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Coral Springs Tea Party Activist Files Complaint Against Democratic Leader

A self-proclaimed "Tea Party activist" from Coral Springs filed three complaints again Ron Saunders of Key West, the House Democratic leader, yesterday. James K. Barnes, a salesman by trade, alleges Saunders violated the public trust by "double dipping" on travel and per diem expenses and by violating campaign finance rules.

"Rep. Saunders has, on many occasions, submitted false travel reimbursements and accepted campaign contributions during a Legislative Session in violation of various rules and laws," Barnes wrote in one complaint.

He says Saunders also "requested reimbursement for travel expenses from more than one source for the same travel and has claimed per diem amounts for which he is not entitled."

One complaint points out that Saunders received a reimbursement for his travel on May 15, 2007, when he claimed to be traveling from Tallahassee to the Keys, where he arrived at 5:01 p.m. But Saunders billed a separate account for the same morning, saying he was driving in the Keys from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"Clearly, Rep. Saunders cannot be in two places at once. This double reimbursement resulted in a private gain.'' Barnes writes.

In an email to The Juice, Barnes explained his goals. "Corruption is running rampant in both Florida parties, from Ray Sansom's ethical lapses to party credit card abuse to Saunders' multiple violations," he said. "If the Florida Legislature wants to rebuild trust with voters today, Saunders' apparent violations must also be fully investigated and, if true, punished."

Additional complaints allege Saunders took multiple campaign donations both during the legislative session and after it was established he was running unopposed--both violations of campaign finance rules--and that he did not tell the state in writing about an authorized user of the campaign debit card.

You can read the complaints yourself here, here, and here.

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Michael J. Mooney

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