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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Jamie Bennett cleared on election complaints



ST. PETERSBURG - The Florida Elections Commission has deemed two complaints recently filed against mayoral hopeful and City Council member Jamie Bennett legally insuffcient.

St. Petersburg resident Jim Donelon filed two complaints against Bennett last month regarding alleged errors on his most recent campaign treasurer's report.

The complaints claimed Bennett failed to report cash payments made to former campaign manager Peter Schorsch. Donelon did not specify what the payments were for.

Donelon, a supporter of mayoral hopeful Kathleen Ford, also alleged Bennett accepted in-kind donations in excess of the state's $500 limit. Bennett gave his campaign roughly $1,500 in in-kind donations.

"Upon review of Mr. Bennett's campaign treasurer's report to which you refer in your complaint, it appears the in-kind contributions were from Mr. Bennett himself. Under section 106.08(1)(b), Florida Statutes, the $500 contribution limit does not apply to 'amounts contributed by a candidate to his or her own campaign,' " wrote Simone Marstiller, executive director of the Florida Elections Commission, in a letter to Donelon this week.

As for the other complaint, Marstiller said a previous complaint Donelon filed against Bennett in May alleged, "the same thing." State statute prohibits the commission from investigating the same complaint filed by one complainant twice.

 "Your second complaint does not set forth any facts distinguishing it from the first complaint," Marstiller wrote. "Therefore it appears the commission lacks the authority to investigate your current allegation."

Donelon's complaint from May was also deemed legally insufficient.

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:02pm]


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