Campaign Report Filed by Woods Raises a Raft of Questions in Largo
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - An examination of campaign financial reports for the Largo election in November provides some aspects of great interest besides demonstrating, in one case, great wreckage.
There are so many questions arising from the report of Rodney Woods, a sitting commissioner who is seeking re-election after one undistinguished term, one wonders about his basic qualifications for office in the first place.
Despite a cautionary legend "It is a first degree misdemeanor for any person to falsify a public record" and citing 839.13 Florida Statutes, Woods's initial campaign treasurer's report for the period July 1 to September 11 is riddled with errors which, by definition, are falsifications.
A first degree misdemeanor is punished by a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Woods is serving, according to the report, as his own campaign treasurer. His report lists a series of discrepancies. The alternative, it would seem, to a willful violation of the statute would be gross carelessness. Not good.
For example, he lists $1,050 in cash and checks and $240 for in kind contributions. Those add up to $1,290. But the total given in his hand on the report is $1,270.
When the itemized contributions are examined, they add up to $1,310. The in kind contributions in the itemized part of the report total $240 but one of those cited is listed as "$80+".
Contributions, even the in kind variety, must state an exact amount.
That "$80+" in kind contribution also is recorded by Woods as for "fund raiser decorations."
Yet there is no reporting on the form about money gathered from advertised "fund raisers." The general collection of money in a fund raiser without specific contributors names for each contribution is unlawful.
There have been advertised gatherings in bars and places like that as "fund raisers" for Woods with, presumably, a jar in which to drop money. This again is unlawful. All individual contributions must be recorded and exact amounts given.
In Woods's itemized expenditures he lists $154.05 for "qualifying fees" to the city of Largo and two payouts of $19.97 each to a printing company in Massachusetts for web site fees.
That adds up to $193.99 which Woods cites, but then he lists the total of expenditures as $236.03 with no explanation for that incorrect, erroneous or false total. Take your pick.
Another question arises because residents in Largo received a mail out advertisement for Woods and the cost of that and postage fees is missing from his list of expenditures.
Woods's challenger in November's election, Curtis Holmes, shows no discrepancies in his first financial report.
He lists money contributions of $2,689 and in kind contributions of $338.73 for a total of $3,027 with expenditures of $2,069.15.
In early filings made by what started out as five potential candidates with a couple opponents of Commissioner Gigi Arntzen dropping out and Bob Jackson being removed from the ballot in a questionable action, Mayor Pat Gerard showed a war chest totaling more than $12,000 which indicates, according to political observers, that she was taking a Jackson challenge seriously and was ready to go to war.
About 60 percent of the contributions to Gerard came from addresses listed outside Largo, following a pattern that was in place in 2006. Perfectly legal, but then as now the question is why?
What would be anyone's interest outside the city in having Gerard in office?
One theory, advanced three years ago in explanation of similar contributions to Gerard, making her first run for mayor at that time, was that it was designed for people interested in advancing the homosexual agenda - the idea was to make Largo a "destination" city for homosexuals like Provincetown, Key West and more closely, Dunedin.
Of course that endeavor was greatly upended, if indeed, it ever was an actual agenda, by the Stanton debacle.
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