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State Ethics Commission clears Sen. Gary Siplin in newsletter complaint

The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed a complaint filed against state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, that accused him of using a publicly funded newsletter to help promote his wife’s bid to replace him in the Legislature.

At the time, Siplin’s wife Victoria, a political novice, was running to replace him on the Senate since he was barred by term limits from running again. She was beaten in the primary by state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, another Orlando Democrat.

The complaint filed in August by Democratic activist Mary Ritter alleged that a newsletter from Siplin's Senate office mentioned and pictured Victoria several times and was sent to homes outside of Gary Siplin's current district but within the boundary lines of the redraw seat that his wife was seeking.

Without weighing in on the facts of the case, the Ethics Commission ruled last month that the allegations were legally insufficient and therefore dismissed the complaint.

Siplin didn’t announce that he had been vindicated until today. In the process, he attempted to tie Ritter’s complaint to Thompson’s campaign. He said that Ritter is an employee of Susannah Randolph, wife of state Rep. Scott Randolph, a fellow Orlando Democrat and chair of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee.

Randolph supports Thompson’s Senate campaign, Gary Siplin said. Then he took it a step further, accusing Randolph of favoring one Democratic candidate over another in the primary and suggesting that he step down from his county leadership post.

“I’m just thankful that the Ethics Committee saw through the Randolph’s political antics,” Siplin said in his news release. “I just wish our Democratic Party Leaders would not favor one candidate over another during a primary.  Perhaps Scott Randolph should resign as Chair of the local Democratic Party for his partisanship during the primary election.”

Download Siplin Press Release on Ethics Commission dismissal

Download Ethics Commission Order Dismissing Siplin Complaint