Smith stops short of booting Ausman from party postby John Kennedy | June 1st, 2011
Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith suspended Leon County State Committeeman Jon Ausman through next year’s presidential contest, but stopped short Wednesday of following a party panel’s recommendation that he be tossed off the executive committee.
Ausman has been under fire for taking sides in party primary contests in Leon County and also for backing Jeff Greene, who paid for his campaign work, over Kendrick Meek in last summer’s Democratic U.S. Senate contest.
A party disciplinary committee voted 5-1 May 2 to recommend Ausman’s removal for “conduct of such an outrageous nature as to violate the understood professional standards of our party.”
But Smith, in his ruling, seemed to look for a middle ground.
Instead, Smith ordered that Ausman be suspended from party activities until Dec. 1, 2012, although he would “entertain a petition for reinstatement,” after June 1.
“In support of my decision to mitigate, I have considered the best interests of the FDP and I find that a permanent removal should be avoided if a lesser penalty will send a sufficient message to the offender and deter such conduct in the future,” Smith wrote.
Ausman has been a Democratic activist for more than 30 years, holding a number of leadership posts within the party.
He also has an encyclopedic understanding of party rules — a skill he has used frequently in past party battles, including the 2008 delegate fight stemming from Florida’s presidential primary that violated national party rules.
Asked whether he would accept the suspension — and a Smith olive branch, Ausman said, “I’m thinking about it. I will probably do a press conference soon.”