City Council candidate gets $20,000 from 1 source by Mitch E. Perry

WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday

The St Petersburg Times reported today that Tampa City Council candidate Julie Brown has received $20,000 in campaign contributions from relatives and associates of one person – local car dealer Jason Kuhn.


All of those employees gave the maximum legal amount of $500 to Brown, an attorney who is running against incumbent John Dingfelder.


Last November, Dingfelder voted against a proposal to tear down a shopping plaza off of Kennedy Boulevard, that would allow him to expand his Kuhn’s current Honda & Volkswagon  dealership on the corner of Kennedy and Dale Mabry.   The Council rejected the proposal, 6-1.


But the $20,000 contributed by the employees of Kuhn, many of whom have never contributed to other political campaigns – is raising questions.


Councilman Dingfelder said he noticed the disproportionate amount of campaign contributions coming to Brown a short time ago. (roll tape#1 o.q.” rather shocking I guess”)


Julie Brown says the amount only looks like a lot because she just began serious fundraising at the end of 2006  (roll tape#2 o.q.”about my candidacy”)


And Brown says she never told the employees at the Kuhn Dealership that she would have necessarily voted for the rezoning request (roll tape#3 oq.”and that’s all they want”)


The Times reports that employees from every sector of the Kuhn Dealership, - from mechanics to secretaries, contributed to Brown’s campaign.  Julie Brown says she feels she definitely made an impression in campaigning there (roll tape# 4 o.q.”excited about it”)

But so many employees from one company contributing the maximum to a City Council candidate does raise some eyebrows.   When asked if he thinks the contributions should be investigated, Councilman Dingfelder hedged (roll tape#5 o.q.”in a south Tampa”)


Ben Wilcox is the Executive Director with Common Cause Florida.  He says that such fundraising,  called ‘bundling,’ is a convenient way for one campaign contributor to evade financial contribution limits.  But he says that it may not be legal (roll tape#6 o.q.”      


Even before this revelation, the District 4 race between Dingfelder and Brown had created any interest because of the financial arms race the 2 have found themselves .


According to the latest reports, Brown has raised over $76,000, and Dingfelder over 82,000.   And there has been a question of partisianship .   Brown is a Republican, Dingfelder a Democrat.  (roll tape#6 o.q.”into this”)

On this, Dingfelder’s opponent,  Julie Brown , agrees (roll tape#7 o.q.”  will pay”)

The contributions the 2 candidates for District 4 have raised are NOT the highest by a Tampa City Council candidate.  Shawn Harrison, running city wide for the first time, has raised over $124,000.  In her latest financial report, his opponent , Mary Mulhern has raised less than $7,000.

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