Janet Long violates Florida campaign finance law while falsely ordering Pinellas businesses to close

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday evening issued executive order 20-92 in order to prevent local government agencies from issuing orders contradicting his executive order EO 20-91 on “Essential Services and Activities” during the pandemic.

The governor’s EO 20-92  stated that EO 20-91 issued the day before “shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19.”

Janet Long at yesterday’s commission meetin

However, in this campaign e-mail this morning, Long falsely claimed that the commission she is a member of yesterday issued an order “closing all non-essential businesses.” That certainly isn’t true for the “individuals from working from home” mentioned in the governor’s EO 20-91. In fact, her statement isn’t true at all since the governor’s order supersedes the order the county commission passed, and does not close any businesses.

However, if we consider the county’s order, we can see that the same county commissioners who all supported a 1% sales tax hike for the 24 mile light rail Greenlight boondoggle six years ago actually passed a resolution that requires that “non-essential” home based businesses also “must close.”

We asked Long via e-mail an hour before she sent her campaign e-mail whether she would “affirmatively seek to have [Pinellas County resolution 20-23] nullified” at the next county commission meeting. We asked because it seems that 20-23 was pre-empted by the governor’s EO-92. The confusion about government orders is already high among local businesses, and will only increase if pre-empted county “orders” are enforced.

We received no response to our twice e-mailed question before the publication deadline.

The first half of Long’s e-mail was a cut and paste of a press release issued by the county the day before. In copying, Long provided no attribution or reference to the press release.

Long is running for re-election this year and sent out the e-mail in question from her “Janet C. Long Campaign” (see that language that at the bottom of her e-mail).  Long has declared her candidacy for county commission re-election, yet the e-mail did not contain the paid political advertisement disclaimer required by Florida Statutes 106.143.

The omission of the disclaimer makes Long’s e-mail a Florida campaign finance law violation. Long is a former State Legislator and her campaign slogan is “Common Sense.”

As mentioned above, Long did not respond to twice e-mailed questions about her campaign e-mail. We also copied County Attorney Jewel White on our e-mails to Long, and White also did not respond.

Long and the county itself thus very apparently thinks it can defy the governor’s executive order 20-92. Maybe they thought DeSantis EO 20-92 was an April Fool’s joke because it was issued on April 1st?

One thing is clear: the more the public sector seeks to dictate the actions of an already economically gasping private sector, the more they will own the ugly outcome. If so, pitchfork manufacturing may turn out to be a growth sector. Perhaps the only one.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

Here is our previous reporting on Pinellas-related government actions during this pandemic crisis, from the newest to the oldest:

DeSantis’ stay-at-home order means gun shops can stay open. HUGE victory for 2A
FWC redefines the term “navigational hazard,” at odds with federal law. Covid-19!
Pinellas County provides “non-essential” businesses misleading information
Sheriff violates county order with pandemic notices at businesses

Confusion about Pinellas “safer at home” order, authoritarian threats from Sheriff
Covidiot touchfest as Pinellas County imposes severe Covid-19 restrictions
DeSantis’ illegal executive order enables local government malfeasance
Kriseman’s coronavirus executive order invokes powers he doesn’t have

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