Back in 2008, Stacy Ritter was stumping hard for Barack Obama and looking for payback if he won a job in the White House.
Perhaps to further both of those causes, Ritter donated $15,000 out of her own campaign account to a committee tied to the Democratic National Convention in Denver on August 25, 2008. (And yes, this time the check not only existed but it cleared). The problem: The law allows a candidate for office with surplus campaign funds to give a maximum of $10,000 to a political party. It's a law clearly designed to limit candidates' own influence peddling in their own parties.
The Florida Elections Commission looked at that issue in the investigation that has revealed all kinds of unlawful activity and led to 28 civil charges being filed against Ritter by the state. Inside, see Ritter's attorney's seemingly faulty explanation for the contribution.
In a response to the investigation, Ritter attorney Mark Herron defended the contribution by first saying that Ritter's contribution didn't to go the convention but to the Denver 2008 Convention Planning Committee.
"A contribution to the Denver 2008 Convention Planning Committee is not a contribution to political party. The Denver 2008 Convention Planning Committee is a charitable organization pursuant to s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code," wrote Herron.
What? How can an obviously partisan political group be considered a charity? We all got a crash course in the exclusion of politics from 501(c)(3) during former Mayor Ken Keechl's controversial Mayor's Gala, after all.
I'm researching this, but on first glance, it looks like somehow the committee was granted charitable status. Here's an explanation found on the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce website:
This August, Denver will be the host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the Denver 2008 Convention Planning Committee has the privilege and historic opportunity to showcase and celebrate Denver in front of 15,000 members of the media on a world stage. The Planning Committee has made a commitment to raise more than $40 million in cash to host a successful convention and needs your help in meeting that goal... The Denver 2008 Convention Planning Committee is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions to the Planning Committee may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution.
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