Castor violated Florida law by using city resources for her political campaign and political committee

In an e-mail Thursday morning announcing a City of Tampa pandemic relief program, Mayor Jane Castor wrote “We will get through this together. We are one city, one community, and One Tampa.”

The city named its pandemic relief program “One Tampa” and is allegedly aimed at residents and businesses “most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.” However, rather than a pandemic relief effort, One Tampa discloses itself to be a political campaign effort.

Jane Castor

At the very bottom of Castor’s e-mail, it says “Copyright © 2020 Tampa Strong.”

Tampa Strong is the name of Castor’s political committee (PAC), which helped propel her to victory in last year’s mayoral election.  However, city employees may not engage in “political activities” while at work .

The mixing of political activities and municipal government is strictly prohibited by Florida Statute  104.31(2), which states that “an employee of the state or any political subdivision may not participate in any political campaign for an elective office while on duty.” Any violation is a first degree misdemeanor.

The cost of sending out Castor’s e-mail through MailChimp was paid for the by the city.

We asked Ashley Bauman, the city’s Director of Marketing & Communications, the following question: why is the city sending out copyrighted material from Castor’s political committee?

Bauman did not respond to this or any of our 10 questions.  We spoke to Bauman on the phone to make sure she knew we had sent her our e-mail with questions.

Castor’s “informational” e-mail also has this text right at the bottom:

Our mailing address is:
Tampa Strong
PO Box 75724
Tampa, FL 33675-0724

That post office box was used by her political campaign “Jane Castor for Mayor of Tampa” just last year. That PO box is also not a City of Tampa PO box.

Castor’s e-mail thus shows that the PO box is now also used by her supposedly Tampa Strong political action committee (PAC), an organization that previously used a Franklin Street address and that is supposed to be separate from her campaign.

“We are One Tampa,” Castor said in her e-mail. Perhaps Castor was actually referring to her political campaign, her PAC and city government being one big happy entity. Whatever the case may be, how did Castor’s campaign material make its way in to the city’s MailChimp account?

The “We are One Tampa” messaging doesn’t sound diverse or inclusive. Such considerations are understandably swept aside when an emergency is used to improve Castor’s re-election chances by using public funds to help her political supporters.

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

Our previous reporting on Jane Castor:
Jane Castor campaign misleads voters about its own fundraising success
…which showed Castor equating campaign funds with PAC funds in her messaging to voters. Thus organizational boundaries don’t appear to exist for Castor.

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