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Candidate Qualifying

June 7, 2012   //     //   Announcements, Video

This is the week for candidates to qualify for the August and November election ballots. The Supervisor of Elections office provides the necessary forms for all offices. Shockingly, none of the required paperwork requires and candidates Social Security number, Driver’s License, Voter’s Registration number or any other type of unique identifying official form of identification.

The State of Florida does not perform any type of background check on any candidate running for public office. The State expressly says, “Whether a candidate has a criminal record is left up to an opponent, the media and/or the electorate to determine.”

When I performed the task left up to me by the State of Florida, I was sued by my opponent, current County Commissioner Jess Santamaria. The lawsuit was filed in January of 2011 and was decided by a three day jury trial in April of 2012. The jury reached a verdict in my favor in about one hour. Santamaria has filed an appeal with the State of Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals.

It is astonishing that an employee must go through a background check to work for the County in the Clerk & Comptroller’s office but no background check is performed before a candidate is elected to run the County. That candidate can be elected to vote on the county budget but can’t work for the office that pays the bills of that budget without a background check. A person can’t be a volunteer at the South Florida fair without a background check but you can run to be a Board member of the fair.

The State of Florida provides no protection to any individual who performs the responsibility entrusted to him/her for determining if a candidate has a criminal record. This leaves the well intentioned voter at a completely vulnerable position of being the target of a lawsuit by the person being vetted. Twice so far I have asked the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to support an effort to rectify this exposure. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) provides background checks for firearms purchases and other official purposes. At a minimum, candidates could submit information to the FDLE and a level of candidates eligibility assurance to the voters could be obtained. So far there has been no response from any member of the BCC or any employee of the County.

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