Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco judge rules in favor of Florida Green Party on conspiracy claim

Florida Green Party officials have won a legal battle in Pasco County that they believe could expose a 2008 election conspiracy and prompt a formal state investigation.

In a ruling believed to be the first of its kind in Florida, a judge granted the party's request to subpoena financial records and question a former candidate to determine whether she fraudulently entered a state legislative race.

"I'm very, very encouraged that we are going to get closer to finding out the truth," said Jayne King, co-chairwoman of the state Green Party.

The dispute concerns the candidacy of Sarah Roman, who changed her party affiliation to enter the contested race for Hernando County's House District 44 as a Green Party candidate.

The 22-year-old from Port Richey is one of the so-called Florida Five — a group of five mysterious Green Party candidates, previously unknown to party officials, who quietly entered five strategic legislative races across the state last year.

King alleged in court papers that Roman was recruited "for the purpose of diverting votes … solely as a means for manipulating the election process."

The Green Party specifically targeted Roman because she listed a net worth of $5,200 but managed to loan herself $2,000 to pay the filing fee.

Skeptics believe someone else paid the fee and it wasn't reported as a campaign contribution as required.

Roman's attorney, Jeff Lucas, said even with the court's order, the Green Party's "fishing expedition" would lead nowhere. He also suggested the ruling would encourage frivolous complaints, which the Legislature moved to curtail a couple of years ago.

The Feb. 23 ruling by Pasco Circuit Judge Stanley Mills allows the Green Party to "seek evidence which may justify the (party) in filing a sworn Election Commission complaint."

At the moment, the party doesn't have enough evidence to file a formal complaint with the state Division of Elections. State law requires a sworn statement based on personal knowledge, not hearsay.

Tallahassee attorney Ron Meyer, who is representing the Green Party, wants Roman to produce bank records showing where she received the money for the filing fee and testify under oath about whether someone asked her to run for office. He also suggested he would request records from the other questionable Green Party candidates, including one from Hillsborough County.

Roman's attorney dismissed any insinuation of a conspiracy theory. He also asserted that Roman's candidacy didn't affect the outcome of the race. Republican incumbent Robert Schenck won the November election, topping Democrat Jason Melton by more than 10,000 ballots. Roman drew 4,800 votes.

In his ruling, Mills said he struck a balance between the requirement for a sworn complaint and the potential for a "chilling effect on the filing of such complaints" if individuals can't get the necessary evidence.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Pasco judge rules in favor of Florida Green Party on conspiracy claim 03/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 8:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.