News Section: Local Government
Bennett Draws Criticism for Offering Partisan Support
Bennett Stumping for Galvano at a fundraiser
in 2011. Photo by Brian David Braun
BRADENTON – Some Manatee County residents are perturbed that Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett is putting himself back into the thick of partisan politics. Bennett, who won the non-partisan post last year after terming out as a state senator, recently endorsed his former Republican primary opponent for state committeeman, and will also help fund-raise for State Senator Bill Galvano, who took over his former seat.
Last week, Bennett sent out a letter (click here to view) in support of Ed Bailey for the GOP's state committeeman in Manatee County. The letter appeared to be on Manatee Supervisor Elections letterhead, leading one recipient to forward it to The Bradenton Times, questioning whether it violated electioneering laws. It turned out that the letterhead was not in fact the official SOE version, and it seemed as if Bennett had sent it out on his own, using his home for the return address.
However, Patty Benson, Chair of the Manatee County Democrat Party, feels that using the title and even presenting the appearance that he's directly using the non-partisan post to benefit a candidate is an affront to Manatee citizens.
“The Supervisor of Elections office is a non-partisan office and even though Mr. Bennett can, if he chooses, endorse anyone he'd like too, he shouldn't be doing it on letterhead that says Supervisor of Elections,” said Benson.
Supervisor Bennett was also prominently named as a co-host of an upcoming fundraising event for State Senator Bill Galvano. The invite (click here to view) refers to "Senator Mike Bennett," rather than SOE, though some critics noted that Bennett had indicated he'd stay out of the political fray when he was campaigning for the office. Bennett's staff indicated that he was off yesterday and not available for comment before deadline.
|photo by Brian David Braun|