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Dailey files an election complaint against Dozier over an attack mailer. Dozier calls the move shameful

A man in a gray suit speaks at a podium while another suited man stands further away looking on.
Lynn Hatter
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey is accusing Commissioner Kristin Dozier and an affiliated political committee of violating elections law over a mailer that attacked Dailey for his vote to give FSU $27 million for repairs and enhancements the school's football stadium.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey has filed an elections complaint against his challenger, County Commissioner Kristin Dozier. He is accusing her campaign of failing to disclose who paid for an attack mailer sent weeks ago. Dozier refutes the complaint, filed Wednesday, and says her campaign has complied with the legal requirements and that Dailey’s actions are “shameful.”

Dailey is calling on the Florida Elections Commission to investigate whether Dozier failed to report the mailers as a contribution to her campaign, and whether the political committee that sent the mailers failed to report them as an expenditure. At issue is a disagreement over when the corresponding financial disclosures should have been filed.

"It’s not too hard to ask people to follow the law," said Dailey, "especially those who want to run for office.”   

A political committee affiliated with Dozier's campaign was created on July 12th and the mailers arrived between the 15th and 19th of July. According to state law, if such mailers deemed "electioneering communications" occur before 30 days prior to a primary or 60 days before a general election, they’re subject to campaign finance limits and financial disclosure. State law says those disclosures have to be done at the earliest of when the following 3 scenarios occur: when a person enters into a contract, when a payment is made for the production of the good or service OR when the product is publicly disseminated.

According to that language, the political committee may have had to file a financial disclosure no later than July 29th. Dozier says the political committee is responsible for the mailer it sent. Depending on when a final bill was sent to the committee, the expenditure would likely show up in upcoming disclosure reports.

“This is a non-issue,” said Dozier. “Everything was done legally and we have confidence in the Elections commission. This is shameful politics from a desperate politician in an attempt to distract us from his record.”

Dailey also questioned whether the group that sent the mailer, exists. It's attributed to a group calling itself “Save our City," except, according to the Florida Division of Elections, there is no group with that name registered. There is another political committee with a similar sounding name calledSaving Our City PC" which was created on July 12th. Dailey conceded the name issue is likely a typo but said of Dozier “are you trying to mislead voters or are you just not up for the job and not able to handle the details of communicating properly?”

Dailey’s attorney, Glenn Burhans, also pointed to similarities between the attack mailer, and ones sent by Dozier’s official campaign as evidence of the potentially mistimed coordination.

"The mailers are very similar in appearance, they have the same color scheme, similar verbiage and the same exact people in the photos [are] used in the Dozier campaign mailer and the dark money mailer," Burhans said.

Dozier notes such mailers are typical and current candidates along with city and county commissioners have run similar mailers before and are doing so currently.

“I’m confident these mailers met the letter of the law. It’s very typical, it’s happening in a lot of our local races, and it’s purely a political attempt to lie about my record, distract from John Dailey’s record, and deflect from the real issues of this campaign.”

She also pushed back on the mayor for accusing her of a lack of transparency.

“I am always the person who is focused on transparency, public participation and ethics. And to hear these lies about my record, to see what we saw today, is shameful," she said.

The bitterness in the mayoral race has been seen throughout this campaign cycle as many city and county commissioners face challengers.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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