Fort Smith Ward 3 Director Candidate Mike Lorenz is balancing his campaign with a pending litigation between American Express, himself and JML Promotions.
According to Case No. 2012-147 in the Sebastian County Circuit Court, the credit card company is seeking more than $58,000 from Lorenz and JML, his former business. The last document in the case file was a “request for admissions” from American Express that has not yet been answered.
In the request, American Express asks for the defendants to admit an unpaid principal balance of $58,689.81, and that no dispute was ever brought against the account and no action was ever made to stop credit.
The case came to The City Wire’s attention from an Oct. 10 email sent by “Thomas B. Ruth.” Matt Garner, Lorenz’s opponent in November, denied sending the email or having any knowledge of who the sender is, but did take a moment to weigh in.
“If this does prove to be true I think Mr. Lorenz needs to explain this suit, and explain what he intends to do about it,” Garner said. “The city has a budget of over $200 million a year. We need leaders who are good stewards of their own money, in addition to being good potential stewards for taxpayer money.”
On Tuesday (Oct. 16), Lorenz issued this explanation: “On the advice of my attorney I cannot comment on the details of this litigation due to the fact that it is a pending action, however I can tell you that it is a legitimate dispute between JML Promotions, Inc and American Express and the issue is in no way related to the actual sale transaction of my business or the current owner in any way. The dispute existed prior to the transaction more than two years ago and multiple attempts have been made to resolve it. Everyone experiences bumps in their personal and business finances at one time or another. Ongoing legal discussions require discretion on my part, but I'd like to make it clear that this is not a personal debt and it should have no reflection on my ability to serve the citizens of Fort Smith as Ward 3 City Director. I have the experience of building a profitable business, possessing a strong financial background including a business finance degree and years of community service and involvement. I believe these advantages make me the strongest candidate for the position.”
According to a Feb. 28, 2012, filing from Lorenz he “generally and specifically denies each and every material allegation contained in the Complaint of the Plaintiff (American Express).”
A financial statement provided by Lorenz, which was a required filing with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s as part of his service on the Fort Smith Planning Commission, suggests that Lorenz has the ability to pay the American Express debt if that becomes the result of litigation.