Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Losing Candidates Unload Funds; Stern and Maguire Plan to Donate Their Unused Money to Charity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Losing Candidates Unload Funds; Stern and Maguire Plan to Donate Their Unused Money to Charity

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK PETTUS

Two St. Johns County Commission candidates were clear front-runners in campaign funds before the September primary, but they finished in the back of the pack on primary day. Now both have an early December deadline to decide what to do with their leftover campaign dollars.

Commissioner Karen Stern set a record with about $197,000 raised in her failed campaign for re-election. When the primary election was over, Stern was left with $23,000 - more money than her opponent, Ron Sanchez, had collected - and 90 days to dispose of it. Commissioner Bruce Maguire of Ponte Vedra Beach, who raised about $140,000, had roughly $7,200 left to dispose of in the same amount of time.

Stern and Maguire are still tallying expenses from their campaigns, and the final amounts may shrink once they pay for things such as having their campaign signs removed from throughout the county.

Stern said she intends to fund scholarships for students in West Augustine through the Leo Chase Scholarship Fund with any leftover campaign money. After that, she intends to give to the Sunshine Center in memory of her mother and to the Disabled American Veterans in memory of her father.

Maguire vowed any leftover money will go first to Disabled American Veterans to help them buy a van. After that, he intends to divide any leftover money between the Salvation Army and the Boy Scouts.

Maguire and Stern have until Dec. 4 to report their decisions to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Supervisor of Elections Penny Halyburton said that while the candidates have to turn in their termination reports, listing what they've done with their remaining campaign funds, the county elections office doesn't review those reports to ensure the money has gone to the stated listings. Halyburton said an audit can be done at the state level, but only by request.

Candidates in Florida face limited options for money leftover following a campaign. Losing candidates have even fewer choices than winners, and the time clock on the 90 days starts on the day of the election in which they are eliminated. …

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