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Philip Garrett’s campaign finance numbers don’t add up

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Philip Garrett doesn’t seem to understand how campaign finance reports work. At least that’s the take-away from his latest treasurer’s report filed at City Hall Friday.

According to the report covering September 14 through October 4, Garrett listed $420 in monetary contributions with his total raised to date listed as the same amount. Likewise, he reported spending $579.47 during that period with no other expenses prior to the reporting dates.

First, in the previous reports due at the end of September, Garrett listed $800 in contributions and $241.82 worth of expenses. Neither of those amounts is reflected in the most recent reports.

Second, the expenses Garrett listed on the latest report don’t match up to the itemized expenditures. He wrote that he spent more than $520 for yard signs and another $150 to Polnet Communications for an advertisement. There were also various other expenditures for things like bank fees and “consultations.” Add the amounts together and they far exceed the total he reported.

It’s not surprising that Garrett would spend little time ensuring accuracy in his financial reporting considering he has vowed to run a campaign with minimal funding. Fundraising has not been on Garrett’s agenda.

However, the inconsistent reports could come back to haunt the District 5 candidate hoping to unseat Steve Kornell by highlighting his inexperience.

Meanwhile, Kornell’s campaign has raised nearly $50,000 to date with $5,530 coming in during the latest reporting period. Of his $47,827 raised, Kornell has spent all but about $2,000. Most recently, Kornell shelled out nearly $25,000 for campaign mailers.

Kornell continues to attract committee money with three realtor PACs contributing $500 each. The SEIU Florida Public Service Union PAC kicked in $1,000 and another labor group wrote a check for $250.

St. Pete business owner Jonathan Stanton donated the maximum $1,000 to Kornell’s campaign. As did Lema Construction and Developers. Hap O’Neil, a St. Pete business, donated $500 and local attorney and activist Johnny Bardine wrote a check for $150 from his law firm.

Among Kornell’s other expenses this report includes a $3,000 payment to his campaign manager, Dario Scalco and $1,600 to Buzzfish Marketing for his website.

Kornell’s campaign took a kick to the shins recently when the Tampa Bay Times announced they were endorsing his opponent. The Tampa Tribune, however, backs Kornell.

The wide funding gap between Kornell and Garrett will likely make all the difference. In a recent poll, Kornell had a comfortable 16-point lead over Garrett.

The two face each other 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 Patch.com 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 janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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