Postcard causes issue for mayoral candidate

Holmes Beach mayor Joshua Linney
]With the Holmes Beach mayoral election ended, Joshua Linney is undergoing a different kind of scrutiny, this one from the U.S. government. - Kristin Swain | Sun

Holmes Beach mayoral candidate Josh Linney is again coming under fire, this time for offering an hour of free technical support on his election postcard mailing.

Offering anything of monetary value in election mailings, including services, is a violation of Florida law because it implies that candidates are paying for votes.

The catch with Linney’s mailing is that, according to his company site, Digital Verb, he doesn’t charge for an hour of technical support, only labor, which is listed at $50 per hour.

According to Sharon Stief, chief deputy at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office, the statement on the postcard is in violation of Florida Statute 104.061 which states: “No person shall directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another intending thereby to buy that person’s or another’s vote.”

Linney argues that while he’s aware of the law, the statute doesn’t apply to him because the offered service has no monetary value.

“I think it’s important that it be known, the postcard doesn’t change the price or make it free, it’s always free. There isn’t any cash value, never has been because I don’t charge people,” Linney told The Sun.

Linney said that rather than offering a service to voters for their support of his campaign, he hopes that the offer on his campaign postcards will be taken as an opportunity for him to interact with the public. He said in exchange for answering residents’ questions he wants residents to tell him how, if elected, he could work to make Holmes Beach better.

“I just want to engage with the community,” he said. “I’ll do whatever they need. I’ll clean their house if they want me to.”

In an emailed statement, Linney wrote, “I don’t think it’s fair to ask hardworking residents, citizens and merchants to take time out of their day if I’m not willing to do the same. If someone has a problem and they think I have the solution, I’m willing to take the time to go meet with them personally to see if I can help them. If any in the city of Holmes Beach has anything they want me to hear about anything or wants to ask me any question any time, I’ll go to them personally to hear it. That’s the way it should be.”

The statement on his campaign postcard causes an issue because generally, technical support does come at a cost, particularly in-home assistance. Without a complaint to the state elections board that would have to be investigated, the issue won’t move forward or pose a threat to remove Linney from candidacy in Holmes Beach.

Linney said that right now he has no plans to re-release the postcard mailing without the offer, however, he said he will if necessary.

No complaints have yet been filed with the Florida Elections Commission concerning Linney’s election postcard.

Absentee voting already is underway in Holmes Beach. Early voting begins Oct. 24 in Manatee County. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.