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ORLANDO-Twelve statewide home-building trade groups are offering a total $40,000 to settle charges by the Florida Elections Commission which accuses the groups of breaking state law in 2000 by making multiple $500 contributions to local election campaigns. The limit is $500 per candidate per group.

If the commission accepts the offer this week, the case will remain open until a formal inquiry by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is completed.

The alleged violations are misdemeanors and third-felonies. The total amount involved in the alleged violations is $15,000, according to a statement from the commission in June.

No criminal charges have been filed against the groups or their individual corporate officers. But Michael Bass, who heads the political action committee of the Home Builders Association of Mid-Florida Inc. in Maitland, FL, was named as a defendant in the state’s complaint, along with PAC chairmen from the other 11 groups.

Bass and Thomas Lagomarsino, president of the Mid-Florida group, couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn why the 12 associations made the settlement offer when they maintain they broke no state laws.

The complaint alleges the Mid-Florida builders made improper contributions to Alzo Reddick, an unsuccessful Orange County school board candidate, and St. Lucie County commission candidate George Kavanagh.

The Mid-Florida group is also accused of similar violations in the 1998 campaign when Orlando lawyer Mel Martinez won the chairmanship of Orange County. Martinez later was named Secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The elections commission was blocked from investigating the Martinez charges because the two-year statute of limitations had expired.

Tom Garner of Neighbors for a Quality Future, a taxpayers’ watchdog group in Pensacola, FL, filed the original complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.

For earlier story, please see State Agency Accuses Builders of Breaking Election Laws

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