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Philip Garrett consistently fails to properly file campaign finance documents; has two foreclosures

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Philip Garrett‘s finance history is a mess.

So, far in his bid to unseat incumbent District 7 council person Steve Kornell, Garrett has filed a series of inconsistent campaign finance reports.

For example, at the end of September Garrett reported $800 in contributions. Then he reported another $420, but failed to include the previous $800. The reports also don’t reflect totals from August when Garrett raised $100.

The contributions also don’t add up. On a report due at the end of September, Garrett listed $241.82 in expenditures. That’s not reflected in the most recent reports filed. Speaking of that report, it also doesn’t add up.

Garrett reported $579.47 in total expenditures for that report period covering September 14 through October 4. In the itemized contributions, Garrett listed $521.63 spent on yard signs, another $150 for an advertisement and various other expenses totaling a little less than $100.

Those itemized expenses far overshoot the $579.47 expenses listed in an overview.

This isn’t the first time Garrett has run into campaign finance troubles. Earlier in this campaign, Garrett failed to report his campaign finances on time even though there was nothing to report but some big old goose eggs at that time. The result, a hefty fine he had to pay himself.

Then there’s his campaign finance history during his 2014 bid against Darryl Rouson for the State House. During that race Garrett received five letters from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections warning him that his campaign finance reports had not been received on deadline and would face fines of $50 per day for the first three days late and then after that, $500 per day.

Those letters were received on June 30, August 11, August 19, September 22 and October 27 of 2014.

Then, in January of this year, the Division of Elections sent Garrett a warning that seven of his mandatory campaign finance reports were incomplete. The mistakes included things like not including the purpose of expenses, addresses for expense recipients or contributors, incorrect dates and even one negative balance transaction.

On February 19 of this year he was given a final notice that the errors had still not corrected. The letter gave Garrett seven days to make the corrections or face fines of up to $1,000. It’s unclear whether the matter has since been resolved.

And then there’s this: Garrett had a home foreclosed on in 2009. Garrett settled the foreclosure with a Deed in Lieu of foreclosure for nearly $70,000.

Another foreclosure is still pending. Those proceedings began in 2013. Garrett initially failed to answer the Lis Pendens, the first step in the foreclosure proceedings, but just last week Garrett filed his answer to that proceeding and also filed a motion to vacate the default on the property. Garrett is not represented by a lawyer.

The foreclosures could be troubling considering much of the funding Garrett has received for his City Council bid and the previous bid for State House were loans from his own personal funds.

In 2014, Garrett contributed more than $2,500 of his own money in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Rouson. This year he’s loaned himself more than $500.

Garrett suffered a huge win when he was endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times based on the sole Tampa Bay Rays issue. Garrett supports a deal to let the team look for stadium sites outside of St. Pete. Kornell does not.

However, Garrett is not polling well. Kornell has a double digit lead over his challenger.

The two face off at the polls November 3.

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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