BY BUDDY NEVINS
Scott Israel has been sued for allegedly not paying for polling in his losing race for Sheriff in 2008.
The Kitchens Group LLC, a well-known central Florida survey company run by Jim Kitchens, filed the suit April 17. The case, which is over an amount less than $15,000, was assigned to County Court Judge Lisa Trachman.
Israel’s campaign account is closed and Israel was sued personally.
Kitchens also said an ethics complaint may be filed against Israel.
Israel told Kitchen that the bill was the responsibility of his former campaign manager Judy Stern, who often works with the Kitchens Group.
“The law says the candidate is the agent for the campaign. The candidate is responsible, Kitchen said.
“I have no comment,” Israel said. “It’s in litigation and there are a plethora of issues. Obviously, I believe I acted honorably and honestly as I always do.”
Kitchens said he has been trying to collect the debt for at least six months.
“IÃ¢â‚¬Ëœm in the hole, Kitchens said. “I paid for phone banks and computer time out of my pocket.
Israel lost to incumbent Sheriff Al Lamberti in what was widely described as an upset.
UPDATE: Since this item was posted in mid-afternoon, two political insiders have pointed out Florida Statute 106.11 (4).
This portion of the law states (my underlining):
“(4) No candidate, campaign manager, treasurer, deputy treasurer, or political committee or any officer or agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of any of the foregoing, shall authorize any expenses, nor shall any campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer sign a check drawn on the primary campaign account for any purpose, unless there are sufficient funds on deposit in the primary depository account of the candidate or political committee to pay the full amount of the authorized expense, to honor all other checks drawn on such account, which checks are outstanding, and to meet all expenses previously authorized but not yet paid. However, an expense may be incurred for the purchase of goods or services if there are sufficient funds on deposit in the primary depository account to pay the full amount of the incurred expense, to honor all checks drawn on such account, which checks are outstanding, and to meet all other expenses previously authorized but not yet paid, provided that payment for such goods or services is made upon final delivery and acceptance of the goods or services; and an expenditure from petty cash pursuant to the provisions of s. 106.12 may be authorized, if there is a sufficient amount of money in the petty cash fund to pay for such expenditure. Payment for credit card purchases shall be made pursuant to s. 106.125. Any expense incurred or authorized in excess of such funds on deposit shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, constitute a violation of this chapter. As used in this subsection, the term “sufficient funds on deposit in the primary depository account of the candidate or political committee” means that the funds at issue have been delivered for deposit to the financial institution at which such account is maintained. The term shall not be construed to mean that such funds are available for withdrawal in accordance with the deposit rules or the funds availability policies of such financial institution.”
The question is whether Scott Israel might have broken an election law by not paying for the survey out of his campaign before closing it in February.
Two longtime political insiders believe he did break the law. I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t make that accusation.