TAMPA The District 6 Hillsborough County Commission race heated up Tuesday as Democratic incumbent Commissioner Kevin Beckner found himself targeted in an election contribution complaint.
David Campo, a development consultant and frequent contributor to local candidates, filed the complaint against Beckner with the Florida Elections Commission, citing four cases where contributors to Beckner's re-election campaign exceeded the state's $500 contribution limit per election.
Campo said he is not supporting Beckner's opponent, Republican Margaret Iuculano. His motivation for filing the complaint was what he called Beckner's recent attempt to "derail" the Economic Prosperity Stakeholders Committee, an ad hoc group commissioners created to streamline development regulations.
Also still stuck in Campo's craw is an election commission complaint against then-Commissioner Brian Blair, whom Beckner defeated in 2008. Blair ended up paying a fine for accepting a contribution total over the limit.
"Someone filed one against Blair, so I thought I'd file one against Beckner," Campo said. "I'm not working for anybody. In fact, I haven't even made a contribution to his opposition."
Beckner said the contribution violations were mistakes that resulted for the most part from contributors using different e-mail addresses.
Refund checks of $50 and $100 have been issued to Betty Castor and Charles Cave, respectively, two of the contributors identified by Campo, and $100 to John Tonnison, who was not named in the complaint.
Castor was formerly state secretary of education and a president of the University of South Florida.
Another contributor named in the complaint, Charles Cecil, gave Beckner $1,000 in two contributions of $500 each. Beckner, who was headed to a fundraiser when contacted by a reporter, said he was not sure how Cecil exceeded the limit. He promised to research the campaign records and refund money to Cecil if warranted.
A $1,000 contribution from Urgent Care LLC cited in the complaint was not illegal, Beckner said, because the company's contributions were from different company divisions. Such contributions from different parts of the same company have been criticized by reformers in the past.
"We search every reporting period for over-the-limit contributions," Beckner said. "It was just last week we discovered multiple (computer) files on these individuals. We're in the process of correcting those."
Campo, who opposes excessive county development regulations, said he has been angry since a Sept. 6 county commission meeting when Beckner placed an item on the agenda dealing with the Economic Prosperity Stakeholders Committee.
The item dealt with a letter from a committee member who said the panel should be abolished. The resulting board discussion revealed the committee lacked focus and had been less than productive over several months of meetings.
Campo said he thought Beckner's action was disrespectful and embarrassing for Commissioner Sandy Murman, who was the driving force behind the committee's creation.
"I want to see (the committee) do something positive, but you can't wreck it before they even (recommend) something to the board," Campo said. "Sandy Murman was very polite; I would have lit him up."