Maybe not, after allies of Hillsborough County Representative Rachel Burgin mailed out a recent hit piece against her Senate District 24 GOP opponent Tom Lee, a mailer that Florida GOP state chair Lenny Curry said crossed the line of being acceptable.
The Eastern Hillsborough county seat has been held by Ronda Storms and is one of the most conservative in the state. When Lee was Senate President, he upset a lot of lobbyists with his ethics reforms, and clearly some of those people want to hurt him. The mailer attacked Lee for his 2003 divorce and compared him unfavorably to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner, who has been embarrassed in recent months by revelations of sexual emails and texts to a former employee.
That mailer is now the subject of an ethics complaint against Burgin, as well as lobbyist Kenya Cory.
Hillsborough Republican activist Paul Phillips has filed a series of complaints against both Burgin and Cory with the Florida Elections Committee, and attributes his sourcing to a story written last week by Tampa Tribune political reporter William March.
Phillips charges that Representative Burgìn "directly or indirectly solicited funds or, at a minimum, caused funds to be solicited' on behalf of the American People Committee, a group controlled by lobbyist Jack Cory, a known supporter of Burgin. Phillips charges that Burgin failed to solicit those funds without filing the proper forms to do so.
Phillips also sources a story by the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo on July 19 reported that the American People Committee had received a $10,000 check from gambling lobbyist David Ramba, who alleged he sent that money per Burgin's request.
"She told me where to direct the money," Ramba said. "She asked for support and, since she has been supportive of our issues, we were happy to do it."
But Burgin said Ramba's explanation is "not quite accurate....It's inaccurate."
Phillips charges against Kenya Cory include the fact that the American People Committee failed to "promptly create a website with the proper disclosure including associated persons and expenditure/ contribution records."Cory is the chairperson and treasurer of the American People Committee.
Phillips says that as a CCE (Committee of Continuous Existence), the American People Committee is subject to restrictions and requirements regarding electioneering which they have violated by being responsible for the mailer.
Committees of Continuous Existence and Electioneering Communications Organizations (ECO's) are the big players in Florida politics this primary season, having spent more than $29 million this year. They are not subject to the $500 contribution limits to candidates that regular citizens are.
(This story was initially reported on Peter Schorsch's blog this morning).