Election complaint closed by consent order, CNOBB fined

The case is closed.

Two complaints filed with the Florida Elections Commission by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke against members of Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach have been dismissed.

However, the complaint against CNOBB as an organization incurred a $150 fine following the acceptance of a mutual consent order between the FEC and Bill Vincent, former chair of the defunct political action committee.

In an October 2017 letter to the elections commission, Clarke alleged the group violated state law by not registering as a PAC before seeking petition signatures for three charter amendments on the Nov. 7, 2017, ballot.

The electorate subsequently approved the three charter changestwo by a 55 percent margin and the third amendment by a 64 percent margin.

Although Vincent said at the time he was unaware CNOBB would be a politically active organization, according to Florida statutes, a PAC seeking signatures in support of an initiative must register a statement of organization within 10 days of formation.

The group held it’s first meeting in July 2017 but did not file the necessary forms as a PAC until Oct. 24, 2017, after Clarke filed his complaint. CNOBB filed its first campaign treasurer’s report Oct. 30, 2017.

The group dissolved Nov. 28, 2017.

In an Oct. 31, 2017, response to the FEC regarding the claim, Vincent wrote, “This was an organizational and leadership issue. As founder and chair of CNOBB, the responsibility is mine.”

In an Aug. 20 letter to Vincent, which included the signed consent order for the complaint, FEC executive director Amy McKeever Toman wrote, “The commission appreciates your cooperation and now considers this case closed. I would like to add my appreciation for the cooperative manner in which this case was resolved.”

The FEC concluded CNOBB “failed to file a timely statement of organization,” and stipulated a $150 penalty, which Vincent paid by cashier’s check.

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