Inspector General Slams Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Robert McKinzie for Campaign Finance Violations | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Inspector General Slams Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Robert McKinzie for Campaign Finance Violations

A 70-page report released this morning by the Broward Office of the Inspector General shows that Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Robert McKinzie routinely accepted campaign contributions that were over the city’s $250 limit and submitted campaign treasurer’s reports that contained false, inaccurate, or incomplete information.

Johnnie Smith, a Fort Lauderdale-based accountant who served as McKinzie’s campaign treasurer, is also named in the report, although the Inspector General notes that he “did not do any actual banking at any time but rather merely prepared [Campaign Treasurer’s Reports] based on document copies and information that Commissioner McKinzie provided to him.”

For all intents and purposes, the report concludes, McKinzie was his own campaign treasurer. Meanwhile, Smith violated the city’s campaign finance laws by donating twice the maximum amount allowed to McKinzie’s campaign.

In total, McKinzie received $3,300 that exceeded the contribution limit from 14 individual donors. Aside from Smith, the donors are identified only by their initials.

In February 2015, the Sun-Sentinel revealed that McKinzie had received $1,000 in illegal contributions. (Awkwardly, the article was published six days after the paper had endorsed McKinzie.) McKinzie claimed he had not been aware of the donations and refunded the money. He failed, however, to refund the other $2,300 in contributions that exceeded the limit but hadn’t been mentioned in the article.

The report also finds multiple issues with McKinzie’s campaign spending. Notably, he spent $1,200 at RaceTrac over the course of 15 days. When questioned, he said that he’d been purchasing gas cards for campaign workers but didn’t have receipts. None of his campaign staff recalled receiving gas cards.

McKinzie also failed to properly close down his campaign account after he was elected and used it to pay $120 to enter a golf tournament in April 2015.

According to a press release, McKinzie "underreported excessive contributions, omitted contributions,
omitted a deposit and payout of funds unrelated to the campaign, withdrew cash from the campaign treasury which he said he used to pay a campaign worker, failed to make all expenditures by check or a properly documented debit card transaction, accepted and misreported a prohibited cashier’s check contribution, and apparently kept and failed to report a refund of campaign funds. Each of these acts was an alleged first-degree misdemeanor."

The report will be forwarded to the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Elections Commission, and the Broward State Attorney’s Office, who will determine if McKinzie will face charges. McKinzie could not immediately be reached for comment. 

You can view the full report here:
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Antonia Farzan is a fellow at New Times. After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, she moved to South Florida to pursue her dream of seeing a manatee and meeting DJ Khaled (ideally at the same time). She was born and raised in Rhode Island and has a BA in classics from Hamilton College.

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