BY BUDDY NEVINS
Once again, someone is violating the election laws by passing out palm cards without the required disclosure.
This was going this weekend in the African-American community outside at least one early voting polling location.
This card may violate the rules governing judicial candidates which forbids them from partisan campaigning. The card, which contains a list of candidates for judge on its reverse side, is clearly labeled “Vote Democrats.”
An often-used dirty trick in ethnic communities like the inner city and condominiums, phony palm cards without disclosure are often used to offset legitimate cards from legitimate organization. The strategy is highly cynical. It assumes that African-Americans and elderly condo residents are too gullible to realize they are being tricked or that they would automatically vote a ticket on an anonymous card.
Phony cards are almost always plumped up with a full list of candidates to disguise whose campaign actually distributed them. That might be because distributing a card without disclosure is against state laws.
Prosecution is hard, though.
One of the only serious investigation of a sham endorsement list I can remember targeted consultant Judy Stern. She was accused of engineering bogus list, but a State Attorney and Elections Commission investigation in 2003 was dropped after the charge couldn’t be proved.
In a text message to me, Stern vehemently denied any involvement in the current palm card.
Here is what I wrote at the time the state commission decision:
The Florida Elections Commission has dropped its investigation into former Broward County School Board member Paul Eichner’s 2002 campaign after his political consultant denied taking part in any Election Day dirty tricks.
Consultant Judy Stern had been accused of having a role in printing a counterfeit Black Voter’s Guide, which was distributed at polls on Nov. 5. She was investigated for allegedly violating two state laws by failing to place the words “paid political adv.” on the literature and not stating the identity of the person who paid for the ads.
The real guide, written by various black elected officials and civic leaders, endorsed School Board member Darla Carter, Eichner’s opponent and the winner of the election. The phony guide endorsed Eichner.
Eric Lipman, a commission lawyer, said he was unable to substantiate the allegations of community activist Janice Boursiquot, who filed the complaint. He said he based his decision on a sworn denial from Stern of any involvement.
Witnesses saw individuals wearing Paul Eichner T-shirts handing out the bogus guides. Eichner told investigators he had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the fake guide.
This time around, one observer blamed the campaign of state House candidate Bobby DeBose, the Fort Lauderdale commissioner running for state House District 94 against Commissioner Levoyd Williams of Lauderdale Lakes. Some palm cards were being handed out by folks wearing DeBose shirts.
DeBose could not be reached for comment.