The race for City Commission seat 2 is heating up.
Today at the Florida Press Center, Steven Hougland, who is running against current City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, revealed that his opponent accepted $750 in campaign contributions from a city vendor on the same day the City Commission voted to extend the vendor’s contract.
The vote referenced by Mr. Hougland took place on October 28th, 2015 when the City Commission voted to extend lobbying contracts for 3 lobbyists without taking competitive bids. The vote approved contracts with two lobbyists for $90,000 annually and a third lobbyist for $40,000 annually.
Mr. Richardson has cast votes to award lucrative contracts to vendors that are helping finance his campaign.
The most egregious example is the October 28, 2015 vote to extend lobbying contracts for 3 lobbyists without taking competitive bids.
Mr. Richardson’s own campaign report shows that all three lobbyists have donated to his campaign. One lobbyist (William Peebles) donated $750 less than a month before the October 28th vote. Another donated $750 in February/March of this year. Finally, the third lobbyist (Ron Book) donated a total of $1500 with $750 being donated on the very day of the contract extension vote.
TR reviewed the minutes of the meeting and discovered the vote was controversial. At the meeting, Commissioner Ziffer expressed dismay that, just before session, the Commission was left with no other option but to extend said lobbying contracts, and requested that a discussion regarding lobbyist contracts be placed on the agenda in the near future.
Hougland also provided information that indicated Richardson accepted 37 campaign checks totaling over $8,000 from vendors doing business with the city.
Hougland said “In the Leon County School Superintendent’s race, we’ve seen complaints of favoritism and awarding construction contracts to individuals or entities that made political contributions. Mr. Richardson’s voting record favoring political contributors is no different.”
He then asked Richardson to return the campaign contributions. “I am publicly asking Mr. Richardson to return the money he accepted from vendors,” said Hougland.
Hougland also proposed a change in policy that would make it illegal for vendors to donate to campaigns. He provided copies of the ordinance recently adopted by the City of Miami and said “I am also asking the city commission to restore integrity to the campaign process and to the vendor selection process by passing a version of the Miami Beach ordinance, which would immediately ban the practice for future elections.”