Stacy Ritter Settles Election Violations: More Than Half are Dropped


Florida’s elections police have agreed to drop more than half the charges against Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, including all those that accused her of deliberately breaking state elections laws.



It is a major personal victory for Ritter, part of a settlement in a case stemming from her 2008 county commission election.

The settlement is recommended by the staff of the Florida Elections Commission.  It still must be formally approved by the Florida Elections Commission, which will consider it early next year.

As part of the settlement obtained first by, staff investigators will drop the claim there that Ritter was guilty of “falsely reporting or deliberately failing to include information” on her campaign financial reports.

Also dropped were allegations that Ritter failed to “report the purpose” of $5,348.66 in reimbursements to her husband, Russ Klenet, who managed her campaign. In addition, claims were dropped that Ritter took money after she was unopposed in June 2008 and failed to return some of those contributions.

Of the 28 original allegations which the elections commission staff originally found probable cause, 17 were dropped.

The 11 that remain are largely technical.  They include only the allegation that Ritter failed to report 11 contributions of $500 apiece.

She had agreed to pay an $8,300 fine for the 11 violations.

Ritter has admitted many times she failed to report the 11 contributions, blaming “accounting and data entry by staff during my 2008 campaign”.  The allegations that remain appear to back her version of what happened.

Ten of the contributions are from real estate companies owned by two Coral Springs developers and given on the same day, April 10, 2007, and no doubt processed at the same time.

She told me more than a year ago that a glitch somehow prevented the April 10 contributions and one on Oct. 9, 2007 from appearing on the list filed with the Supervisor of Elections. She said then:

“Although any bookkeeping errors were clearly unintentional, I take full responsibility.”

In her 2008 race, Ritter raised more than $190,000.  The allegations that remain involve $5,500 in contributions not reported.

The case has dragged on for more than a year after a complaint was filed by one of Ritter’s political enemies — a lobbyist for Dania Beach fighting the runway expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Ritter was a driving force behind the expansion project.

In September 2010 that the commission staff announced that it found probable cause to believe she violated state election laws 26 times. Negotiations have been going on since then between the staff and Ritter’s lawyer which resulted in last week’s settlement.

16 Responses to “Stacy Ritter Settles Election Violations: More Than Half are Dropped”

  1. Sue The Bastard says:

    Ritter should sue Bob Norman and the other media vultures. They libeled her while the real investigators came up with nothing.

  2. Dorothy Tee says:

    Ritter should be grateful that the investigation cleared her. Where there’s smoke there might be fire! I do not believe that Bob Norman and the “other media vultures” libeled her, they just reported!

  3. Reprobait says:

    @Sue . . Like Ritter too wasn’t involved in anything Chait related!

  4. DemoMan says:

    Stacy Ritter has no opponent. No one is talking about running against her. That says everything.

  5. Chaz Stevens says:

    @Sue The Bastard

    Even though I have no love affair with B. Norman, it would be a *really tough case to make* for a lawsuit. Ritter is a public figure and as such, the “malice standard” would apply to her.

    Having personally enjoyed … er … endured nearly three years of libel lawsuit threats by another crooked politician (aka Sylvia Poitier), I’ve got myself a little track record on this subject. Hell, when Poitier said from the dais she was collecting money to sue me, I offered to pony up the first $250.

    In the end, a libel lawsuit from Ritter would be all hat, no cattle.

    Happy holidays to you Buddy!

    Chaz Stevens

    Chaz has a new investigative reporting site,, which looks like it has promise. Check it out.

  6. Hammerhead says:

    @ Sue the Bastard,

    “Settlement” is not synonymous with “not guilty” in case you didn’t know that.

    Some of the charges may not consist of enough solid evidence to prove, whereas others seem to be worth pursuing. When someone settles, there is a negotiation that provides a greater benefit to not go through the embarrassment of the whole issue being laid out publicly. A person who has done nothing wrong does not agree to pay that much money back. It is a purchased gag order of sorts.

  7. Woody72 says:

    Honest people DON”T hide campaign money. Ritter didn’t report10 contributions she got from developers Charlie Ladd and George Rahael, who wrote checks to her from 10 variations of their AMERA companies.

  8. the right lawyer is needed says:

    Ritter needs the right lawyer like Judy Stern’s lawyer. Whoever Judy has made Chazzy and the Funky Bunch over at the New Times run with their tail between their legs when Judy stood up to them and threatened to sue about an article about Stern which they too down in 2 seconds.

  9. Chaz Stevens says:

    @The Right Lawyer

    I am not running anywhere nor am I in charge at the New Times.

    I wasn’t contacted by anyone, threatened with a suit, or the such in that matter.

    Your facts aren’t correct.

