The most powerful political player in Sarasota County politics and the former chairman of the county Republican Party has been charged with a felony after authorities say he stole the identity of a political rival and made campaign donations in her name to a Democratic candidate for Congress to embarrass her.
Former GOP chairman Bob Waechter, a public official on the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority, was charged by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office with the criminal use of a stolen identity for allegedly buying a prepaid debit card to make a campaign donation in the name of Lourdes Ramirez, a Siesta Key Republican.
The Sheriff's Office said that Waechter made the $200 donation in Ramirez's name to Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald's campaign. Fitzgerald was running against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. Waechter also made a $35 donation in Ramirez's name to Sarasota Democrat Liz Alpert, who ran against State Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, in November.