The election battle for Orange County Commission’s District 3 seat took a nasty turn when incumbent Commissioner Mayra Uribe alleged in a Facebook post that her opponent was stalking her.
Her chief opponent, former Commissioner Pete Clarke, said he was stunned. So were a number of political observers who’ve known Clarke for many years and found Uribe’s allegation last Friday hard to believe.
“It’s just ridiculous,” Clarke said, denying Uribe’s assertions.
The matter now has the attention of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Clarke said Tuesday that he personally called the Sheriff’s Office on Friday asking them to look into Uribe’s allegation and received a text that a probe would be assigned to the Sheriff’s intelligence unit.
Then on Tuesday, Orange County environmental activist Chuck O’Neal filed a complaint against Uribe with the Florida Commission on Ethics.
“Falsely accusing one’s opponent of such heinous acts is beneath the office of Orange County Commissioner and will undoubtedly sway some votes in the August 18th primary. This kind of unethical act is detrimental to the democratic process and pollutes the open discussion of ideas and policy positions upon which fair elections depend,” O’Neal’s complaint charges.
Uribe did not respond to requests from Florida Politics for comment.
On Friday, she posted on Facebook saying, “Sadly this is what politics has become. Constant personal attacks, racial slurs and blatant lies. This week I found my opponent sitting in my driveway (stalking) our family, received multiple hate filled texts/voicemails, and even social media pictures, (like below.)”
The pictures are of a mailer and a couple of comments posted on Facebook not by Clarke.
Uribe has two election opponents in the Aug. 18 nonpartisan election, Clarke, and retired Orlando Police Officer Bill Moore.
Moore also denied having done any of the things Uribe alleged.
In comments below the post she wrote on Friday, Uribe appeared to clarify she was talking about Clarke anyway. Responding to someone else’s comment, she replied, “to be clear, Pete was sitting in driveway.”
Several responses to her post were from people who defended Clarke.
“I am certain Pete would not approve of this,” wrote one.
“Pete Clarke wouldn’t do any of these things you just said,” wrote another.
And Clarke, widely known as one of the most respectful figures in Orange County politics, said the same thing. He insisted he has never been in her driveway and would never send, or stand for anyone sending, hate-filled communications.
“It’s just not the way I operate,” Clarke said.
“She took it down. It was up a day and a half,” he added. “I hope all the folks who gave her money are proud of themselves now.”
Moore also expressed indignation.
As a former police officer, Moore cited the law, and said, “For someone to allege stalking, they better have their ducks in a row.”
O’Neal is a Democrat, but he is supporting Clarke, a Republican, over Uribe, a Democrat, because of their positions on the Split Oak Preserve. O’Neal said he filed his ethics complaint not because of his support for Clarke, because he was appalled at the allegations leveled against him.
“Politics is one thing, but destroying a man’s character goes beyond the pale,” O’Neal said.