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Broward PBA's complaint vs. Gov. Scott dismissed

The Florida Elections Commission has thrown out a highly-publicized complaint that was filed against Gov. Rick Scott in July, calling it "hearsay."

The complaint accused Scott of illegally coercing uniformed law enforcement officers from the Hillsborough County sheriff's office and other agencies to attend a campaign event in Tampa. Widely reported by Florida TV stations, the incident was a distraction for Scott's campaign for at least a week and it attracted national news coverage.

A colonel in the Hillsborough sheriff's office, Jim Previtera, said at the time that he and other officers believed they were going to an official state function, not a political event promoting Scott's re-election. The elections panel dismissed the complaint without conducting an investigation.

Amy McKeever Toman, executive director of the elections commission, dismissed the complaint in an Aug. 21 letter to Jeff Marano, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, who had filed it. The Broward PBA chapter and its statewide association both support Scott's Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

"You do not, however, provide any personal information or information other than hearsay to support youre allegation that respondent (Scott) either coerced state employees to participate in political events or used the services of state employees during work hours," Toman told Marano. "As such, I find your complaint to be legally insufficient."

"I'm very disappointed that they're not going to investigate it," Marano said. "They should send investigators down there to determine whether it happened or not. I made the allegation. They need to conduct the investigation."

Marano's complaint is one of more than a dozen election law or ethics complaints filed against the Scott and Crist campaigns by their opponents.

"It was a baseless complaint from a substanceless candidate," said Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott's campaign.