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Bob Lotane is suing local political consultant Max Herrle over disputed ownership of Our Tallahassee

View of downtown Tallahassee (undated)
Leon County Tourism/Visit Tallahassee
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Visit Tallahassee

The publisher of a local progressive blog is suing his former business partner in small claims court. The dispute between Bob Lotane and political consultant Max Herrle stems is over unreturned equipment and property, and unauthorized expenses that Lotane is concerned run afoul of both IRS and Florida Elections Commission rules.

Our Tallahassee is the site and political action committee Lotane founded. The entity is registered as a non-profit, and Lotane’s name is on all the paperwork. It is that issue, he says, that has led him to file a small claims suit against Herrle. Lotane says Herrle changed all the passwords to the site and its affiliated social media accounts after the two disagreed over Our Tallahassee's future direction. Herrle wanted to start a video service and build a studio. Lotane nixed the idea.

The co-creator of a local progressive blog is suing his former business partner in small claims court. The dispute between Bob Lotane and political consultant Max Herrle stems from an ownership dispute in addition to unreturned equipment and expenses that Lotane is concerned run afoul of both IRS and Florida Elections Commission rules.

It is that issue, he says, that has led him to file a small claims suit against Herrle. Lotane says Herrle changed all the passwords to the site and its affiliated social media accounts after the two disagreed over Our Tallahassee's future direction. Herrle wanted to start a video service and be more active in state politics while Lotane disagreed.

Included in his suit is an unreturned $3,000 camera purchased with money from Our Tallahassee’s counts, in addition to two Amazon charges totaling about $1,800 that Lotane says Herrle has never explained. In the court records is an account statement with other food and gas charges that Lotane says he did not authorize.

In an interview with WFSU, Lotane said Herrle reached out to him about settling the issues in November, but that he has not heard from Herrle since then.

“He thinks this is a game, but when the IRS and FEC is involved, it’s not a game anymore. So, he needs to give us our intellectual and physical property,” Lotane said.

Our Tallahassee announced on October 6th that the site was shutting down and that Lotane and Herrle were parting ways.

Lotane attributed the split to “skullduggery,” and says shortly after his dispute with Herrle over the direction of the site, he found himself locked out and passwords changed. Herrle was still creating new postings.

Our Tallahassee is the front-facing website and has a registered LLC. The North Florida Action fund is the site’s political arm and does the political work. It’s registered as a 501 C(4). North Florida Action fund is also the blanket organization of Our Tallahassee and both OT and NFAF are registered with the state.

Nothing was done under the Our Tallahassee, LLC, which was registered in 2021 under Bob Lotane’s name among with Shelby Green. There are no financial documents on file and Green has said she hasn’t been involved with the site since its inception. The site’s LLC was reinstated on October 5, 2022 under Lotane's name only. That's three days after he and Mark McKinnery held an emergency board meeting to sever ties with Herrle. Most of the entity’s political work was done under the North Florida Action Fund banner, where Herrle is listed as Director and the sole Board Member. Lotane is listed as a Vice President and so is McKinnery. Herrle also owns the website’s domain name.

In response to a request for comment, Herrle said of the lawsuit, “it’s unfortunate that this is the course Bob has chosen but I’m confident it will be resolved soon.”

Lotane is hoping for the same in an upcoming pretrial hearing set for Jan. 31ST. During that hearing, the two have an opportunity for mediation.

Our Tallahassee set out to influence local politics and supported several candidates for local offices during the recent election. It challenged incumbents Mayor John Dailey and Dianne Williams-Cox over their votes to support a Blueprint decision to spend $27 million in tax money to fund repairs to Doak Campbell Stadium. It has also been critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s leadership.

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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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