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TALLAHASSEE, FLA.10/25/17-Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, chair of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, speaks Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Federal

Ross Spano has yet to repay illegal campaign loans, according to FEC reports

The freshman lawmaker did not repay those loans within his own self-imposed deadline.

Republican Congressman Ross Spano still owes himself and other campaign donors $170,000 from what might have been illegal loans.

That’s according to Spano’s year-end Federal Elections Commission report. A spokesperson for Spano claims the loans were paid back before the end of the year from a personal loan Spano took out and said that information would be reflected in personal finance reports due in May. 

Spano said in a letter to the Federal Election Commission in December that he financed his congressional run with personal loans, a violation of campaign finance regulations.

Spano borrowed $180,000 from two friends, $70,000 from Karen Hunt and $110,000 from Cary Carreno, which he contributed to Ross Spano for Congress in four installments made between May 3 and Oct. 29.

“While FEC forms don’t include a box to check for ‘campaign finance crimes,’ Congressman Spano’s latest filing makes his corruption crystal clear,” DCCC Spokesperson Melissa Miller said. “His serious legal and ethical lapses make him an unfit Representative for the people of Florida’s 15th District.”

Miller jokingly listed Spano as a Republican from “Money Laundromat” in a release highlighting the latest FEC report.

After admitting he might have violated elections laws, Spano claimed he had received bad advice about the contributions and, at the time, thought it was legal.

In a letter to the FEC disclosing the potential violation, Spano said the loans carried a 5 percent annual interest rate and would be repaid in full by the close of the next week.

The latest report shows Spano might not have repaid those loans within his own self-imposed deadline. Questions later rose about whether or not Spano had also broken election laws in 2012.

Spano’s opponent in the 2018 election, Democrat Kristen Carlson, has since asked the FBI to investigate the potential violation. Carlson lost the race by six points, but that was still considered a decent showing in a district that favors conservatives.

Another Lakeland woman, Jan Barrow who chair’s the Lakeland Democratic Women’s club, also filed an ethics complaint against Spano.

Despite the onslaught of complaints, Spano has been serving in Congress since being sworn in early January.

He represents the 15th Congressional District in Lakeland and surrounding areas. Spano succeeded Dennis Ross, the Republican who vacated the seat this year.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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