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Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman may have violated state election laws

ST. PETERSBURG — Scott Wagman faces a possible Florida Elections Commission investigation over advertisements the first-time mayoral candidate is running on the Internet search engine Google.

The state notified Wagman this week that his computer ads could constitute a violation of state election law.

The ads, which appear when someone searches for other St. Petersburg mayoral candidates, take computer users to Wagman's official campaign Web site.

But the ads do not include the typical disclaimer language for political advertisements.

Peter Schorsch, who was fired as campaign manager for Jamie Bennett, filed a complaint with the elections commission over the ads this month.

Under state rules, Wagman can either pay a fine to stop an investigation or let the state investigate. The fine for failure to identify a paid political advertisement is $200, according to the commission's Web site.

Wagman campaign manager Mitch Kates said Friday the campaign had not decided how to proceed. Kates says Google ads are common to campaigns, and there is no precedence that the ads violate election law.

Schorsch "certainly seems to be on a mission to destroy everybody in his wake," Kates said Friday. "Quite honestly, this is not on the top of my list of things to do. People are voting right now and we are talking to people that are voting. This kind of stuff can be distracting if you let it be."

Mail-in ballots were sent to 58,000 city voters this week. The primary is Sept. 1. Ten candidates are running for mayor.

Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman may have violated state election laws 07/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 9:35pm]
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