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HomeOpinionHernando County Voters Deserve Transparency

Hernando County Voters Deserve Transparency

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By Gregg Laskoski

Most states, including Florida, have statutes that limit contributions. According to FL Statute 106.08, when it comes to local elections for the Board of County Commissioners or School Board, the maximum allowable contribution is $1,000.

Understandably, the intent of these laws is to ensure transparency and fairness; to prevent the scales from tipping in favor of politicians, businesses or individuals for whom ‘quid pro quo’ means ‘business as usual’. Some contributors find ways around the statutes to assist their candidates on a level that far exceeds the $1,000 maximum. That occurs often in Hernando County.

In the 2022 election cycle, for instance, the Deeb organization, a construction and development firm in Pasco County, gave $8,000 to Mark Johnson, a Hernando School Board District 1 candidate; and $6,000 to Shannon Rodriguez in District 3. Both defeated the incumbents they opposed. Deeb invested an additional $3,000 on a third candidate who also ran against the District 1 incumbent, Kay Hatch.

In the District 5 School Board race, Deeb gave $7,000 to candidate Monty Floyd who challenged and lost to Susan Duval. Deeb’s 2022 contributions were written under 8 different company names, all operating from the same office in New Port Richey, according to the candidates’ reports. If you’re keeping score, that’s $24,000 for Deeb versus $4,000 (for 4 candidates) that the law permits for you and me.

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2024 elections are already delivering more of the same. According to reports filed with the Hernando Supervisor of Elections, Deeb has given $3,000 each to challengers Kayce Hawkins and Mark Cioffi in their respective District 2 and District 4 School Board races. At the very least, doesn’t Deeb’s astonishing interest in the composition of the Hernando School Board raise questions that deserve answers? Hernando voters deserve full transparency.

Gregg Laskoski is chairman of Hernando’s Half-Cent Sales Tax Citizens Accountability Committee, a group of volunteers providing accountability of all revenue collected exclusively for school repairs, safety & infrastructure as approved by voters in 2015.

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