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DCCC launches social media blitz over Ross Spano criminal investigation

The group is targeting voters they believe can be persuaded to vote against Spano.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee beginning Friday is boosting an ad on Facebook and Instagram calling attention to recent reports that Congressman Ross Spano is under criminal investigation.

The ad shows a sneaky looking Spano in black and white with a red bar across his chest with the words “REP. SPANO: UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION” emblazoned across it.

The top of the boosted post shows a red siren emoji next to “BREAKING” and then goes on to explain that the U.S. Justice Department “is officially investigating” Spano.

“It’s shameful. Whether he’s tying himself up in campaign finance scandal — or siding with big drug companies instead of lowering our prescription drug costs — Rep. Spano continues to embarrass and fail our community,” the post reads.

The DCCC is targeting “thousands” of “persuadable” voters in its Facebook and Instagram social media blitz.

“People across Florida’s 15th congressional district are going to learn about the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into self-serving Congressman Ross Spano and the continued embarrassment he brings to hardworking families across his district,” DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said. “Instead of taking responsibility for his illegal acts, Congressman Spano is trying to blame everyone but himself, even as more questions are being asked about his hair-brained campaign financing scheme.”

At issue are two loans Spano accepted from friends during his 2018 congressional campaign. Spano borrowed $70,000 from Karen Hunt and $110,000 from Cary Carreno through four personal loans, then contributed the money to Ross Spano for Congress through installments between May 3 and Oct. 29.

The problem with that is, while candidates can loan their campaign personal funds, using loans from friends to then finance a campaign may represent a violation of campaign contribution limits. For congressional seats that limit is $2,700, far below what Hunt and Carreno loaned Spano.

Earlier in the day, the Florida Democratic Party called on Spano to resign, a move that is unlikely to unfold.

Spano defended the latest news on his ethics investigation continuing to say the misdeed was unintentional, but also turned the tide on Democrats for what he described as a politically motivated stunt to disparage him before an election.

His partisan claims are difficult to defend, however. The Board of Directors for the Office of Congressional Ethics, the group that voted to move forward with an ethics investigation, exists as a nonpartisan groupand its members include those with both Republican and Democratic ties. The board’s vote was unanimous.

The Committee on Ethics, which is responsible for undertaking the ethics investigation, consists of five Democrats and five Republicans.

The ethics investigation is on hold pending the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation.

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 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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