HD 36: Gunter denies he hid past in Pasco school district application

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Bill Gunter, one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Florida House District 36, has not hidden that he was arrested in the 1980s for petty theft.

He also has been arrested a handful of other times, in Manatee County for misdemeanor driving with a suspended license and in Alachua County for battery. Gunter has used his history to tell people about how he turned his life around.

But Gunter rejects accusations by the Florida Times-Union that he failed to disclose his past when he applied in 2007 to become an assistant football coach at River Ridge High School in Pasco County, where he’s seeking to serve.

And the Pasco school district backed him up.

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe told the Tampa Bay Times that the district requested criminal background checks from the FDLE and FBI on Gunter when he applied, and both came back clean. (The district would not provide those documents, citing an exemption to the state public records law.)

Further, she noted, the district’s application asked 15 questions relating to criminal history. Those asked about convictions and findings of guilt, and not of arrests. Gunter had no convictions — his Alachua County battery charge was tossed by prosecutors, and his Manatee DWSL case had adjudication withheld.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.