Did Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter use her campaign fund to help her gain sway with the Obama Administration in the hopes of getting a plum job in the White House?
People forget that once upon a time it was supposedly a done deal that Mrs. Ritter was headed to Washington.
And the road to the White House payroll was paved with more than just early and vocal support by Ritter -- there was a lot of cash involved. Her own campaign cash.
She gave $15,000 of her campaign money to a committee associated with Obama's 2008 National Democratic Convention in Denver. She put her limo ride for an Obama-related trip to Chicago on her campaign tab as well. And now come the notorious campaign receipts showing expenses of more than $2,100 at the swank Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood.
They both appear to be Obama-related as well.
Remember the huge $1,889 campaign expenditure by Ritter's husband, lobbyist Russ Klenet, at the Diplomat? Remember that Ritter told the Sun-Sentinel that she couldn't remember what it was for? Wel,l it appears that it coincided with a big rally held for Obama at the hotel.
Here's the receipt:
The less-expensive Diplomat charge of $299 came on May 22, 2008. Guess who was in town on that date? Michelle Obama, who was also being hosted at the Diplomat.
Ritter and the First Lady became friendly during the campaign, in which Ritter was an early supporter of Obama's. Ritter threw a presidential fundraiser at her Parkland home featuring an appearance by Michelle Obama in April 2008, which is pictured below (photo via Flickr shot by Alex Johnson).
When Ritter was named by fellow commissioners as mayor of Broward County in November, Michelle Obama was reportedly the first person to call and congratulate her.
All the while Ritter was angling for a job with the White House. On January 7, Ritter traveled to D.C. to interview with Obama's transition team. From the Miami Herald at the time:
Broward Mayor Stacy Ritter interviewed with President Elect Barack Obama's transition team today in Washington D.C. but says she isn't going anywhere immediately.
"This is a long process -- it could take four, five, six months,'' she said.
Ritter said she has expressed an interest in jobs in the energy or commerce departments. A former state legislator, Ritter said one of her goals this year as mayor is to make the county more energy efficient.
There has been talk for months about whether Ritter and her lobbyist husband Russ Klenet will go to Washington, D.C. but the question has been whether she will get an offer for a sufficiently prominent position to give up her mayoral post.
Ritter also apparently was thinking of a possible ambassadorship at the time. In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel editorial board, Ritter talks about how she likes to "see the world." Here's the video: