Former Sarasota GOP chairman charged with stealing rival's identity, making political donations
The most powerful political player in Sarasota County politics and the former chairman of the county Republican Party has been charged with a felony after authorities say he stole the identity of a political rival and made campaign donations in her name to a Democratic candidate for Congress to embarrass her.
Former GOP chairman Bob Waechter, a public official on the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority, was charged by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office with the criminal use of a stolen identity for allegedly buying a prepaid debit card to make a campaign donation in the name of Lourdes Ramirez, a Siesta Key Republican.
The Sheriff's Office said that Waechter made the $200 donation in Ramirez's name to Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald's campaign. Fitzgerald was running against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. Waechter also made a $35 donation in Ramirez's name to Sarasota Democrat Liz Alpert, who ran against State Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, in November.