Monday, September 24, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Kriseman stands by his support for Pinellas County Commission candidate Amy Kedron

Democrat Amy Kedron held a fundraiser for her Pinellas County Commission campaign Wednesday aboard a yacht docked in St. Petersburg. It didn’t attract any county leaders, but St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman offered support.

Kriseman reiterated that Kedron is a better candidate than Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters.

"I stand by what I said," Kriseman said as he left the Vinoy Marina.

Last month, Kriseman told the Tampa Bay Times that Kedron “would do the best job. She would continue the great relationship” between the county and city.

Kriseman made those comments when the Times reported that Kedron faced accusations since May of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiancé, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.

Kedron denied the allegations, saying the man was trying to destroy her campaign.

Pinellas County Commission Democratic candidate Amy Kedron is running for the District 6 seat. [Kedron campaign]
Pinellas County Commission Democratic candidate Amy Kedron is running for the District 6 seat. [Kedron campaign]
Kedron, 42, a former University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor, announced her candidacy for District 6 on May 1 in a Republican–heavy race for the seat that longtime Commissioner John Morroni held since 2000. He died in May.

None of the four Democratic commissioners — Ken Welch, Janet Long, Pat Gerard and Charlie Justice — attended Wednesday’s event on the 84-foot NSS Pattam. The yacht is owned by Pat and Matt Bochk and did not leave the dock during Kedron’s fundraiser.

With a $250 donation in May, Gerard has been the only commissioner to show support for the political newcomer.

Kedron, a Buffalo native, earned law and doctoral degrees at the University of Buffalo but has never taken a bar exam in Florida to work as an attorney. She had spent years working on social, economic, and environmental issues around the Buffalo business community.

She moved to Florida in 2010 to work as a professor at USF St. Petersburg and Ringling College of Art and Design. During her time in Florida, she has faced two cancer battles.

While she is currently unemployed, Kedron declared a negative net worth of $278,358 as of December 2017, according to campaign filings.

Without a job, Kedron told the Times last month that she had to take out "emergency loans" to pay daily expenses.

Kedron has raised $27,600 between May and Aug. 24, according to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections' campaign finance reports.

So far, Kedron has spent $20,323 on things such as filing fees, printing and office supplies, records show. Of that, Kedron paid $9,505 to her deputy treasurer William Pena Wells for "consulting fees." She made an $8,000 payment on Aug. 13, records show.

Wells, 59, an attorney who lost a bid in 2012 for a judgeship in South Florida, doesn't have a history of managing campaigns in the area. The Times could not find anything online that lists him as a campaign operative.

He is an artist. His website devoted to his artwork calls him a “practicing attorney with an interest in trademark, copyright, and intellectual property.”

His Facebook page lists him as the vice president of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club and the former treasurer of the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus. He is also the former program vice chair of the Miami-Dade Democrats.

The Times asked Wells to explain the consulting work he provided and whether he returned any money to help Kedron pay living expenses.

"Sir, I am not comfortable answering that question. Amy needs to answer that," Wells said Wednesday afternoon.

Hours later, Kedron declined numerous attempts to discuss the campaign expenditures.

On Thursday, the Times asked Wells to identify campaigns he helped lead or consulted on in Pinellas County.

"I don't have any responses to any of your questions," Wells said. "Thank you for being diligent in your work."

He then hung up.

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