PBC Soil & Water win could prove costly for Rob Long due to apparent violations of campaign finance laws

Yesterday, November 25, 2016, the Palm Beach Post put out an article questioning why a

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Rob Long campaign road sign missing required political disclaimer.

powerful Florida political action committee would devote its resources to races in the little known Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District. However, the article missed the most important angle of the story. During his campaign, Rob Long, winner of Group 4, had been holding fundraisers, putting out road signs, paying someone to place robo-calls to voters, placing a newspaper ad, and placing Facebook ads promoting his candidacy — all while not informing the public of his campaign finance activities not to file campaign treasurer’s reports when there is campaign activity. This is a clear violation of Florida law. Additionally, Long’s road signs were missing the required political disclaimer telling the public who paid for the signs. What was Rob Long trying to keep from the public during his campaign, only filing the reports after his win?

Five days after the Palm Beach County Inspector General was notified of Long’s transgressions, Long filed all his campaign finance reports on November 21, 2016, when most were due months ago. This is a violation of Florida Statute 106.07 which reads, “Failure of the treasurer of a candidate or political committee to file regular reports of all contributions received, and all expenditures made, by or on behalf of the candidate or political committee.” Long is on the hook for 25% of the campaign’s total receipts and expenditures while the reports immediately preceding the general election, the fine is $500 per day.

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Screenshot of a Rob Long Facebook ad.

Long had two opponents in the race, incumbent David Self and Karl Dickey. Dickey was not required to file, as he did not have any campaign finance activity. Self filed his reports as required by law.

What is interesting about Long’s finally filed campaign treasurer’s reports are that he spent exactly what he had come in — to the penny. In most campaigns there is money left over which can be kept in a politician’s account for a future run or it can be given to charity. It is highly unusual for the exact amount of money to be contributed to a political campaign that goes out. Perhaps this is something the Florida Division of Elections and the Palm Beach County Inspector General are also looking into.

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