Public may learn what happened to $110,000 in mystery election money

A campaign mystery documented last month by The Palm Beach Post is now the subject of a complaint to the Florida Elections Commission.

What happened to $110,000 paid by a campaign committee run by a Broward County political operative to a company run by that same political operative is the subject of a referral from the Florida Division of Elections to the elections commission, which has the power to investigate elections shenanigans.

The Post linked the money to the Kimberly Mitchell campaign for West Palm Beach mayor. But Amy Rose, the woman who runs the committee and whose Broward company received the money, stands to be the one answering questions about the where the money went — if the commission staff finds legal sufficiency to proceed with an investigation.

The complaint did not come from a citizen, who lacking knowledge would not have had enough information to spark a probe. Instead, the Division of Elections, part of the Florida Department of State, has referred “possible reporting violations” involving the committee, Floridians for Accountability, to the elections commission, spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice told The Post.

The Post could not get Rose on the phone, despite daily phone calls, before its story ran on May 17. The story pointed out that Rose and her company, Win on the Ground Consulting, played no visible role in Mitchell’s campaign. The campaign itself made no payments to Rose’s company for services.

Yet, several big donors with ties to Mitchell consultant Richard Pinsky made contributions to Rose’s Tallahassee-based committee, an electioneering communications organization allowed to coordinate with campaigns but not able to solicit votes for a specific candidate.

In March, the month of the election, the committee received $110,250 in contributions and paid out $110,250, all to Rose’s company. It said the money went for consulting services.

Earlier, it had gotten $52,000 from Mitchell-linked contributors and paid out $6,000 of it. However, during that period, Win on the Ground, Rose’s company, gave $14,000 of its own money to two neighborhood committees backing Mitchell.

The nine-member election commission, appointed by the governor, does not comment on investigations until, meeting in secret, it determines whether there’s probable cause for a hearing. That usually takes months. Investigations are made public whether or not probable cause is found. The decision on the first step, legal sufficiency, is not made public.

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