Missing: Ross Spano’s financial disclosure required to run for Congress

The report could show a source for the personal money Spano has put into his campaign, $104,500 as of Oct. 17.
Rep. Ross Spano
Rep. Ross Spano
Published Nov. 2, 2018

With only a few days left until the Nov. 6 election, Ross Spano, the Republican candidate for the congressional district 15 seat, apparently hasn't filed his legally required personal financial disclosure, according to the website of the House clerk.

A California graduate student with an interest in politics said he has filed a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department about the failure to file.

Spano said Friday that he "understood it was filed" by his staff, but that if it hasn't been, "We'll make sure it's done promptly."

The report could show a source for the personal money Spano has put into his campaign, $104,500 as of Oct. 17.

Spano's state financial disclosures, filed as a state House member, which require less information than the form for federal candidates, don't appear to show enough cash available to provide that amount.

Asked about that, Spano said, "State disclosures don't require us to indicate anything that my wife has. … She can certainly loan it to me."

Spano's state disclosures, which cover through the end of 2017, don't show any such loan from his wife, but he said the federal form would show any such loan, without confirming whether there actually was one.

"Whatever would be filed or has to be filed would certainly show that," he said. "When it's filed you'll have the information."

He promised Friday morning to provide the Times a copy of the disclosure but hadn't done so by the end of the day.

The disclosure was due May 18, but Spano requested and got an extension until July 17. It did not appear on the House clerk's web site Friday afternoon.

Juan Lamata, a Stanford University graduate student who said he has no connection to this race, told the Times he filed the complaint in the form of a letter to the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Justice Department. The Times received a copy of the letter from sources with the Florida Democratic Party.

A spokesperson for that office didn't respond to inquiries for comment by deadline Friday; spokesmen for the House Clerk's Office and the House Ethics Committee wouldn't comment.

The committee's handbook on disclosures says it has up to 45 days to post filed disclosures on its website.

Forms filed digitally, however, are normally posted quickly.

Tallahassee elections law expert Mark Herron referred a reporter to a section of U.S. law saying it's illegal to fail to file the reports or file a false report, and the U.S. attorney general may bring a civil action against someone who fails to file.

The Ethics Committee's handbook says the penalty is a possible fine of up to $59,028.

Spano faces Democrat Kristen Carlson in the race for the House seat from District 15, covering east Hillsborough and parts of Polk and Lake counties, which is being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland.

Carlson spokesman Conor Hurley called Spano's "refusal to release his personal finances should be disqualifying."