Political newcomer Kim Rash can continue to campaign for office in Holmes Beach.
City clerk Stacey Johnston, as the Holmes Beach election official, ruled an error in campaign depository paperwork by the city commission candidate did not rise to the level of disqualification.
Rash said it was the right call.
“There was never any intent of wrongdoing or fraudulent activity,” Rash said. “It would be a shame to allow the democratic process to be overshadowed by this innocent error. I feel that I made every effort to do things correctly.”
Johnston said she made her decision July 9 after consulting with the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and on legal advice from city attorney Patricia Petruff.
David Zaccagnino, a candidate for the charter review commission on the same ballot as Rash and a former city commissioner, asked Johnston to disqualify Rash.
“Because of this extreme error in violation of state statute, I am asking that his campaign be terminated,” Zaccagnino wrote in a July 6 email to Johnston.
Reached July 12 by phone, Zaccagnino would not say whether the ruling concluded the issue to his satisfaction.
“I don’t have any comment right now on that,” he said.
Candidates are first required to declare a depository for campaign funds, Johnston said. They must pay the initial filing fee and submit all required candidate forms with a check from the declared depository.
Rash named Hancock Bank his depository June 4, but the check written for his candidate filing fee was drawn on Wells Fargo.
He questioned why candidates are required to name a bank to receive campaign funds before any money can be deposited.
“This seems to be an odd sequence to have to designate a bank before the account is actually opened,” Rash wrote in an email to city hall.
However, the election laws are set by state statute, not by the city.
Johnston said Rash told her he changed his campaign depository bank after he encountered difficulty establishing his account at Hancock Bank, but failed to submit the paperwork to make the switch to Wells Fargo official.
“It’s fixed now,” Johnston said.
Johnston ruled the error was not intended to circumvent the law or gain unfair advantage.
The Holmes Beach ballot listing Rash has yet to be certified by the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.
Holmes Beach elections are nonpartisan and there is no primary. Early qualifying allowed the SOE to set ballots for the August primary and general election in November at the same time, Johnston said.
County’s election website mistakenly posts candidate SSNs
The Social Security numbers of Holmes Beach political candidates Kim Rash and Joshua Linney were mistakenly posted on votemanatee.com, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website.
Rash is running for a seat on the city commission and Linney is running for mayor in the Nov. 6 municipal election.
“This was an egregious mistake that violated Florida state law,” Rash wrote in an email sent to the city.
The information was removed from the website after a July 9 phone call to the SOE from Rash. He said the numbers received at least 56 views.
“We don’t know how many candidates’ Social Security numbers were compromised,” Rash wrote. “This has caused my wife and I emotional distress, as well as time and money.”
Rash said he was advised to purchase Life Lock credit protection and freeze all credit accounts.
“We will wait to see how this will affect our personal finances,” Rash wrote.