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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ex-Cabinet hopeful faces massive fines for campaign violations



For Thaddeus "Thad" Hamilton, the worst part wasn't his landslide loss to Adam Putnam in the 2014 race for Florida agriculture commissioner. It turns out that was the least of his problems.

Hamilton, a Democrat from Broward County, lawyer and retired U.S. Army officer, was scheduled to go before the Florida Elections Commission Wednesday. He's accused in a 73-count report of "deliberately" violating campaign finance laws by failing to report campaign contributions, omitting required information about donations, incorrectly listing in-kind donations as reimbursements and keeping a negative bank balance in his account.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner's office referred the case to the FEC after saying it repeatedly tried to reach Hamilton to force him to correct his campaign finance reports and avoid more serious legal problems. In a lengthy summary of the case, the state quotes Hamilton as saying in a June 2015 conversation, "I don't understand what the problem is."

He also attributed problems to the fact that his wife Karen, who was his campaign treasurer, had medical problems, forcing him to prepare the reports himself.

Hamilton could face $73,000 in fines alone, and the agency has the right to impose penalties up to three times the monetary amount of the violations themselves.  He had run for office three times previously, for agriculture commissioner in 2010 and twice for a soil and water conservation district post in Broward.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 11:13am]


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