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Anti-Lisa Wheeler-Brown flier attacks her past criminal record

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The nastiest campaign mailer so far this election hit voters’ mailboxes this week. It’s a blatant attack on City Council candidate Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

One side of the flier shows an unflattering photo of Wheeler-Brown next to the heading, “Can we trust Lisa Wheeler-Brown’s judgement with OUR money?” Below that are several boxes with red X’s in them representing writing bad checks, retail theft, misusing campaign funds and driving without insurance.

The other side of the mailer explains.

“Lisa Wheeler-Brown says she wants voters to judge her on her record. What she doesn’t want you to know is that record is one of egregious fiscal irresponsibility. Despite arrests for writing bad checks and retail theft, she’s asking St. Petersburg to entrust her on the City Council with our hard-earned tax dollars. If Lisa Wheeler-Brown can’t keep her own fiscal house in order, how can she be trusted with other people’s money?”

Wheeler-Brown openly discussed her past convictions for retail theft and writing bad checks at the beginning of her campaign. She explained they were mistakes that happened years ago and she has since learned from them.

The campaign finance misuse of funds, however, is far more recent. Wheeler-Brown spent $500 from her campaign coffers on dental work. After that came to light, it was also discovered that she failed to report several in-kind contributions and had misreport several other items through sloppy bookkeeping.

The mailer outlying all of that was paid for by the Voter Interest Group. The listed agent for that committee is conservative lobbyist David Ramba.

One of the groups that has endorsed Wheeler-Brown, the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats, recently called on Wheeler-Brown’s opponent to renounce endorsements from Republicans. In a letter to Will Newton they argued the endorsements were a step outside of the ideals he claimed to support, including LGBT rights.

And that’s not the only time Newton’s strong conservative backing has come into play. A recent endorsement from the liberal-leaning alternative weekly Creative Loafing for Wheeler-Brown chided Newton for “all that Republican support” after explaining that he would look at city issues on a “case-by-case basis.”

So, while this mailer may hit Wheeler-Brown hard – and where it hurts – Newton may catch some heat from this third-party mailer as well.

The two candidates face off Tuesday at the polls in what is expected to be a very close race.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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