reasonable doubt, Neall's own credibility could be damaged instead.

In the meantime, the speculation persists: Will the state be able to hunt down the alleged cake-bakers and wrench a confession of participation? Will Sophocleus ever again be able to walk into Fran O'Brien's and order a slice of mocha layer cake without his colleagues snickering? More to the point, is anyone's German chocolate cake really worth $25?

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