ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Elections Commission has found probable cause that City Council member Jamie Bennett failed to properly identify a campaign advertisement during his mayoral bid this year.
Bennett, who placed sixth in September's 10-way mayoral primary, agreed to pay a $250 fine and did not contest the commission's finding in a consent order last month.
In most cases, state campaign laws require candidates to include a political disclaimer in campaign material. The settlement's terms state that Bennett is neither admitting nor denying the violation.
The complaint stems from a chalk message written on a Central Avenue sidewalk advertising a Bennett fundraiser.
Bennett said the chalk artist forgot to add the required disclaimer. He paid the fine to put the matter behind him.
"The campaign was over," he said. "I wanted to close it up."
The complaint was filed by Bennett's former campaign manager, Peter Schorsch, who was fired mid campaign after it was revealed that Schorsch handed out baseball tickets to the city's Tropicana Field suite along with Bennett's political literature and contribution request.
The complaint was one of several filed against Bennett this year. Many stemmed from Bennett's relationship with Schorsch, who claimed Bennett tried to pay him under the table and encouraged him to pass out city baseball tickets to neighborhood leaders. Those complaints were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Cristina Silva can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8846.