IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY:
Our Captain has some serious and shocking news.
Readers of the blog know that Ms. Patricia Marino has not fared well among the blogs readers. Marino's alleged last minute addition to her name has caused a minor riot if not an affray. While Ms. Marino may believe that old Rumpole has it out for her, (as we have heard through the grapevine) we note that we have remained silent on her name change, which is no different than what dozens of other candidates have done over the years.
Now, with our post of the Captain’s report on (in a light most favorable to Judge McWhorter) “accounting errors”, we have some shocking news to report:
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
CAMPAIGN UPDATE -
OR SHOULD I SAY -CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS ?????
IS THE MCWHORTER CAMPAIGN IN HOT WATER?
GROUP 1 - COUNTY COURT This race pits the incumbent Judge McWhorter against the oft maligned, for amending her name at the last minute, Patricia Marino-Pedraza. Ms. Marino has not done too well on the fund-raising circuit. She has only raised $22,558 and has had to add another $45k to the kitty for a total of $67,558.
She needs it, because she has spread her money around to several consulting firms. She has paid Jordan Leonard $5,500; Stanley Shapiro $500; Hipolito Leon $2,500; Miguel Amador $2,000; Ramon Alonso $2,500, for a total of $13,000 so far.
Judge McWhorter, on the other hand, seems to be the master fundraiser, "can you say incumbent judge". She has amassed $99,373 and only kicked in $100 of her own money. She also has only given $750 in consulting fees to one Daisy Castellanos.
But the more important news is this: As our educated readers of the BLOG know, the maximum contribution is $500.
Well, here is the problem:
On April 23, 2005, Gonzalo Dorta gave $500. On June 18, 2005, Dorta gave another $250. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
On April 22, 2005, Burnadette Norris-Weeks gave $500. On July 28, 2005 she gave another $100. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
On May 17, 2005, the law firm of Weiss, Serota gave $500.
On March 17, 2006 they contributed another $250. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
Each time she accepted the second donation, she violated the law which clearly states that a campaign may not accept more than $500 from one particular person or organization.
Now her campaign did finally refund the money to each of the three contributors.
But she waited until April 5, 2006 to do so.
That means she held the illegal contributions for 10 months on Dorta, 9 months on Weeks and three weeks on Weiss, Serota.
Now the really bad news: according to FS 106.08 (7)(a) and (7)(b): a candidate that accepts donations in excess of the maximum $500 allowed by law commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if they accept one donation in excess of the limit (7)(a) and it becomes a Felony of the Third Degree when the candidate accept two or more illegal contributions (7)(b).
So readers, what do you have to say now.......
AND THE CAPTAIN HAS SPOKEN .....
Rumpole wonders: 1- what is the effect of returning the money? 2- Is there scienter involved in the crime, meaning that intent to violate the law needs to be proved?
3- At any campaign fundraiser we have been at, we have seen nothing by any judge or candidate to check and make sure people are not giving too much. Usually the problem is that people like us show up, drop a carefully folded check for $50.00 in the jar, and eat $100.00 worth of shrimp and cheese. We feel we are on safe ground by saying that most candidates rely on the contributor to make sure they have not given over $500.00.
That being said, the buck stops at the top and Judge McWhorter is responsible for her campaign.
For those of you ready to howl because we started the post by stating that we viewed the facts at the moment in the light most favourable to Judge McWhorter, this is something we would do with any candidate in the closing weeks of the race, PENDING A FINDING OF WRONGDOING (which is what happened to Judge Hernandez.)
It should also be noted that taking $600.00 improperly when you have raised almost $100,000.00 is not an earthshaking accusation.
However, we reiterate: The Buck Stops with the Judge and she should address this issue.
See You In Court with our checkbook firmly tucked away.