[an error occurred while processing this directive]
By LEONORA LaPETER
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford has dipped into her campaign account to pay a $1,000 state election fee she originally said she couldn't afford.
Ford, a City Council member since 1997, said last week she thought the fee was supposed to come from her personal account, which she said had only $300 at the time. She said she didn't realize she could use campaign contributions to pay the fee.
But during Ford's District 4 Council race in 1997, she paid the $311 fee from her campaign account, city records show.
On Thursday, a day after Ford paid the fee, she declined to discuss it further.
"The campaign agreed to pay it; it's written on a campaign check," she said. "I'm not talking anymore about that. I paid the fee."
Ford and her husband, Harvey, live in a home she valued at $275,000 in the Old Northeast, have a child in private school and own stocks valued at more than $20,000.
Ford, an attorney who has let her practice lapse, makes $23,337 a year in her part-time job as a City Council member. She has said the salary is not nearly enough to cover the $1,000 fee and believes her family's financial resources should not be considered.
The $1,000 state fee, which represents 1 percent of the mayor's annual salary of $100,000, goes to the state Election Commission to help pay for investigations into campaign finance abuses. Candidates must also pay a qualifying fee, which is automatically waived if the candidate gathers enough petition signatures. Ford qualified using signatures.
Ford was one of four mayoral candidates who filed an affidavit stating that the $1,000 fee would be an "undue burden." Also filing were Louis Miceli, a factory worker; Patrick Bailey, a collection agency owner; and Maria Scruggs Weston, who works at St. Anthony's Hospital.