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    Election panel dismisses complaint

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 24, 2002

    The Florida Elections Commission has dismissed a complaint against five Pinellas-Pasco judicial candidates accused of improperly sharing the cost of a mailing to absentee voters.

    The commission said on Thursday in a letter to judicial candidate M. Malinda Ottinger, a St. Pete Beach attorney, that her complaint against candidates in five separate races was "legally insufficient."

    The five candidates shared the costs of an advertising mailing to absentee voters in the Pinellas-Pasco circuit. Ottinger said the mailing implied that each of the candidates endorsed one another, something judicial candidates are prohibited from doing.

    But the commission said candidates may engage in joint advertising as long as they share the cost equally. The commission also said a disclaimer on the ad told voters the candidates do not endorse one another.

    The candidates named in Ottinger's complaint are Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb in Group 8; Declan Mansfield in Group 25; Linda Babb in Group 26; Jack St. Arnold in Group 28; and Linda Allan in Group 41. Ottinger is one of Allan's two opponents in that contest.

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