Complaint against citizen group dismissed


According to a report received by Historic City News from The Florida Elections Commission, on September 10, 2008, Marcy Silkebaken filed a complaint against Craig Maguire, Doug Worth, and Citizens for Responsible Local Government, Inc.

Silkebaken was complaining that Maguire and his group made contributions to Citizens for Voter Education, but failed to register first as a political committee.

At issue was the source and amount of funds used by the group to mail a flyer that was highly critical of the proposed county charter. At the time, the charter was being pushed by then St. Johns County Commission Chairman Tom Manuel – who has since been removed from office and has pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.

The charter proposal was embroiled in controversy and failed to pass on two separate attempts.

Manuel had called the flier group, Citizens for Voter Education, “fear-mongers” who are illegally dispensing “false and misleading” information about the charter.

Maguire reportedly said “The bottom line on the charter is: Show me the benefit. There are too many glitches remaining and too many problems to resolve.”

Maguire admitted that Citizens for Voter Education should have registered by August 8th.

The group of about two dozen residents from Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine and Hastings, including several local farmers, accepted contributions and made expenditures before registering as an electioneering communication organization.

But, Maguire says the violation was unintentional and, in fact, the paperwork had already been completed and was delivered to the Supervisor of Elections on Wednesday, September 17th.

Although Silkebaken made her complaint on September 10, 2008, about a month later, on October 29, 2008, a preliminary injunction enjoining the Commission from enforcing the electioneering communications provisions of Chapter 106, Florida Statutes was entered.

Staff immediately placed the investigation of Silkebaken’s complaint in abeyance.

On May 22, 2009, the United States District Court, Northern District of Florida, entered an order granting a motion for summary judgment — declaring Section 106.03(1)(b), Florida Statutes, (and other statutes), unconstitutional and stricken in its entirety from Chapter 106, and enjoined the enforcement thereof.

The order was not appealed and became final on June 22, 2009.

This week, Charles A. Finkel, General Counsel for the Florida Elections Commission, submitted a Motion to grant a Motion to Dismiss case FEC 08-246; which was approved by the Commission in a 6-0 vote – rendering Silkebaken’s complaint unenforceable.