Official records show Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley violated Florida elections laws by accepting campaign contributions before he became a candidate for elected office. Chapter 5 of the Florida Division of Elections “Candidate and Campaign Treasurer Handbook” states, “Nothing prohibits a person from announcing their intention to become a candidate prior to filing Form DS-DE 9, as long as no contributions are received, no expenditures are made, and no signatures are obtained on a candidate petition.” The State says Form DS-DE 9, “Shall be on file with the filing officer prior to the candidate accepting any contributions or making any expenditures, or authorizing another to accept contributions or make expenditures on the person’s behalf.” Judge Hurley filed his Form DS-DE 9 with the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) on April 10, 2015.
However, campaign financial reports filed on Monday show Hurley was accepting contributions as far back as February 2015.
The Hurley campaign filed three separate campaign treasurer’s reports on Monday. Even though Hurley did not file his Form DS-DE 9 until April, the first two reports cover February and March. The third report, which covers April 2015, includes contributions made before Hurley filed his Form DS-DE 9.
The first report shows the campaign accepted a $1000 contribution from Judge Hurley himself on February 3, 2015. This contribution was made more than two months before Hurley filed his Form DS-DE 9 with SOE.
The second report lists a $1000 check from George Cable of Fort Lauderdale.
The third report has two contributions made before the April 10th filing of Hurley’s Form DS-DE 9. On April 7th, the campaign received a $250 contribution from the Law Office of Lawrence Wolk, a Fort Lauderdale law firm. On April 9th, Hurley accepted a $1000 contribution from Mark McCarthy of Pompano Beach.
McCarthy, a licensed private investigator, is well-versed in Florida election law and procedures. He is the former treasurer of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC). Despite his cadre of Democrat consultants, Judge Hurley was a former BREC member.
The question remains: why did Judge Hurley, a veteran of several political races, start accepting campaign contributions months before officially becoming a candidate?
Did he make a mistake? Did Ed McGee, his campaign treasurer, make mistakes? McGee, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, is also a veteran political operative. Taking campaign checks before becoming a candidate is something amateur, first-time candidates may do.
One courthouse insider wonders if the media savvy Judge Hurley was attempting some damage control by showing contributions from February.
On January 20th, REDBROWARD revealed Judge Hurley was operating a vanity website promoting his live appearances in Broward bond court.
Hurley’s bond court antics play out over a courthouse feed viewed by law enforcement, bail bondsmen and the media. On Hurley’s website, the bond court feed from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is prominently displayed. The spartan site contains little else. Oddly enough, if you click the “sample video” link on his website, you will find a Twitter post where Hurley is refererred to as an “asshole.”
REDBROWARD reported at the time that Hurley, a fraternity brother of former Governor Charlie Crist, had not filed any campaign paperwork. The website is operated by local Democrat operative Ron Mills of RainbowUSA hosting.
When contacted by REDBROWARD, Mills said Hurley is “fully aware of the website.” He said he is operating the website as a volunteer. Mills said Hurley is “definitely aware of the site….it gets lots of hits.”
Then on April 9th, REDBROWARD reported Hurley was soliciting contributions on a new website.
The equally spartan site contains new glamour photographs of Hurley as well as a link to donate money to Hurley via Paypal. Well, kinda.
When you click on the PayPal button, users are redirected to a page under the name “Brittany Zarin.” REDBROWARD has learned Ms. Zarin works for former Republican Congressman Allen West’s political committee.
The website no long lists Zarin on the PayPal page.
Hurley’s vast army of apologists may claim this election law violation is no big deal.
Yet, does Judge Hurley give the same leeway to defendants appearing before him in bond court? Do prosecutors and public defenders get to ignore laws and procedures when appearing in Hurley’s bond court?