BRADENTON BEACH – The statement of organization and campaign treasurer’s report recently filed by the Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach (CNOBB) both contain insufficiencies, according to the city clerk and city attorney.
CNOBB filed a statement of organization with the clerk’s office designating the neighborhood group as a political committee on Oct. 24, and filed its first campaign treasurer’s report on Oct. 30.
Both filings prompted City Clerk Terri Sanclemente and City Attorney Ricinda Perry to send letters to CNOBB addressing procedural or statutory insufficiencies.
“I sent them a certified letter sharing what I found to be potential deficiencies they may want to address. If a complaint is filed, it’s up to another governmental body to determine if the filing is compliant with state election law,” according to Sanclemente.
Sanclemente’s letter noted that CNOBB filed its statement of organization and appointment of a registered agent and treasurer more than 10 days after the group was organized, possibly a violation of state law.
“Each political committee that receives contributions or makes expenditures during a calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding $500, or that seeks the signatures of registered electors in support of an initiative, shall file a statement of organization within 10 days after its organization,” according to Chapter 106.03 of the Florida Statutes.
CNOBB adopted its bylaws on June 27. In early August, CNOBB initiated a petition drive to get three charter amendment questions placed on this year’s city ballot. In mid-October, CNOBB mailed out postcards seeking support for its charter amendments.
The statement of organization declares the group’s special interests to be “charter initiatives and educating the public.” Bill Vincent is designated as the political committee’s registered agent and chairperson and John Metz is the treasurer.
Perry said CNOBB’s statement of organization fell short of requirements by failing to provide the names, addresses and positions of any other principal officers; failing to declare if the group intends to continue as a political committee after the city elections; and failing to provide a statement as to when CNOBB was formed as an electioneering communications organization that distributes campaign-related materials.
CNOBB’s initial campaign treasurer’s report covers a self-created reporting period from Aug. 15 to Oct. 27. Bradenton Beach City Commission candidates filed six date-certain campaign treasurer’s reports during that same time frame.
Chapter 106.07 of the Florida Statutes states: “Any candidate or political committee failing to file a report on the designated due date is subject to a fine for each late day.”
On Nov. 2, Sanclemente sent Metz a letter pertaining to his treasurer’s report.
“I have received your campaign treasurer’s report summary and I have found two insufficiencies.
1. Tjet Martin has signed as chairperson on the treasurer’s report you submitted, however Mr. Vincent is listed as the chairperson on the DS-DE 41 (form) submitted on 10/24.
2. The spending of funds before registering as a committee,” the letter said.
When asked about the letter, Sanclemente said the financial report needed to be amended to address the insufficiencies she cited.
Former Mayor Jack Clarke had already filed complaints with the Florida Elections Commission against CNOBB and its steering committee members by the time the overdue statement of organization and campaign treasurer’s report were filed with the city.
The campaign treasurer’s report lists $4,430 in loans and contributions and $3,812 in expenditures.
The report lists 24 $10 or $20 membership fees received between Aug. 15 and Aug. 23; and four more received on Oct. 10. On that same day, CNOBB member and Bradenton Beach Marina President Mike Bazzy contributed $1,070 and Martin loaned CNOBB $1,000. Martin is Mayor Bill Shearon’s life partner and personal caregiver.
On Oct. 23, Metz and CNOBB member Reed Mapes each loaned the political committee $1,000. If the political committee disbands after the elections, any money remaining from the three loans could be reimbursed to those who made them.
The only contribution or loan received after CNOBB filed its statement of organization on Oct. 24 was the $50 former City Commissioner Janie Robertson donated on Oct. 26.
The reports states the Kirkland and Harrison law firm was paid $3,000 on Oct. 23 for legal services associated with CNOBB’s efforts to get their charter amendments placed on the ballot. The $396 expenditure for campaign postcards and $154 expenditure for postage are dated Oct. 10. The $80 reimbursement to CNOBB member Carol Harrington for a post office box is dated Aug. 22.
The only expenditure dated after the statement of organization was filed is the $179 reimbursement made to CNOBB member Joanne Keir (misspelled Kerr on the report) for newsletters.