MANATEE -- The Florida Elections Commission has found no probable cause in two complaints filed against Commissioner Carol Whitmore in the 2014 election.
Whitmore's Democratic challenger, Terri Wonder, filed the complaints with the commission in October over claims Whitmore made about Wonder's voting record and military service during the campaign.
Wonder alleged Whitmore's claims made during candidate forums were false.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, the elections commission found no probable cause to charge Whitmore with two
In the complaints filed by Wonder, she said Whitmore violated "Section 104.271(2), Florida Statutes, that prohibits a candidate from making a false and defamatory factual statement with malice about an opposing candidate."
Both cases against Whitmore are now dismissed, according to the order of no probable cause.
The order in both cases also states "based on the complaint, report of investigation, staff's recommendation and oral statements (if any) made at the probable cause hearing, the Commission finds that there is no probable cause to charge" Whitmore.
"There was nothing I did that was improper," Whitmore said this week of the elections commission's findings. "This is totally politically motivated. It was just an abuse of the system. It was totally without merit."
In the 2014 election, Whitmore, the incumbent Republican, received 59.5 percent of the vote, compared with Wonder's 40.5 percent.
"I have reason to believe that my opponent, Carol Whitmore, repeatedly made malicious, false claims about me in (front) of hundreds of people, before a candid media and in paid and approved political advertising by Carol Whitmore," Wonder said in the letter sent to the elections commission on Oct. 7, 2014, submitting the complaint.
In February, Bucky Mitchell, Whitmore's attorney, filed a motion to dismiss the second complaint filed by Wonder in regard to the alleged false claims made about Wonder's military service.
According to the motion to dismiss: "the complainant could have very easily raised these allegations when she filed the first complaint, but she did not," which Mitchell stated violated Florida statute.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.