Education

Web sites take aim at school board candidates

A new website coupled with an elections law complaint claim Manatee County School Board incumbent and candidate Dave Miner isn’t living up to his nickname.

In addition to filing a complaint with the Florida Elections Committee about Miner’s in-kind contributions to his re-election campaign, school board candidate Misty Servia, who is challenging Miner in the Nov. 8 election, launched NotOurWatchdog.com. The website, which plays off Miner’s “Watchdog” nickname, points to a number of issues Miner has been involved in during his four years on the board, saying he is no longer “our watchdog” and must be unseated.

In return, Miner has launched his attack website, WhoWillServiaServe.com, saying Servia abandoned her promise to bring harmony to the board by going negative “in a big way.” Miner’s site points out donations Servia has taken from developers, implying Servia will only serve the interests of developers if elected.

“Nearly all of Ms. Servia's largest donors (those who gave at the maximum $1,000 level) are developers or closely allied with developers,” the site states. “Mr. Miner serves only the children and citizens of Manatee County. Who would Ms. Servia serve?”

NotOutWatchdog.com was created on Sept. 28 and WhoWillSerivaServe.com was created on Sunday, according to information provided by GoDaddy.

Servia claims, both on the site and in her complaint, that Miner is “violating 106.11 of the Campaign Finance Law by making the vast majority of his campaign expenditures veiled as ‘in-kind contributions’ from himself to his campaign, a systematic skirting of campaign finance law that drastically lessens transparency.”

In-kind contributions are campaign donations that include goods and services and don’t include money. For example, if a restaurant donates pizza to a campaign party, the value of the pizza would be listed as an in-kind contribution.

Miner has reported more than $35,000 worth of in-kind contributions to and from himself since September 2015, listing advertising, signage and office equipment as in-kind contributions.

“If one is careless with the truth on campaign accounting, our voters should be concerned with how this individual will handle himself as a public official,” Servia said in a statement announcing her complaint filing.

On Monday, Miner said he was not aware of the complaint, so he “cannot comment on the substance of it other than to say that my campaign tries to have our reports comply with the law.”

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

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