Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renuart Pays Daughter for Campaign Consulting Work; Low-Cost the Legislator Says She Charges Less Than a Professional Would. LEGAL A Family Member Can Serve in That Role

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renuart Pays Daughter for Campaign Consulting Work; Low-Cost the Legislator Says She Charges Less Than a Professional Would. LEGAL A Family Member Can Serve in That Role

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT DIXON

Political campaigns are often as much about strategy as they are about substance. The right image, or tightly honed political message, can sometimes build a support base faster than individual issues.

In the case of first-term Rep. Ronald "Doc" Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, the architect of his re-election campaign is a 20-year-old who has no professional campaign experience - his daughter, Jennifer.

She has been paid nearly $2,500 since September.

Renuart says his daughter has a host of duties, including serving as his campaign's chief fund-raiser and consultant. His campaign has made two payments to her for a "consultant salary" and "contracted services," according to expenditure reports.

He sent an e-mail to the Times-Union on Tuesday afternoon indicating he did not have the time to answer other questions while the Legislature was in session.

"My busy schedule allows me very little time to respond to communications that are unrelated to legislative issues," he wrote. "Jennifer's campaign activities are in accordance with state election laws."

The state agrees that paying a family member for campaign services is legal, as long as the payments are for work that directly impacts the campaign.

Renuart is running against Democrat Thomas C. Collins for the District 18 seat he has held since 2008. Renuart's campaign has raised more than $40,000.

In an e-mail last week, Renuart said his daughter, who is also the campaign's unpaid treasurer, agreed to take over fundraising duties at a fraction of what a professional would cost.

"Many fund-raisers in Northeast Florida charge a retainer (such as $1,200 per month) plus 10 to 20 percent of the monies collected," Renuart wrote. "My daughter ... agreed to assume the position of fund-raiser for a straight 10 percent of the collections. …

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