Democrats' fundraiser got help paying $200K fine
Jeff Ryan, a top fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party, used donations funneled through a political organization run by a Tallahassee attorney to pay off a $209,000 state elections fine.
Ryan got hit with the fine because he was chairman of an outfit called Florida House Victory, which was set up by then Rep. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, to raise money independently of the state party during a time when legislative leaders were at odds with then party chairman Scott Maddox. (Sound familiar?)
The Florida Elections Commission in 2007 ruled that the fundraising committee -- which was eventually shut down -- accepted campaign contributions above the legal limits. Instead of fighting the charges, which Democrats said were due to technical mistakes made when the paperwork was filed, Ryan agreed to pay a fine of $209,000.
But state election records show that $209,000 was paid to a trust account maintained by well-known Tallahassee ethics and elections attorney Mark Herron to pay off the fine. The money came out of a committee of continuous existence also run by Herron called Mark-PAC.