Tallahassee, Florida- August 6, 2012
There's new controversy involving Leon County Democrats sending out a mailer targeting one candidate in the Tallahassee City Commission Seat One race.
That race is supposed to be non-partisan.
However, in the overwhelmingly Democratic County, some local party leaders would like to make it a partisan race.
Former Leon County Democratic Party Chairman Jon Ausman was at a recent party meeting.
He said he tried to get approval for a mailer to registered Democrats naming three Republican candidates in the city and county commission races.
But he says his motion was never heard.
Instead he said current party chairman Richard Junnier said they had two donors willing to give money for a mailer, but with a condition.
"The chairman pointed out the money would not be donated unless it was only oriented toward the city commission race", said Ausman.
In an e-mail exchange with Junnier, the chairman told us the party solicited donors to help with budget priorities and "the Leon County Democratic Party also seeks to alert voters to candidates with tea-party allegiences", wrote Junnier.
In a specific reference to Tallahassee City Commission candidate Steve Stewart, Junnier wrote, "I support all five of Mr. Stewart's challengers."
However Stewart has repeatedly denied any affiliation with the Tea Party.
When we asked Junnier to give us proof, he didn't respond.
It's not the first time local Democrats have targeted Stewart with a mailer.
As we first reported in February, the party gave money to Mayor John Marks' 2010 re-election campaign for a mailer targeting Stewart.
Under Florida law, a political party may not accept any contributions that have been specifically designated for the partial or exclusive use of a particular candidate.
A complaint against the Democrats led to the party paying a fine.
And the Florida Elections Commission has found enough evidence to believe party treasurer Bob Henderson, who was involved in a January scuffle over the incident, violated that law.
A hearing for Henderson is pending.
Ausman believes a second mailer targeting Stewart is a bad idea.
"I think it would be wise if they did not go out," said Ausman.
When asked if he made that position clear at the meeting, Ausman said, "Among other people."
We left a voice message for Bob Henderson.
He did not return our call.
Steve Stewart says he's not commenting for now until he can determine who's responsible for the mailer.