Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 130083
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File Number: 130083 File Type: Ordinance Status: Amended
Version: 0 Reference: Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: CREATING REPORTING REQUIREMENT FOR CAMPAIGN WORKERS Introduced: 1/14/2013
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action:
Agenda Date: 1/23/2013 Agenda Item Number: 7A
Notes: REQUIRES 6WKS/4WKS; SEE 130391 FOR FINAL VERSION AS ADOPTED Title: ORDINANCE CREATING REPORTING REQUIREMENT FOR COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL CANDIDATES REGARDING PAID AND VOLUNTEER CAMPAIGN WORKERS PARTICIPATING IN ABSENTEE BALLOT RELATED CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES; PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT AND FOR OTHER VIOLATIONS OF ABSENTEE BALLOT LAWS; PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT BY THE COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST; CREATING SECTION 12-14.1 OF THE CODE; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE [SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 121737]
Indexes: ABSENTEE BALLOT
  CAMPAIGN WORKERS
  CAMPAIGNS
Sponsors: Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Prime Sponsor
  Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 1/23/2013 7A Amended
REPORT: (See Agenda Item 7A Amended; Legislative File No. 130391 for the amended version.)

County Attorney 1/14/2013 Assigned Oren Rosenthal 1/14/2013

Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 12/12/2012 2B Amended Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation with committee amendment(s) P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Chairwoman Jordan opened the floor for questions or comments from members of the Committee. Commissioner Sosa asked to be added as a co-sponsor to this item. Chairwoman Jordan asked whether this item would require reporting of all volunteers or only those who handled absentee ballots. Commissioner Diaz indicated that only those individuals who handled absentee ballots would have to be reported. Chairwoman Jordan asked how the commissioners would ascertain which individuals working on their campaigns were handling absentee ballots. Commissioner Diaz said that he had been running campaigns for 30 years, and always knew what everyone did. He noted the reason for this item was that it gave more validity to the whole process and was intended to make it more transparent. He said that the Assistant County Attorney had to read an amendment into the record. Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal read the following amendment: In Section 1 of the proposed ordinance, Sec. 12-14.1, 5th line, the words “supervisor of election,” should be replaced by “officer responsible for receiving such candidate’s contribution or expenditure reports.” He said that this would make it clear that the supervisor would only receive the reports regarding absentee ballot workers from County officials. He explained that municipal candidates would then have to file with the appropriate municipal officer with whom they normally would file their campaign and finance reports so that the supervisor would only be receiving the requisite reports. Commissioner Zapata said that he applauded the spirit of the item, but was concerned about its mechanics. He asked how this proposal would be enforced and whether anyone could file a complaint which would trigger an investigation. He pointed out that this could be used by people against the candidates to create distraction and chaos during the campaign. Commissioner Diaz pointed out that if anyone accused a candidate, an investigation would be carried out, and during the course of this investigation, the candidate would have the opportunity to clarify who was volunteering with his campaign. He noted the item provided penalties for people who used volunteers for absentee ballots, but did not file a report. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal indicated that if a candidate failed to file a report, the supervisor or municipal officer would have the authority to institute a fine, which could be appealed to the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. He noted other complaints would also be within the purview of the Ethics Commission, under sub-Section 3 of the ordinance. Commissioner Zapata said that if he was running as a candidate and his opponent decided to file complaints against him, this item would give the opponent additional ammunition. He noted his main concern had to do with independent groups that mount absentee ballot operations, and asked the County Attorneys how this ordinance could be crafted so that it created a more transparent process and did not end up harming the candidates. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal stressed that the ordinance would not cover independent groups, as it only covered people who were operating on behalf of a particular campaign. With regard to potential abuses of the law, the Ethics Commission would hear complaints, he clarified. He said that the intent of this item was to add a knowledge base to make it absolutely clear who worked for a particular campaign. Commissioner Diaz indicated that this would constitute a faster and easier way of determining who worked for a campaign on absentee ballots. Commissioner Zapata said that although he had some hesitation, he would support the item. He said he was concerned that despite all the good intentions, this item could be used to harm candidates. Chairwoman Jordan noted she would support the item for now, although she had concerns about the volunteers. She inquired whether this would discourage people who wanted to volunteer. Commissioner Diaz stated that they looked at this issue when they were drafting this item. He said that this item was intended to give the Mayor one more tool in determining who was working on absentee ballots, and that it could be adjusted as it moved forward. Commissioner Zapata noted he recalled an individual during his election who was wearing one of the T-shirts from his campaign, but who was not authorized to do so. He said that this individual was carrying out activities that were contrary to his interests. He pointed out that if an onlooker saw the individual working on absentee ballots, it could create significant damage. He reiterated that the County Attorneys would have to craft the ordinance in such a way that it did not have unintended consequences. Commissioner Diaz noted he recalled an overzealous individual in one of his campaigns who created T-shirts bearing his name and placed stacks of signs on the highway. Commissioner Diaz said that he ended up paying $600 in fines because he was not authorized to place the signs on the highway. Commissioner Monestime noted what he liked about this item was that if some individuals had bad intentions they would be more reluctant to volunteer. He asked the County Attorneys whether this item covered entities that volunteered. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal clarified that anyone who was independent from a campaign would not be covered; on the other hand, if a campaign had a consultant who hired people to perform an absentee ballot operation, they would be covered by this ordinance. Commissioner Monestime asked whether third parties and Political Action Committees were covered. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal reiterated that only those people who were working on behalf of the campaigns would be covered. Commissioner Sosa observed that the part of the ordinance about volunteers seemed to be creating the most concerns. She pointed out that when a candidate paid someone, she/he set the standards. She said that the commissioners needed to protect themselves from abuse, and sometimes volunteers created problems on purpose. She suggested that this item be analyzed carefully by all of the commissioners when it was considered by the full Board, to guard against unintended consequences. Chairwoman Jordan pointed out that it was not possible to legislate morality or honesty. She said that she would support the item for now, but noted her concern was that she did not want to discourage honest volunteers by telling them that they had to provide all this information that would go into official documents. Commissioner Diaz noted this was a valid point, but in the campaigns that he ran in the past, the majority of the volunteers were there for the right reasons. He stressed that the candidate would have to be aware that a violation had been committed to be held accountable. However, he was willing to adjust the item before it reached the full Board. Commissioner Jordan reiterated that she would support the item for now. She indicated that in the past some of the people who worked on her campaigns refused to be paid and she did not want to discourage them. Commissioner Diaz stated that the commissioners need not worry about these volunteers, but rather about the people who demanded to be paid. Commissioner Monestime said that he would await the County Attorneys’ advice on the best way to amend this item to guard against unintended consequences. He noted he looked forward to having this conversation again before the full Board. Hearing no further questions or comments from the Committee members, the Committee proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed resolution, as amended.

