Democratic leader explains why he quit the Party

01/03/08 Mitch E. Perry
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As was reported earlier this week by WMNF, the top leaders of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party have resigned, after what has been described as incorrect handling of party money by the treasurer.

Michael Suarez and Deborah Cope were elected together just over a year ago to take over the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee. Indications had been that the party, riven by dissent under the leadership of previous chair Janee Murphy, was getting its act together. But in details published in this morning’s Tampa Tribune, an incident involving Treasurer Thomas Squires led to the duo’s resignations.

Squires allegedly removed $1,200 in cash from a party account through an ATM. He told party officials he took the money, but said it had been lost or stolen. Squires then replaced the missing funds with his own money.

At a meeting on Dec. 21, Suarez and other party officers asked Squries to resign. Initially Squires agreed but later asked to rescind his resignation. Suarez said it was too late, but other party officials backed Squires.

Mike Suarez spoke to WMNF this afternoon. Suarez, resigned from his post as the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman. He and Vice Chair Deborah Cope said they quit over internal conflict within the party regarding the handling of a matter involving party funds and the treasurer, Tom Squires.

The Hillsborough DEC will vote on a new chairperson on Jan. 22.

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