[UPDATE] Leon Co. Commissioner Proctor Owes $80K to Elections Commission

By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

[UPDATE]

STATEMENT FROM LEON COUNTY COMMISSIONER BILL PROCTOR:

Commissioner Bill Proctor Says FEC Should Challenge the
New Legislative Election “Reform/Deform” Law
It saddens me that the Florida Elections Commission may reduce itself to a
partisan search and destroy panel geared toward intimidating and aggravating
those deemed as undesired political voices.
This is why I recommend that this panel should reinvent itself to become a
heavyweight champion fighting for the interest of all Floridians. This fight should
begin with the FEC investigating and challenging the entire package of election
laws that passed the Legislature last week. This legislation possibly violates the
Federal Voting Rights Act and severely compromises the potential voting
privileges of millions of Florida voters. These violations inflict an inestimable
value.
Florida does not need another teenchie-weensie pip-squeak minded agency that
has lost its way pertaining to a universal mission to protect, enhance and secure
the voting privileges of citizens. Clearly, the FEC should not join the legislature
as a small minded self advancing outfit that hurts, harms and maims children,
elderly, sick, students, workers, poor and non propertied Floridians.
Challenging these draconian new election rules should be the order of the day for
the FEC and determining why the Florida Legislature has conspired to minimize
and marginalize Florida’s democratic voters. This review should be immediate,
non partisan and conducted with all deliberate speed.

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UPDATED 5.12.2011 7:30pm

Late this afternoon, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor issued the following statement in response to the story on his unpaid fines:

Commissioner Bill Proctor Says FEC Should challenge the
New Legislative Election “Reform/Deform” Law.

"It saddens me that the Florida Elections Commission may reduce itself to a partisan search and destroy panel geared toward intimidating and aggravating those deemed as undesired political voices. This is why I recommend that this panel should reinvent itself to become a heavyweight champion fighting for the interest of all Floridians."

"This fight should begin with the FEC investigating and challenging the entire package of election laws that passed the Legislature last week. This legislation possibly violates the
Federal Voting Rights Act and severely compromises the potential voting privileges of millions of Florida voters. These violations inflict an inestimable value."

"Florida does not need another teenchie-weensie pip-squeak minded agency that has lost its way pertaining to a universal mission to protect, enhance and secure the voting privileges of citizens. Clearly, the FEC should not join the legislature as a small minded self advancing outfit that hurts, harms and maims children,
elderly, sick, students, workers, poor and non propertied Floridians."

"Challenging these draconian new election rules should be the order of the day for the FEC and determining why the Florida Legislature has conspired to minimize and marginalize Florida’s democratic voters. This review should be immediate, non partisan and conducted with all deliberate speed."

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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 12, 2011 -

Candidates, consultants and political organizations owe the Florida Elections Commission almost $1.4 million in unpaid fines from cases stretching as far back as 1990, state records show.

The debts in 184 cases -- many of which are already being written off by the state -- has prompted members of the panel to consider whether and how to go after those who have defied an order to pay up for as long as 20 years. But the issue is complicated by how much authority the commission even has to use potentially effective tools to try to extract payments from the scofflaws.

The vast majority of the unpaid fines are for $5,000 or less, but there are also a handful of large payments outstanding. Ted Brabham, a former chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic party, owes more than a third of the total amount, more than $468,000 -- the result of a scandal during the 1996 election.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the money,” Brabham said Wednesday. “ ... I couldn’t pay 10 percent of it.”

More familiar names also crop up on the list of those who haven’t paid up.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor owes $82,017, stemming from a 1999 case that included 206 counts against Proctor. That reportedly prompted Proctor to call the panel the “funkiest and foulest low-life demons in existence against black political empowerment since the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Miguel Aguirre, a candidate for mayor of Hialeah Gardens, owes $102,082.74 after a 72-count case against him from 2001.

Peter Schorsch, a political consultant, owes the commission $67,667.50 for a 2005 case against Take Back Tampa Bay, an organization he founded to promote progressive candidates for the Legislature. The case included 40 separate counts.

Schorsch, who also runs the political website St. Petersblog, said he tried to offer a settlement to the commission last year, but the proposal was rejected. Schorsch said he plans to try again.

“While I regret the action which led to these fines, I believe the amount I was fined is beyond punitive, so I have not made any attempt to pay them,” he said.

Other names are regularly in the news or curiosities. Political activist Doug Guetzloe owes $12,000. The Prohibition Party owes $4,567.

Commission members are trying to sort out how to force those who own money to pay up. At a meeting this week, commissioners floated ideas including calling in a collection agency, a process now handled by the Department of Financial Services, according to a memo on the unpaid fines.

“If we can’t enforce it, then why would anybody ever pay us a fine?” said commission member Brian Seymour.

Other commissioners said the panel might be better served by alerting the Legislature or another better-funded agency of the potential windfall for the state.

“For us to spend the limited resources we have, and our time ... I think is not part of what we should be doing,” said member Gregory King.


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