Is dental work a legitimate campaign expense? Lisa Wheeler-Brown says it is
Lisa Wheeler-Brown, a St. Petersburg City Council candidate, has amended her campaign filings twice in the last week, conceding she used political contributions for personal medical expenses, a possible violation of state law.
Wheeler-Brown's campaign first acknowledged Friday that the $500 her report listed as an expense for renting office space was actually used for emergency dental work.
That admission revealed a second misrepresentation that wasn't corrected until five days later. If the money her campaign said was spent to lease office space was actually spent to repair a cracked tooth, what then paid the office rent? A second amended report filed Wednesday explained that the rent was paid by an in-kind contribution of $180 by Advantage Village Academy, a local non-profit.
A curt statement from Wheeler-Brown's campaign downplayed the confusion as "simple clerical errors". Although the erroneous campaign reports were first filed in February, it wasn't until this past week that they were corrected.
Asked about the delay, Wheeler-Brown's campaign manager said the errors were discovered only recently.
"Once we found it, we fixed it," Meagan Salisbury said, without elaborating on when the discovery was made.
The mishaps revealed an ugly rupture between Wheeler-Brown and her former campaign treasurer, Nick Janovsky.
Soon after minimizing the errors, Salisbury blamed Janovsky for giving bad advice to the candidate.
"He (Janovsky) was the general consultant to her campaign and all decisions on spending disclosures were made by him," Salisbury said. Wheeler-Brown declined any comment. When reached for a response, Janovsky said he quit after "catching" Wheeler-Brown withdrawing money from her campaign account.
That's why he left well before the first campaign financial report was filed, he said.
Read all about it here.