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Federal audit of Florida Democratic Party 2008 books reveals violations

Sloppy bookkeeping and violating spending limits on federal and accounts in the 2008 campaign has gotten the Florida Democratic Party into trouble with the Federal Elections Commission.

UPDATE: The election commission will decide at its June 7 meeting whether to approve or amend an audit report that accuses the party of five violations of failing to document expenditures and coordinated campaign activities in the 2007-08 election year. The commission will decide at a later date whether or not any fines should be paid.

The commission launched an audit of the Florida Democratic Party in 2009 after questions were raised about the party’s federal spending reports.

The party has since amended all of its reports "to the complete satisfaction of the Commission,''' said Brannon Jordan, Democratic Party spokeswoman. Although the party disputed several of the findings of the commission, Jordan said it has "cooperated fully and believe we have successfully resolved all other remaining issues from the 2007-2008 cycle.”

The audit, released publicly on April 25, 2012, found that the party’s election committee: Download FEC60712

  • Exceeded its authorized expenditures on behalf of Democratic congressional candidate Annette Taddeo of Miami in her unsuccessful bid to oust Illeana Ros-Lehtinen. “The party could not demonstrate, in writing, that it was granted additional spending authority beyond $60,000. As a result, DECF exceeded its coordinated party expenditure limitation by $22,400.”
  • Failed to itemize coordinated party expenditure of $194,957. The party objected, saying it used non-federal funds to pay for its legislative caucus expenses and did not violate the law.
  • Spent $84,364 in non-federal money on translators at the polls when it should have used federal funds for that purpose.
  • Misstated its financial activity for 2009 and 2010 in an account known as the “Levin Fund.” (The fund, named after former Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin allows state committees to receive up to $10,000 from individuals to pay for limited federal election activities such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.”
  • Did not properly disclose $9.5 million in disbursements.  The audit offered no details.

Here's the response from the party's attorney to the FEC's draft audit: Download DOC797