Beckner removes campaign link from county website
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner removed from his county-operated website a link to a Facebook page for his campaign Thursday after the Tampa Bay Times asked him questions about it.
Promoting campaign material from a taxpayer-funded website is a no-no and it apparently has gone on for more than a year. But Beckner said Friday he wasn’t aware it was there and promptly removed it after the Times messaged him about it.
Beckner is challenging Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank in next month’s Democratic primary.
“It was brought to our attention that the link was there and we brought it down,” he said.
Beckner said the Facebook icon with a link to his page was added to his commissioner website in January 2015. At the time it only posted news about county business by an aide in his office, Jennifer Groff, in charge of keeping up his social media accounts.
But in April 2015, after he launched his campaign, news about the race was posted to it as well by campaign manager Nick Janovsky. For the next year, the page alerted followers to both commission alerts — like office hours and news about Beckner — and campaign updates like fundraisers and other events.
According to the “About Me” section, the Kevin Beckner Facebook page is a “Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Kevin Beckner, Democrat, for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court.” It links to both his campaign website, www.KevinBeckner.com, and his official commission website, www.commissionerbeckner.com. The page still has archived posts from his 2012 campaign for commissioner, though they’re not readily visible.
Beckner maintains another page dedicated to his campaign for clerk, “Volunteers and supporters of Kevin Beckner.”
“When Jennifer set that up there was no campaign. We were not running for office,” Beckner said. “She just took my Facebook page I had and linked it from the county website. And when I started running for office, she still posted stuff to that page but Nick was posting campaign stuff to it too.
“As we went into campaign mode, nobody thought about the link from the county page,” he added. “Certainly I didn’t realize the link that was there.”