Saturday, July 18, 2020

Dirty St. Johns County Politics: Chamber of Commerce's illegal $250 pay-to-play scheme

As a candidate for a Mosquito Control Board seat, I was contacted by the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, which demanded $250 from me as a condition of speaking to them.  I declined. Courteously.

After I cited the law, the Chamber of Commerce, a/k.a "Chamberpot"  sent another $250 letter to me and to other candidates.

To all candidates: as my mother would say, "Save your money."  Don't commit a misdemeanor. 

To the Chamber of Commerce: stop breaking the law.

Thank you.

Here's the correspondence:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Mon, Jul 13, 2020 11:35 am
Subject: St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Invitation to Commit Campaign Misdemeanors: F.S. 106.15, 104.091

Dear Mr. Porter:

1. I accept the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce's gracious invitation to speak and to provide video on my candidacy for Seat 5, Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County.  See July 2, 2020 e-mail, below.

2. Courteously, I must hereby decline its invitation to violate Florida Statute 106.15 by paying it $250 to speak:

106.15 Certain acts prohibited.
(1) No person shall pay money or give anything of value for the privilege of speaking at a political meeting in the furtherance of his or her candidacy, nor shall anyone speaking for such a person pay money or give anything of value for such privilege.
(5) Any person violating the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 15, ch. 73-128; s. 9, ch. 74-200; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 54, ch. 77-175; s. 61, ch. 79-400; s. 31, ch. 81-304; s. 28, ch. 83-217; s. 2, ch. 83-304; s. 16, ch. 91-45; s. 17, ch. 91-107; s. 648, ch. 95-147; s. 2, ch. 97-223; s. 7, ch. 2002-197.

3.  Please review, research and revise the letter.  

4. Please delete its illegal requirement that candidates pay $250 to speak.

5.  The $250 fee is illegal, unseemly, and a contract violation of public policy.  Restatement of Contracts, 2d, Section 178 (Contract Violation of Public Policy).

6. The illegal $250 fee exposes the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce to potential criminal, civil and administrative investigations for attempting to induce dozens of candidates for state and local offices -- including August 18, 2020 Primary and November 3, 2020 General Election candidates -- into illegally paying an aggregate of thousands of dollars to speak.  See, e.g., Florida Statute 104.091(1-2), stating:

104.091 Aiding, abetting, advising, or conspiring in violation of the code.
(1) Any person who knowingly aids, abets, or advises the violation of this code shall be punished in like manner as the principal offender.
(2) Any person who agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person to commit a violation of this code shall be punished as if he or she had committed the violation.

7.  Would you please be so kind as to call me today to discuss, or ask learned counsel to do so?

Thank you.

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin



Bob Porter 

Thu, Jul 2, 5:12 PM (11 days ago)
to Bob
Dear Candidate:
The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce is proud to once again host “Politics in St. Johns,” St. Johns County’s largest candidate meet and greet. This is a great opportunity for candidates in all contested races to get in front of thousands of St. Johns County voters prior to the August 18 Primary and the November 3 General Election.
This year due to the crowd size restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have transitioned from the traditional in-person events held in Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine to an innovative new online format. We are excited to bring the same one-on-one feel of the in-person events to an engaging online opportunity – opening up our potential audience participation dramatically from prior years.
Here’s our new format:
•             Provide all registered candidates the opportunity to present a 3 minute “Meet the Candidate” video to be placed on our Politics in St. Johns webpage. Similar to the face to face interactions between voters and candidates in past years, each video allows candidates to put a face and story to their candidacy.
•             Each candidate will supply contact information giving voters the opportunity to raise questions after viewing their video presentation. Please feel free to link to our page.
•             The Politics in St. Johns website will go live on Monday, July 27, 2020 and remain up until Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Candidates will have the opportunity to submit one updated video beginning on Monday, August 10, 2020. 
•             We are working to continue our popular “Straw Poll” from past years, and will keep you
                updated on our progress.
•             We are also planning several “live” conversations via Zoom or Facebook Live featuring candidates from significant county-wide races the week of August 10 with the opportunity for the public to ask questions through a moderator.
•             The cost for candidates is $250; there is no cost for the general public to participate.
•             All candidates wishing to participate must register on-line through this link no later than Friday, July 17, 2020:
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Bob Porter, Vice President, Public Policy, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce
                To help your business with this Covid-19 situation visit: business-continuity-recovery
Robert W. Porter
Vice President of Public Policy
Phone: 904-829-5681 ext. 49
Mobile: 202-330-1912
100 Southpark Blvd.
Suite 405-406
St. Augustine, FL 32086

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