Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg council candidate Bill Dudley is 2nd to lean heavily on single donor

ST. PETERSBURG — A second candidate for City Council has gotten a major infusion of cash for his campaign war chest thanks to the efforts of a generous donor.

Last month, Bob Kersteen's campaign received $5,000 from Bill Edwards, which made up about a third of the money he had raised. Edwards is the owner of BayWalk and the manager of the city-owned Mahaffey Theater.

Turns out that Bill Dudley, the incumbent in the council's District 3 seat, has received about 35 percent of his contributions via another donor with strong ties to a city vendor.

Jonathan Stanton, president of a semiconductor company called NAC Group and his wife contributed $1,000 to Dudley's campaign on Dec. 8. According to Dudley, Stanton also collected money from friends, family and business associates to contribute another $4,500. Through Oct. 14, Dudley had raised $15,702 for his Nov. 8 contest against Brent Hatley.

A former teacher at Northeast High School, Dudley said he taught Stanton in the 1990s.

In 2007, Dudley said, Stanton helped raise more than $10,000 for his council campaign. Wanting to scare off potential challengers this year, Dudley went to Stanton again.

"My thought was, raise a bunch of money to show that I was serious," Dudley said. "So I called up Jonathan and said 'I'm running for re-election, will you be willing to raise money for me?' He said 'absolutely.' Two weeks later, he said he had the money."

One of the contributions that Stanton gave Dudley was $500 from Lema Construction & Developers, Inc. According to Florida corporate records, Stanton was Lema's president in 2009. Its president now is John Von Hof. Corporate records show that the address for Stanton's current business — 10001 16th St. N — is the same address for Lema.

Lema is a major city vendor.

On May 20, 2010, the City Council members and Dudley voted on consent — meaning it was on the part of the agenda where items weren't discussed and were approved automatically — a $1.6 million contract for Lema to build the new Lake Maggiore Fire Station No. 8. Dudley attended the station's Sept. 6 grand opening, which was touted in a news release for using sustainable energy design.

Today, the City Council will vote on awarding a $1.6 million contract to Lema to install roof top solar panels at 18 buildings in parks throughout the city.

Dudley, 67, said he doesn't see a conflict in accepting a sizable portion of his contributions through one person, even one with possible ties to a city vendor. Dudley said at the time he accepted the money, he believed Stanton was affiliated with Lema. Stanton couldn't be reached for comment.

"None of this matters because these contracts go through the bidding process, which I'm not a part of," Dudley said. "There was no impropriety."

Still, council members give final approval for contracts of more than $100,000.

Dudley said he asked city legal staff if he had a conflict and was told he didn't. It's the only time he remembers asking if he needed to abstain from voting.

Still, he doesn't remember when or what type of conflict he might have asked about. Nor does he remember who he asked — City Attorney John Wolfe or Chief Assistant City Attorney Mark Winn.

Neither Wolfe nor Winn said they recalled speaking to Dudley about the matter. Both said, however, that they were certain that there was no conflict for Dudley to accept contributions from vendors. Florida law gives candidates wide parameters in accepting campaign contributions, which are seen by the courts as a form of political speech.

But Hatley, who has raised about $4,500, most of it his own money, said he sees a potential conflict. "Mr. Dudley is the only one who knows if there is a conflict, so he shouldn't have to ask the attorneys if there is one," said Hatley, a radio producer. "If there's a conflict, he should recuse himself from (today's) vote. And sometimes, in politics, appearance of a conflict is bad enough."

Times researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this story. Michael Van Sickler can be reached at or (727) 893-8037.

St. Petersburg council candidate Bill Dudley is 2nd to lean heavily on single donor 11/02/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 6:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Homer-happiness returns against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are back to hitting home runs, which was the norm of the offense for much of the season before the offense went cold.

    Adeiny Hechavarria greets teammate Kevin Kiermaier after his home run during the third inning at the Trop.
  2. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  3. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]