Grundy spent more than $600 in campaign money on clothes, dry cleaning


District 1 candidate Armando Grundy speaks during a 90-minute forum co-hosted by the Alachua County Young Democrats and the University of Florida College Democrats at Matthews Suite inside UF's Reitz Union on Nov. 28, 2011, in Gainesville. The candidate spent more than $600 in campaign money on clothes and dry cleaning

Max Reed/Correspondent/File
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.

The 11 candidates for two open City Commission seats spent $27,086.87 on their campaigns through Dec. 23, spending most of the money on signs, postage, websites, food for parties, voter data and qualifying fees.

One of those candidates, Armando Grundy, who is running for the District 1 seat, spent more than $600 in campaign money on dress clothing and dry cleaning -- 15 percent of his total campaign expenditures of $4,030.62, which according to campaign-finance reports released Friday included copies, advertising and a website.

The Federal Election Commission in 2009 ruled that candidates for national office cannot use campaign money to purchase clothing, but the state of Florida has allowed such purchases as long as they can be shown to be election-related.

In mid-November, Grundy spent $405.98 at Casual Male XL, a big-and-tall store, $80 at Walmart and $50 at Belk. He also spent $72.21 in December on dry cleaning at S&S Cleaners.

He has given $1,000 of his own money to his campaign. In an interview Wednesday, Grundy said people might question some of the campaign's expenditures but defended the purchases.

“Nothing we did was illegal,” he said.

Christie Burrus, the executive assistant to the chief of staff in Florida's Department of State, said state law “permits expenditures if they are used to influence the results of an election -- making a presentable appearance on the campaign trail may influence an election.”

Grundy said he purchased dress shirts, a sports jacket, slacks and a tie with the money.

“That's stuff that I wear on the campaign,” he said. “It wasn't just for personal use.”

Scherwin Henry, the current District 1 commissioner who is not running on account of term limits and is backing Grundy, said he spoke with the candidate about the clothing and dry-cleaning purchases but also noted they were legal.

“Was it a lapse in judgment? I would agree with that,” Henry said.

“He felt it was very important to be presentable to the public, which I don't disagree with. If you are running for the part, you have to look the part,” Henry said. “That wasn't the best decision, and it shouldn't be repeated. It hasn't dampened my support. People make mistakes. Not that this was illegal, because it wasn't, but it does look bad to some people in the public.”

Grundy, 32, who works at the Walmart Supercenter on Waldo Road, is running for the seat against retired educator Yvonne Hinson-Rawls, 64, and lawyer Ray Washington, 56.

With $6,828 in total contributions as of Dec. 23, Grundy has outraised both of his opponents -- Hinson-Rawls raised $6,260, while Washington brought in $5,847.31 -- heading into the final weeks of the campaign before the Jan. 31 election.

For Grundy, 14.65 percent of the money came from his bank account, while Hinson-Rawls contributed 1.6 percent of her campaign donations.

Most of Washington's campaign account -- 86.75 percent -- was filled with donations from himself or his wife.

Grundy is the only candidate in the District 1 race who filed an affidavit of undue burden, swearing that “I am unable to pay the 1percent election assessment fee for that office without imposing an undue burden on my personal resources or on resources otherwise available to me.”

The fee is $304.03, 1 percent of the $30,403.32 salary for a commissioner.

Gainesville ordinances allow for candidates to waive the fee without having to submit petition signatures to get on the ballot, said Pam Carpenter, the Alachua County supervisor of elections.

In the other upcoming City Commission race, for the At-large 1 seat, two of the eight candidates -- Dejeon Cain and Mark Venzke -- filed an affidavit of undue burden.

Grundy said he filed that affidavit before he thought he would be able to give $1,000 to his campaign.

“It would have been an undue burden on me personally,” he said.

Contact Chad Smith at 338-3104 or chad.smith@gvillesun.com.

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