Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More on Beth Dillaha's ethical problems

The Winter Park/Maitland Observer published their own article yesterday about former Winter Park City Commissioner Beth Dillaha's latest ethical problems:

Winter Park/Maitland Observer | Dillaha's mailer violated election law, state attorney says
The anti-Sarah Sprinkel mailer that went out before the March 8 election was commissioned by then-outgoing Winter Park City Commissioner Beth Dillaha, and it violated a state election law, according to the state attorney's office...
Community activist William Graves was listed as the financier of the mailer, but later said he was not behind it after a developer and former City Commission candidate threatened to sue him over its content. In an interview with the Observer in March, Graves declined to reveal the author of the mailer or where the money came from.

That secrecy frustrated [City Commissioner Steven] Leary, who spoke out against anonymous mailers at Monday's meeting. 

"Transparency and anonymity are contradictory," Leary said...
And in case you missed it, my blog post from yesterday:
Sunshine State Sarah | How to Speak Winter Parker: "Dillaha" Means "Hypocrite."
Next week, the Winter Park City Commission will be voting on a resolution to send to the Florida Elections Commission, condemning these anonymous mailers. As I noted yesterday, Pete Weldon's complaint is being sent to the FEC for further investigation.

Also, the letter from the State Attorney's investigator and the Observer article linked above both mention that the mailers "appear" to have complied with the statutorily required disclaimer. However, by my reading of the Florida Statutes, this is not the case.

I'm going to try and avoid getting into an overly complicated legal analysis, but in general, because the exact identities of the persons, companies, or organizations who paid for the mailer have not yet been disclosed, I cannot say specifically which statute would govern the mailer. Independent expenditures, electioneering communications, and political committees are the possibilities for how the mailer should have been organized, paid for, and reported. The bottom line is that all of the statutory disclaimer rules require disclosure of who paid for the ad, so providing false or misleading information in the disclaimer complies with neither the letter nor the spirit of Florida's election laws.

So, let's look at the actual language of the Florida Statutes. Here are the relevant subsections setting forth the disclaimer requirements for independent expenditures, electioneering communications, and political committees:

Independent expenditures:
Section 106.071(2). Any political advertisement paid for by an independent expenditure shall prominently state “Paid political advertisement paid for by (Name and address of person paying for advertisement) independently of any (candidate or committee).”
Electioneering communications:
Section 106.1439(1). Any electioneering communication, other than a telephone call, shall prominently state: “Paid electioneering communication paid for by (Name and address of person paying for the communication).”
Political committees:
Section 106.143(1)(c). Any political advertisement made pursuant to s. 106.021(3)(d) must be marked “paid political advertisement” or with the abbreviation “pd. pol. adv.” and must prominently state, “Paid for and sponsored by (name of person paying for political advertisement). Approved by (names of persons, party affiliation, and offices sought in the political advertisement).”
Note the words I've highlighted in bold. Florida law requires disclaimers in political advertisements to disclose the identity of who paid for it. Listing a fake name, or the name of a person who is not the actual one who paid for the advertisement does not comply with the Florida Statutes. 

Because the mailer that Beth Dillaha organized to attack Sarah Sprinkel listed William Graves in its disclaimer but he was not the one who actually paid for it, the mailer is not in compliance with the statutory disclaimer requirements.

1 comment:

  1. Dillaha is an embarassment to Winter Park.


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