Hagan pulls a Johnson
County Commissioner Ken Hagan is using the same tactic Buddy Johnson used to get his name out for the next election. He’s distributing campaign material made to look like public service announcements. See for yourself. Wayne Garcia writes,
A curious piece of political literature has been hitting South Tampa homes over the past few days as a handful of County Commissioner Ken Hagan’s supporters do what is called a “lit drop” of campaign literature.
Only it is not really campaign literature, or at least, it doesn’t carry the necessary campaign disclosures that a campaign advertisement would carry. Nor is it a county government piece, as it points out that it was “Not produced at taxpayer’s expense.”
He may not have spent $600K of taxpayer money on his campaign pieces, like Buddy Johnson did, but Ken Hagan used our county logo on his flyer without paying us for it, so he cannot claim that his flyer was not at our expense. (Try using the Disney or Coke logo on your business ads and see if they don’t think you owe them compensation.) I’m sure the other members of the county commission did not authorize this handout, nor this use of the county logo, so Hagan has no right to use our county logo on this self-promotional piece.
The big photo of himself (with no other commissioners), with his name twice in big bold type, offering his services — not to his constituents in his North Hillsborough district (District 2), but to South Tampa voters outside his current district, where he is conducting a campaign for a countywide seat — makes this clearly a political campaign piece, and it should carry the requisite political campaign disclosures, not masquerade as a government-sponsored publication under the banner of our county logo.
Hagan’s flyer says:
“My staff and I were walking in your neighborhood today. I am leaving a questionnaire and issue request form that you can fill out to give me input on any issues that concern you or your family. I am also leaving my phone number and E-mail in case my staff or I can be of assistance.” [emphases added]
Hagan claims this was “Not produced at taxpayer’s expense,” while claiming to be walking door-to-door with his “staff” and offering the assistance of his “staff” — meaning his taxpayer-funded county staff, right? So is our county staff handing out Hagan’s campaign literature while they’re acting as county staff — in their role as government workers, not campaign workers — on our dime? Or are they volunteering to work for his campaign on their own time? If they’re volunteer campaign workers, then they’re handing out campaign literature, which must include all legally required campaign disclosures, and must not include our county logo.
“Since Hagan apparently used personal funds, nobody is saying what he is doing is illegal.”
How can this not be a violation of campaign finance laws? These laws were enacted precisely to protect the public against this kind of sneaky, off-the-books campaign funding. Once you declare yourself a candidate, as Hagan has, you can donate as much as you want to your own campaign, but you cannot pay for and distribute campaign literature without running the expenses through your campaign account, open to public inspection.
Instead of being open & honest about walking door-to-door with campaign workers handing out campaign literature, Ken Hagan is pretending he is performing a public service (and roping county staff into his act), when he’s really distributing self-serving campaign flyers. Instead of running an honest campaign, frankly discussing the issues, Half-Truth Hagan is trying to be tricky.
Headline crafted by clever wordsmith Tommy Duncan, ed., SticksOfFire.com, where this was originally published.