Their eyes met in a crowded room...
Their eyes met in a crowded room...

Was Stacy Ritter's Big Gift to Obama Illegal Too?

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.  

Why, there you go. Open-and-shut case in Ritter's favor, right? 
Not so fast.
Federal election records show that the check didn't go to the planning committee but to the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. It clearly shows a $15,000 political contribution from "Stacy Joy Ritter For Broward County Commission" being deposited on August 28, 2008. Don't believe me, click here and see for yourself (go to page 242). 
Again, the host committee isn't a charitable organization but a political one, a 501(c)(6) where the contributions aren't tax-deductible and would count as a political contribution to the Democratic Party.
So once again, it seems Ritter has landed on the wrong side of the law. What I'm wondering is, how many of those supposedly charitable and tax-deductible convention planning committee checks wound up in the noncharitable and non-tax-deductible host committee coffers.
Bottom line is that Ritter's big political patronage of Obama paid for by special interests didn't do her any good on the job front. She never made it to D.C. Right about the time she was supposedly interviewing, details came out about her husband's close ties to fraudster Joel Steinger followed by one controversy after another. And her dance with Obama came to an abrupt end.


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