Wednesday, September 19, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas Commission candidate calls police on Times reporter at fundraiser

Pinellas County Commission candidate Amy Kedron called police on Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Puente when he attempted to interview her outside of a campaign fundraiser at the Vinoy Marina on Wednesday evening.

Puente said he stood on the marina's public sidewalk and greeted Kedron shortly before 5:30 p.m. as she approached the private gate to board a yacht where the fundraiser took place.

After Puente explained he was preparing to write a story about payments made to her campaign deputy treasurer, William Pena Wells, Kedron walked back to her car where she called St. Petersburg police.

Kedron declined an interview request Thursday and directed questions be sent via email but did not immediately respond to them.

Officers Corinna Branley and Daniel Poveda responded to "a stalking allegation" from Kedron who said she felt unsafe, according to St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez.  Puente said Poveda ran his name through the system to check for warrants and Branley asked for his editor's contact information to make sure he was "here rightfully so and not stalking the candidate."

Fernandez said the officers' questioning was routine to ensure Puente really was a Times reporter.

Fernandez said no charges were filed against Puente and that an informational report, which was unavailable Thursday, was being completed.

"Our reporter was in a public place asking questions of public interest of a candidate, which he has every right to do," said Times Executive Editor Mark Katches.  "These allegations are ridiculous."

Puente remained on the sidewalk until later that evening to attempt to interview Kedron as she left the fundraiser. When she left, Kedron was surrounded by a half dozen people and did not respond to his questions about the payments, Puente said.

Kedron, a Democrat, is running against Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters for the District 6 seat in the Nov. 6 election. Kedron is a former professor at USF St. Petersburg and Ringling College of Art and Design but is currently unemployed.

In August, the Times reported that Kedron faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her. Kedron denied the claims, which came after she filed to run for office in May.

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