Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Complaint filed over mailer about candidate in Pinellas School Board race

A political mailer put out by Florida First has triggered an elections complaint against the electioneering group and Elliott Stern, a candidate for Pinellas County School Board.

In her complaint, Jasmina Forcan of Clearwater claims that a mailer put out by the Bradenton-based group violates state law because it "expressly advocates" for Stern's election to the countywide District 1 seat. She also accuses Stern's campaign treasurer, Jean Giles Wittner, of paying for the mailer with a $20,000 donation to Florida First in June.

Stern said Thursday that he wasn't involved in the Florida First material.

"Candidates are not supposed to have anything to do with PACs and I don't," he said.

In an email, Wittner said her contribution to Florida First was given "without any promise or commitment or strings attached from them that any of those dollars would be spent in behalf of Elliott Stern."

She also wrote that she had been assured that her donation was "valid and legal."

Forcan declined to comment on her complaint.

Stern is trying to unseat School Board member Janet Clark. Other challengers include Shelly Ladd-Gilbert, a business owner; and Jim Jackson, a retired college professor.

Political candidates in Florida can't receive more than $500 from each donor in a primary and a general election. Electioneering groups, however, can raise and spend unlimited amounts — but can't advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate.

Forcan's complaint says the political mailer advocates for Stern by listing his campaign website,, and showing a photo with a campaign sign.

The main text of the flier says "Call Elliott Stern and thank him for his bold school-to-work plan."

Complaints to the Florida Elections Commission in Tallahassee are confidential until an investigation has been completed. The person making the complaint, however, can make it public.

Complaint filed over mailer about candidate in Pinellas School Board race 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Hogs: During drought, hundreds of Tampa Bay homes guzzled a gallon of water a minute


    When Amalie Oil president Harry Barkett plunked down $6.75-million for his Bayshore Boulevard mansion, he picked up 12.5 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, an elevator and a deck bigger than some one-bedroom apartments.

    During one of the worst droughts in the Tampa Bay region's history, hundreds of houses used more than a gallon of water a minute. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times

  2. PolitiFact Florida checks out Rick Baker's talking point about the growth of St. Petersburg's A-rated schools


    Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg mayor
  3. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
  4. Clearwater suspect due in court after 9 die in sweltering San Antonio truck


    SAN ANTONIO — Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  5. Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage


    ST. PETERSBURG — A draft report lays blame for the city's sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]