Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Skinny on 2002 election campaign oversight by Florida Sixth Circuit Republican judges

In 2002 Florida's Pasco County GOP spent $7,339.50 for fliers (its most expense mailing) endorsing five canidates for the Sixth Circuit Court. Problem is, the money was not reported in the party's campaign finance reports and neither were three $2,500 contributions from relatives of three of the judicial candidates. The GOP was fined just $3,000 by the Florida Elections Commission, but the fine could have been as high as $48,000. The candidates endorsed in the mailing included sitting Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb, and new candidates Linda Allan and John Renke III, both of whom won. Two losing candidates were also on the flier.

Circuit Judge John Renke III had other problems. His father, former Republican state Rep. and state GOP committeeman, John Renke II managed his campaign. According to an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times, during his campaign, Judge Renke III, "portrayed himself as a seasoned litigator, even though he had little courtroom experience; as a sitting judge, even though he was a first-time candidate; and as having the endorsement of Clearwater firefighters, even though no such backing existed. Most notably, Renke "or close family members" participated in partisan political activities and campaigned on his behalf as a member of a political party in violation of judicial rules governing nonpartisan elections, according to the Judicial Qualifying Commission."

See SPT1, SPT2

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