Legislator files elections complaint against Alachua County GOP chief


Published: Monday, October 15, 2012 at 9:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 at 9:43 p.m.

A Jacksonville area state senator has filed an elections complaint against Alachua County Republican Party head Stafford Jones over a political committee Jones chairs that is sending out mailers attacking Democratic legislative candidates while listing no contributions or expenditures.

The committee, known as “Progressives,” organized in late August and lists Jones as its treasurer and chairman, according to Division of Elections records.

The committee’s organizing paperwork was submitted to the state by the Tallahassee-based law firm of Richard E. Coates, the general counsel for the Republican Party of Florida.

Progressives has sent out mailers targeting at least eight Democratic candidates in Florida Senate races, including those in Jacksonville, Volusia County, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Delray Beach, according to the Orlando Sentinel and copies of mailers included with the complaint filed with the Florida Elections Commission.

State Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, one of the candidates targeted in the mailer, filed the complaint. It alleges that Jones and the committee violated state law by filing false campaign treasurer reports and not reporting contributions and expenditures.

While mailers with the disclaimer “paid electioneering communication paid for by Progressives” have gone out since early September, the committee had not reported any contributions or expenditures through the reporting period that ended Oct. 12.

“There’s no way you can have literature produced and mailed without expenditures,” Gibson said in an interview Monday. “It’s impossible.”

Gibson also said she believed the committee name “Progressives” was intentionally misleading because it’s a term typically associated with Democratic or liberal candidates.

Jones could not be reached for comment Monday.

If the Elections Commission finds that there was a violation, it remains to be seen if there would be any consequences. Under Florida Statute 106, an officer of a political committee is not personally liable for any fines levied against it.

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