Party invites might be invitations to jail
By TIMES STAFF
Published February 10, 2007
So, you're giving a party. Do you send out invitations to friends at City Hall?
Not if you're running for office. You risk more than hurting someone's feelings by leaving them off the guest list.
You might just break the law. Some City Council candidates may have run afoul of state elections laws in just this way.
A state Division of Elections opinion says it is illegal to disseminate campaign fundraising invitations in government buildings.
The potential infractions to date:
- A backer of District 1 incumbent Gwen Miller e-mailed an invitation to a campaign event to at least three city workers.
- A handful of invitations to fundraising events from District 4 council member John Dingfelder and his election rivals, Julie Brown and Joseph Citro, and also District 5 council member Frank Reddick ended up at City Hall. They blamed it on clerical errors. Seems some off-limits names weren't purged from mailing lists.
- Terrie Geiger, an aide to council member Shawn Harrison, put invitations to one of his fundraisers in council mailboxes.
"It was totally innocent," Harrison said.
She thought she was inviting colleagues to a family event, and feels "terrible."
And well she should.
A violation is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Whether the errant invites actually warrant any punishment is up to the Florida Elections Commission, said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections.
No word on whether anyone filed a complaint. "They're confidential," said Barbara Linthicum, executive director of the Florida Elections Commission.
Council candidates respond to Tiger Bay
The Tiger Bay Club on Friday put questions to Tampa City Council candidates in the District 4, 5, 6 and 7 races. Here's some of what they had to say:
DISTRICT 4 - SOUTH TAMPA
Julie Brown pledged to start quarterly audits of the city budget to "show you exactly where your tax dollars are being spent."
John Dingfelder touted being part of a council majority that rolled back the property tax rate for the first time in 20 years.
Joseph Citro said all sex offenders should be locked up until they're rehabilitated, and more freshwater should flow into the Hillsborough River to keep it healthy.
DISTRICT 5 - EAST TAMPA
Lynette Judge advocated for a spending cap for the city.
Frank Reddick spoke of offering incentives to small businesses.
Tom Scott said he helped roll back the property tax rate every year he was on the Hillsborough County Commission. But "it's irresponsible now to say you'll roll back taxes without first finding out what the impact will be."
DISTRICT 6 - WEST TAMPA
Charlie Miranda pointed out that Tampa has among lowest water rates in the region, implying they need to go up.
Lisa Tamargo said she would work 24/7 to get things done.
DISTRICT 7 - NORTH TAMPA
Joseph Caetano said he would require every builder to put reclaimed water pipes in with new projects.
Frank Margarella said the city needs to explore mass transit, but warned it will be costly, and take creative thinking to find the money.