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Ethics complaint filed against Sen. Siplin over 'newsletter' that mentions wife

UPDATE: Gary Siplin just issued a response via his Senate office.

State Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) released the following statement Friday regarding a politically motivated complaint:  “I pray in JESUS’ NAME, for Amy Ritter’s protection, her happiness, and her welfare; and, I truly pity her, and may God bless her.  (1 Peter 3:9 Amplified Bible).”

ORIGINAL POST: Earlier this morning, Senator Gary Siplin tweeted: "HATERS are my motivators."

Now, we know what may be irking him. The Orlando Sentinel reported today that an ethics complaint has been filed against Siplin and accuses him of using taxpayer dollars to send mailers outside of the district he represents that seem to be a veiled attempt to help his wife's campaign.

Siplin, an Orlando Democrat, can't run for re-election because of term limits. His wife, Victoria, a political novice, is running for his seat instead. The complaint alleges that the newsletter from Siplin's Senate office mentions Victoria Siplin and was sent to homes outside of Gary Siplin's current district but within the boundary lines of the redraw seat that his wife is currently seeking, the Sentinel said.

Victoria Siplin faces Rep. Geraldine Thompson, also an Orlando Democrat, in Tuesday's primary.

This won't be the first time Siplin has been accused of abusing power. Most of the charges didn't stick, but in May he agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to the Florida Elections Commission stemming from issues with his 2008 re-election campaign.

From the Sentinel:

A local Democratic activist has filed a complaint against state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, accusing  him of abusing his office by sending out a publicly funded “newsletter” promoting his wife while she campaigns for his Senate seat.

The glossy, eight-page mailer mentions Victoria Siplin half a dozen times and includes two photos of her. In addition, at least some mailers were sent to homes outside Gary Siplin’s current Senate district — but inside the district Victoria Siplin is seeking. The heavily Democratic district was redrawn this year as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. Gary Siplin is being forced to retire because of term limits.

The mail piece dropped just before voters choose between Victoria Siplin and state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, in the Democratic primary for the seat.

Amy Ritter’s complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics accuses Gary Siplin of breaking a state law that says public employees cannot “corruptly use his or her official position or any property resource which may be within his or her trust…to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others.”

Ritter told the Orlando Sentinel that she was particularly incensed that Gary Siplin’s mailer went to people other than his district constituents.

“I live in the district his wife is running in, but not in the district he currently is in,” Ritter said. “I’ve never gotten anything from the man before. I find it to be very unethical because it’s clearly a campaign piece for his wife, funded by taxpayers.”

Gary Siplin did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In addition to state law, Florida Senate rules require any mass communications from senators be sent to “constituents.” But a representative for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, would not say where Haridopolos’ administration believes Siplin’s mailer complies with that rule.

“As stated in the Senate’s policy, the senators are responsible for the distribution and content of their newsletters,” Haridopolos spokeswoman Elizabeth Moya said.

Comments

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Susan Chandler

If we had a legitimate media, Floridians would know that the very last legislator who should comment on ethics is Senate President Haridopolos, who is content with ongoing conviction corruption in his district, a great deal of which is related to the exonerations of Wilton Dedge and William Dillon, for which the media heaped praise upon Haridopolos for being a "champion."

If we had a legitimate media, Floridians would occasionally hear something good about Senator Siplin, like how he fought not to have 40% fees attached to balances due our court clerks.

That battle was especially important, as at least one clerk - in Haridopolos district - is attempting to collect "debt" established on narratives rather than business documents, and from the disgraceful time period when Florida was charging the indigent fee, and not a nominal sum. The $50 charge likely protected a lot of slumlords from being forced to make reasonable repairs, and protected a lot of insurance companies that didn't want to pay legitimate claims. It also keep the battered from filing for protection orders, or divorce.

If we had a legitimate media, the entire nation would know that the FBI used discredited dog handlers and is helping to bury thousands of false convictions like Wilton Dedge and William Dillon's. They would also know that Haridopolos is the son of a former agent, one that politically active in his district (with other retired feds) in efforts to ensure that conviction coverups continue.

Hallandale Beach Blog

Nice off-topic remark. No, not really.

If we had a legitimate media in this state, Sen. Gary Siplin's name and face, as well as his reputation for self-aggrandizing and clownish behavior would not only be much better known, but he would face the sort of condemnation and ridicule that he rightly deserves. Like a good five-minute segment on a special ABC News Nightline on on America's worst state legislators.

"Hi, Officer, I'm state Sen. Gary Siplin. I'm getting comped tickets to tonight's ballgame. Can you tell me where the VIP section is that I'm supposed to park my car in? You know, before I swing by a suite and sit down in my comfortable chair in the suite and get some free food and drink courtesy of lobbyists at the game who just find me so damn fascinating that they just can't help telling me how glad they are that I could make it, and was there anything else THEY could get me? "

Yes, it's very good to be me and know that I have a marked pack of cards that are all race cards if I need to play 'em. Sometimes I do just to screw with people, because they know that I will then just tell my friends in the news media that it's racism.
Ha! Ha! Yes, it's very good to be me, indeed.
I always get the last laugh.

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