  10. Nick says:

    Stacy’s bookkeeping left a lot to be desired. This seems like a very fair resolution to the issue. I’ve read a fair amount on the case and I think it was a 50/50 case… good idea for all to settle on the cheap. Most of it, if not all of it, was bullshit anyway. However, she’s been a very good and responsive commissioner for NW Broward.

    As for a suit against against Bob, why would Stacy want to keep the issue going? How deep are Bob’s pockets even if he won? Or The New Times?

  11. Hammerhead Wrong says:

    It depends on the settlement.

    Sometimes one settles without any admission of guilt or responsibility. Sometimes one settles admitting responsibility. Sometimes one settles admitting partial responsibility in a matter involving multiple counts, while not admitting responsibility in other cases.

    You say that “settlement” is not the same as “not guilty.” That’s only sometimes true. Many times part of the purpose of settlement is precisely to make the statement that a person accused is indeed not guilty. We will not know that until we read the Ritter settlement agreement.

  12. Response to Nick says:

    The question isn’t whether a suit against a Bob Norman type would or wouldn’t be successful. Or how much a suit like that would be worth.

    The question is about the runaway methods that so-called journalists today utilize to report the so-called news. Journalism has a code of ethics. The purpose of it is to ensure that what they write is truthful, that it not combine reporting facts with editorializing opinion, and to provide copy to the public that is objective and accurate among other goals. Actual news reporting has always been delivered the spicey side of that code. But what we have now goes way over the top. Calling people crooks, ethically challenged, suggesting that something is legal yet isn’t quite right anyway. With respect, if it is legal it is right in the eyes of the law. If you want to change a law fine. But to call or suggest somebody is a crook for following the law is in itself unethical. That is what makes people like Norman lack credibility. Yes, they can hit the occasional homerun but they are in a game that requires high average not so many strike outs and the damage they cause to a person’s reputation everytime they swing and miss, which is way too often, is rarely measured. In my opinion an act that reckless is malicious because journalists have a standard. What they don’t have yet is a federal court decision saying that such practices are malicious. I do hope it comes, not out of any desire to see the unethical journalists brought to justice but to improve the quality of the “news” we receive these days.

  13. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    i am glad to see this finally behind Comm.Ritter. She will pay th efine which she has stated all along she would. As far now as this “golf cart” sorry about all that Comm.ritter. i know there are bigger fish to fry, although Immunity was given, why bother. Anyhow the golf cart thing is just a minor issue, but in order to get the big fish, you have to reel in some small ones. I got an idea will take the golf cart to every watering hole we can find. (will call it 18holes,how fitting. (will bring Comm.wexler & Judy Stern w/ us-how can you go wrong)and then say after what 7 holes(bars) we will drop the golf cart right on State Att Satz, front door. How’s that for making a splash( i mean take the golf cart. Really…)

  14. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    I love how in the Sun Sentinel article Stacy uses the common defence of mass murderers/dictators

    “Mistakes were made”

    In other crazy news.

    Cheap AM radio host Brian Craig has declared that because Obama will be getting private intell briefs for the rest of his life after he leaves the Presidency, the Muslim Terrorists will now have access to every US secret since he is a Muslim.

  15. David Cody says:

    So basically a group of politico’s agreed to drop some charges, that does not mean that she is not guilty. Come on, should we believe that an accounting error occurred 11 times only for those developers contributions and if we should believe it where is the investigation to verify that it hasn’t happened in any other instances. Are there any other politicians using that same software, that should be made aware so they can respond accordingly.

    I am surprised that this did not get charged criminally by the SAO and she why she wasn’t removed from office by Governor Scott for the investigation into 28 misdemeanors. Geez, he removed Poitier for 5.

    What is really going on here S. Florida?

  16. AMWakeUpCall says:

    There’s a trade-off, it seems, in South Florida. While there may continue to be questioning of Ritter’s ethics and financial transactions, I agree with ‘Nick’ that she has been a responsive commissioner for her district. She was also responsive and helpful as the county mayor. You can hardly say that for an awful lot of elected officials around here, let alone county and municipal employees.

    As for the media portrayal of Ritter, it continues to sadden me that both the public and the media in South Florida are not recognizing the pervasive gender bias against female political leaders and officials in our communities. The attacks have been nasty and out of proportion against Ritter and against a few other women in local politics.

    I don’t believe that the expansion of FLL is necessary, and I’m certainly disturbed by all of the campaign money and business lobbying in Broward and elsewhere, but I otherwise retain my respect for Stacey Ritter as a competent county official, especially relative to what the county and her district could potentially have otherwise.

    Lots of people love to continually complain about their elected officials, but it’s often not as if Jeezus H. Krist is waiting in the wings to take over whatever seat people are complaining about. Work with what you’ve got, and Ritter has demonstrated herself to be a political leader who is responsive.