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Monday, October 24, 2016

On Monday, Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Committee, accusing Governor Rick Scott’s (R) campaign  of committing campaign finance violations.

According to Tant’s complaint, Scott’s current campaign illegally transferred nearly $27.4 million from the governor’s former 2010 electioneering communication organization, “Let’s Get to Work,” to a new political committee with the same name.

Due in part to lax laws that allow for broad uses of campaign funds, a political committee, such as Let’s Get to Work, can legally give money directly to other political committees. However, an electioneering communications organization — which funds and engages in election-related activities through communication means, such as radio commercials and TV ads — cannot directly contribute to a political committee.

In other words: If the allegation that Scott’s campaign transferred money from a former electioneering communication organization to a political committee is true, it’s a violation of campaign finance law.

Tant now argues the campaign “violated the law,” and that “the governor is supposed to uphold the law.” If she’s right, Scott’s re-election campaign could be fined up to $82 million.

John French, the chairman of Let’s Get to Work, criticized the accusations, saying that the first incarnation of Let’s Get to Work was dismantled before a check for $24.7 million was given to the new committee, which was formed the same day the original organization was discontinued. Hence, according to French, the check received by the political committee could not have come directly from the electioneering communication organization, because it no longer existed at the time the check was written or received.

Still, Democrats maintain that the transfer of money was illegal, even if the check was written after the official close of the first version of Let’s Get to Work.

According to The Huffington Post, two Democratic state elections experts say the same.

“It’s the subterfuge that they went through to transfer the money illegally. It’s allowing them to do indirectly which they can’t do directly,” says Mark Herron, an elections lawyer.

Another expert on state campaign finance laws, Ron Meyer, agreed: “If it’s not blatantly illegal, it certainly violates the spirit of the law.”

This is not the first campaign controversy for Scott’s Let’s Get to Work: His campaign recently addressed a “mistake” that resulted in the committee failing to list a $500,000 donation it received from a private business.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Daniel Jones

    Let’s be blunt here:

    Scott had the same people in both groups, in fact the same group.

    Here’s what he did; He set up the electioneering communications group, then after they accumulated a whole heap of money, “closed” it while having said heap transferred to the new incarnation of Let’s Get To Work–same people, same goal (elect Scott), new means of doing so.

    He literally played a shell game with the funds AND the campaign workers, or there would have been a huge stink raised by the fired communications group members.

  • Sand_Cat

    This guy headed a company that committed massive Medicare fraud, but the idiots elected him anyway. The only way he’s likely to leave is under a term limits law, if Florida has one.

  • Dominick Vila

    Everything is possible in Florida where peccadilloes, such as changing the name and charter of a political organization, and shifting funds around to accomplish the same goal are more often than not ignored.
    Gov. Scott has had problems with the law since long before he was elected. His activities when he founded and managed Columbia HCA, the company that got the largest fine for healthcare fraud in U.S. history, was a precursor of things to come, and he has not disappointed anyone in that regard.
    Perhaps not surprisingly, his popularity has been increasing in recent months as a result of his decision to change tactics and project a populist image that is anathema to his early record as Governor of one of the most politically corrupt states in the Union.
    Don’t be surprised if he is re-elected by a comfortable margin, especially if the pathetic Charlie Crist happens to be our candidate. For that matter, don’t expect the Florida legislature, which is 2/3 Republican, to change course anytime soon.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Any possibility he can use “Stand your ground” as his defense? I mean, he does feel like his campaign is threatened by laws not of his choosing, so doesn’t that justify his actions?

  • CrankyToo

    So what are you saying, Ms. Gomez? That Repugnicans are scum and that Governor Scott is a POS? Surprise!!!

    And Florida! What can I say about Florida? It was great growing up in Hollywood in the 60’s, but after 48 years, I just can’t hang any longer. You’ve become a laughingstock, Florida, and I’m outta here.

    See you in the funny papers Rick – you dirtbag.

  • dana becker

    Well come on, he is a crook. We can’t expect him to change now.