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Ethics and election complaints filed against St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Jamie Bennett

ST. PETERSBURG — A city resident on Wednesday filed state ethics and elections complaints against mayoral candidate and City Council member Jamie Bennett for allegedly distributing city-issued baseball tickets in connection with his campaign.

James F. Donelon, the former president of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club, says Bennett gave away Tampa Bay Rays tickets to the city's box suite in exchange for endorsements and donations, according to complaints mailed to the Florida Elections Commission and the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Donelon also claims Bennett attempted to pay his former campaign manager through a third party rather than have the expenditures appear on quarterly campaign finance reports.

The complaints themselves are confidential, but Donelon provided copies to the St. Petersburg Times. He said he mailed them to Tallahassee on Wednesday.

"Bennett's a sleazebag," Donelon said. "Always has been. Always will."

Bennett did not return a call seeking comment.

The complaints stem from a St. Petersburg Times investigation into how Bennett, an eight-year council member, distributed his tickets to the city's suite at Tropicana Field. Bennett admitted last month that he used his campaign manager to hand out the tickets but said it had nothing to do with the campaign.

After an initial story, a city neighborhood association president said he received his tickets to a game against the Boston Red Sox in a campaign folder that included a fundraising letter.

Bennett said he did not know about the giveaway and fired Peter Schorsch, the man Bennett says was responsible.

"I don't know how much more I can say," Bennett said in an interview Tuesday. "I fired the guy. I apologized."

For the latest news in the race for St. Petersburg mayor, go to www.tampabay.com/mayor.

Ethics and election complaints filed against St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Jamie Bennett 05/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:48pm]
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