The Florida Elections Commission has decided not to pursue a complaint filed by an Alligator Point resident against the school district regarding how it conducted promotion of the March 6 tax referendum.


The Florida Elections Commission has decided not to pursue a complaint filed by an Alligator Point resident against the school district regarding how it conducted promotion of the March 6 tax referendum.



At its Aug. 14 meeting in Tallahassee, the commissioners agreed with a staff recommendation that there was no probable cause to charge Roy Carroll, the district’s former director of financial services, with violation of section 106 of the Florida Statutes, which requires that political advertisements be marked with a proper disclaimer.



According to a June 6 staff report prepared by Eric Lipman, the FEC’s general counsel, Allen Feifer lodged the complaint March 5 alleging that Carroll, as treasurer of Citizens for Franklin’s Great Schools, failed to mark an ad with the proper disclaimer.



Lipman’s report said Citizens for Franklin’s Great Schools was a political committee, properly filed with the Florida Division of Elections and Supervisor of Elections Ida Elliott’s office.



The ad in question, urging a yes vote on the four-year, half-mill tax levy, was circulated in the weeks before the election. The disclaimer read “Pd. For by Citizens for Franklin’s Great Schools Contact Roy Carroll to join this group.”



Lipman said Carroll told investigators “he did not personally see nor was aware of this flyer” until he was sent it as part of the FEC inquiry.



“As ‘Citizens for Franklin’s Great Schools’ Treasurer, I did not approve the production or distribution of the flyer submitted by Mr. Feifer,” Carroll said. “No monies were expended from ‘Citizens for Franklin’s Great Schools’ to pay for this flyer, nor any other flyer.”



Lipman reported that in a May 18 affidavit, Rik McNeill, representative of the local teachers’ union, testified that he prepared and paid for the flyer. McNeill told investigators that he had updated an older version of the advertisement that previously ran in the newspaper.



“The disclaimer on Mr. McNeill’s political advertisement is incorrect,” wrote Lipman in his report. “A proper political disclaimer would have been ‘Pd. Pol. Adv. Paid for by Rik McNeill, 182 Packbrook Circle, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.’



“Because is appears that (Carroll) did not control, coordinate, or consult with Mr. McNeill in creating or praying for the advertisement, it does not appear that (Carroll) violated (the statute),” Lipman wrote. “The political disclaimer on Mr. McNeill’s advertisement erroneously made it appear that (Carroll) was responsible for, or connected to, the advertisement in question when he was not.”