A political committee chaired by former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was late reporting any financial activity in 2021. The state informed Forward Florida that beginning Sunday, the committee would begin racking up $500-a-day fines.
Officials with the political committee say they filed the report on Sunday afternoon, which should stop the accruing of further fines. While the report is not yet available online, the committee did provide a copy of the information in an email to Florida Politics.
The report showed the committee had two expenditures, including $13,500 in quarterly software costs with NGP Van and $719 in legal fees with the law firm Perkins Coie.
Bureau of Election Records chief Kristi Reid Willis sent a letter to Gillum after the committee missed a Wednesday filing deadline. The letter stated the committee for the first three days afterward would be levied $50 fines per day for failing to file. That’s a small charge and not an unusual one for committees to pay. But after three days, automatic penalties of $500 per day kick in.
“Even if you end up filing your report late, we cannot waive the statutory fines,” the letter reads.
In a comment to Florida Politics via Twitter, Forward Florida director Rosy Gonzalez Speers said the committee should avoid even a day of the $500 fine.
“It was filed on the 4th day, so it’s three days late,” she tweeted. “Read the statute.”
The failure to file on time comes after a similarly named nonprofit, Forward Florida Action, that’s tied to Gillum also had to file an amended financial disclosure to correct the number of employees working there.
The political committee on Jan. 19 alerted the state that it was changing treasurers. The committee sent a letter to former treasurer Shaun Davis, a CPA based out of Hollywood, to inform him that his services were no longer needed. The same day, the state informed the Division of Elections that Yolanda Brown would now serve in that capacity. Brown was reached on Sunday by Florida Politics and asked why the committee had not yet filed any financials but said she would have to check on that and would get back to the outlet.
Fines for the political committee will rise each day a report is not filed but cannot exceed 25% of total receipts or expenditure for the cover period. In December, the last month of activity reported, the political committee raised no money but spent $12,092.
Notably, Forward Florida Action has also dropped Davis’ service in favor of Brown. But Davis prepared an updated financial disclosure for the nonprofit after records released in November sparked scrutiny on the group’s spending. That included realizing a prop check given to the Florida Democratic Party was not accompanied with actual cash.
The updated disclosure provided little in the way of scandal. They did make clear Forward Florida Action employed 10 people in 2019, not just three. Officials at the nonprofit previously acknowledged the lower number was an error. It also showed Gillum was volunteering about 20 hours per week on behalf of the organization, not two.
The new disclosures also itemized some of the spending done by the nonprofit in 2019. That included sending $25,000 to Journey Forward, $30,000 to Equality Florida Action, $75,000 to Tides Advocacy Poser Latinx, $100,000 to the For Our Future Fund, and $250,000 to Organize Now.