MANATEE -- Former Manatee County Commissioner Donna Hayes was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine after the Florida Elections Commission concluded she had misused excess campaign funds.
The agency clerk said Thursday the fine remains unpaid, and the option to appeal expired April 12.
Hayes said Thursday she tried to pay bypersonal check, but was told the agency did not accept such checks.
She said she is awaiting the return of her personal check from the agency's Tallahassee office before dropping a certified check in the mail, she said.
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"It's a misunderstanding," said Hayes, who served eight years on the county commission before retiring last year. "I'mwilling to pay."
The commission found Hayes put $10,000 in excess funds from her 2008 campaign into an office account from which she contributed to six Republican candidates running for office, according to the elections commission.
"The Respondent committed six counts of violating ... Florida Statutes, when she failed to use her office account for a legitimate purpose by making six donationsto candidates runningfor public office from heroffice account," the elections commission concludedin a final order dated March 13.
"It was an accident," said Hayes. "I wrote some checks to Republican candidates out of the fund. I apologized, I didn't realize I was in error."
Agency clerk Donna Ann Malphurs said, "the fine has not been paid," in an e-mail message Thursday. The agency has no record of an appeal either.
Hayes said she did not use any excess campaign funds for her own personal benefit -- money went only to help political candidates.
Last year, Hayes decided not to run for re-election to the District 5 county commission seat. Vanessa Baugh won the seat in the November election.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.