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE CREATING REPORTING REQUIREMENT FOR COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL CANDIDATES REGARDING PAID AND VOLUNTEER CAMPAIGN WORKERS PARTICIPATING IN ABSENTEE BALLOT RELATED CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES; PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT AND FOR OTHER VIOLATIONS OF ABSENTEE BALLOT LAWS; PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT BY THE COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST; CREATING SECTION 12-14.1 OF THE CODE; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMIDADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section 1. Section 12-14.1 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida, is hereby created to read as follows in its entirety:
Sec. 12-14.1. Absentee Ballot Campaigning Reporting Requirement.

(1) Each campaign treasurer designated by a candidate for County or municipal office in Miami-Dade County shall, at the time of filing any contribution or expenditure reports otherwise required by law, file an additional electronic report with the [[Supervisor of Elections]1 >>officer responsible for receiving such candidate’s contribution or expenditure reports<<. The report shall identify the names of all paid or volunteer campaign workers, whether employed by the campaign or any consultant or agent of the campaign, participating in the campaign or undertaking any other activities regarding absentee ballots. The report shall be filed on a form created by the Supervisor of Elections for such purpose.

(2) Any candidate failing to file a report as required by this section on the designated due date shall be subject to a fine of $50 per day for the first three (3) days and, thereafter, $500 per day for each day late not to exceed $5,000. Such fine shall not be an allowable campaign expense and shall be paid only from the personal funds of the candidate. Any candidate may appeal or dispute the fine to the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust based upon, but not limited to, unusual circumstances surrounding the failure to file on the designated due date, and may request, and shall be entitled to, a hearing before the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, which shall have the authority to waive the fine in whole or in part. Any such appeal or dispute shall be made within twenty (20) days after receipt of notice that payment is due or such appeal or dispute shall be waived.

(3) Candidates for County and municipal office in Miami-Dade County may not direct or knowingly permit any paid or volunteer campaign worker to violate any provision of the Miami-Dade County Code or Florida Law regarding the conduct of absentee voting. Any such candidate found to violate this subsection by the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust shall, in addition to any other civil or criminal penalties provided by law, shall be subject to the penalties provided in Section 2-11.1(bb) of the Code of Miami-Dade County.

Section 2. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 3. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any sunset provision, shall become and be made a part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention, and the word ''ordinance'' may be changed to ''section,'' ''article,'' or other appropriate word.

Section 4. This ordinance shall become effective ten (10) days after the date of enactment unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.

1Committee amendments are indicated as follows: Words double stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] are deleted, words double underlined and/or >>double arrowed<< are added.

This Item was amended at the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee on December 12, 2012 to change the official who receives the report from the Supervisor of Elections to ''the officer responsible for receiving such candidate’s contribution or expenditure reports.''



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