Pro-Rader committee faces $15,250 fine for tardy report; appeal plannedby George Bennett | May 11th, 2011
The Florida Elections Commission approved the fine Tuesday against the Committee to Improve Florida’s Economy. The committee plans to appeal the fine, attorney Mark Herron said this morning.The committee is chaired by veteran Democratic operative Eric Johnson. Johnson was also Rader’s consultant last year.
While the committee was two months late filing a report that was due Aug. 20, Herron argued that a “significant portion” of the information required on the report had been mistakenly included in a previous report that was available for public inspection on the Division of Elections website.
“It’s a fine for the paperwork being put in the wrong bin when everything was posted online,” Herron said.
But Herron conceded that a $70,000 expenditure by the committee for a pre-primary mailing wasn’t reported until October. Herron said the committee’s bookkeeper wasn’t aware of the expense until October and immediately took steps to amend the committee’s report when she learned of it.
The Committee to Improve Florida’s Economy is an “electioneering communications organization” that is permitted by state law to buy ads and send mailings that praise or criticize candidates without expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. Such committees can accept unlimited contributions but cannot give money directly to a candidate.
The committee spent $70,000 on a mailing before Rader’s Democratic primary win over Peter Burkert and $49,763 on an October mailing a few weeks before Rader lost the general election to Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto.