March 28, 2017

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Florida, Latest News

Controversy Swirling Around Putnam’s Political Spending

Controversy Swirling Around Putnam’s Political Spending

FL Gov. Candidate’s Shady Spending May Have Violated Law

A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald report raises serious questions about Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s political spending. Reports show Putnam funneled large sums of money, $1.8 million in the last two years, to Silloh Consulting, a Florida-based political consulting firm, but failed to detail how the funds were spent. Putnam’s opaque reporting may put him in violation of “state campaign finance law and federal tax law.” His shady spending will continue to draw heavy scrutiny as he angles for a 2018 run for governor.

Highlights from the Times/Herald report:

“Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised more than $9.4 million for a 2018 governor’s race he has yet to announce and, in the last two years, spent $1.8 million of it on a Lakeland-based political consulting firm that has failed to disclose how the expenses were paid.”

 […]

“Nearly $1.3 million went for the purpose of political consulting, according to the reports, but how much of that were checks written to vendors, pollsters, fundraisers, advertisers, opposition researchers, media interests and others?

His report doesn’t say, raising legal issues about whether the report is in compliance with state campaign finance law and federal tax law.”

[…]

“It raises the question of whether Putnam, and other candidates who have political committees, can use the broad term ‘political consulting’ to shield the true nature of their expenses.

[…]

“Under federal tax law, political committees operate under the IRS 527 exemption if the money is used for an election, said Mark Herron, a Tallahassee lawyer and election law expert. But if a political committee is not using its money for election purposes, it must pay federal taxes on its funds, he said.

I can’t tell if this is being raised and spent for an election because there is no product reported,’ Herron said. ‘It could be raised and spent in connection with other elections but, if that’s the case, you should see other disbursements — for mailing or television advertising purposes.’”

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