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Thursday, June 30, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: AP story last strike for Maddox?

http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/news/local/12025685.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

Report: Democrats financial problems caused by Maddox

BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Investigators found no fraud, but blamed an accounting scandal at the Democratic Party on poor hiring decisions by former state chairman Scott Maddox, who is seeking the party's gubernatorial nomination.

"The comptroller ... was in over her head," said former statewide prosecutor Melanie Hines, who was hired by new Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman to investigate how the party missed federal tax payments in 2003 and lost track of more than $900,000.
Maddox, the investigation found, played no direct role in the mistakes, but was also unaware of the problems despite pleas from the comptroller for help.

The chairman's chief of staff, longtime aide Paige Carter-Smith, was told by outside accountants about the failure to pay the Social Security and payroll taxes during two quarters in 2003, but didn't remember the conversation, Hines said. Carter-Smith and Maddox, however, were criticized for their hiring choices. "We know that the responsibility for the management of the payroll system was assigned to an individual who had no prior experience in that specific task," Hines said. "And who appeared not to have been trained in that duty" with only a "rudimentary understanding of the process." Hines said the comptroller, Debbie Griffin-Bruton, repeatedly told her managers about her concerns about her ability to handle the job. Maddox said he was not aware of the problems before last week's disclosure by Thurman, who only became chairwoman in May. Thurman said the party has paid off its obligation of slightly more than $200,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, which included interest and penalties. She said the party had about $80,000 in its account Thursday.

Thurman also offered a new five-point plan she said would restore confidence among Democrats in the party's business operations and pledged to find "excellent, credible candidates for every public office." She would not, however, say whether she believed her Maddox remains a credible gubernatorial candidate in the aftermath of the bookkeeping mess she inherited from him.
Maddox scheduled a press availability later to talk about the findings and his future. Griffin-Bruton issued a statement this week accepting blame for the problems. The state Republican Party, which operates with a larger staff at its Tallahassee headquarters, has raised close to $5 million already this year as it readies for the 2006 campaign cycle highlighted by races for governor and the U.S. Senate.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are worse than Joseph McCarthy, Kartik. Give it up already!

Anonymous said...

The audit is now completed & the conclusions are in... read it & weep:

MADDOX IS TOAST!!

Posted on Thu, Jun. 30, 2005

Report: Democrats financial problems caused by Maddox

BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Investigators found no fraud, but blamed an accounting scandal at the Democratic Party on poor hiring decisions by former state chairman Scott Maddox, who is seeking the party's gubernatorial nomination.

"The comptroller ... was in over her head," said former statewide prosecutor Melanie Hines, who was hired by new Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman to investigate how the party missed federal tax payments in 2003 and lost track of more than $900,000.

Maddox, the investigation found, played no direct role in the mistakes, but was also unaware of the problems despite pleas from the comptroller for help.

The chairman's chief of staff, longtime aide Paige Carter-Smith, was told by outside accountants about the failure to pay the Social Security and payroll taxes during two quarters in 2003, but didn't remember the conversation, Hines said.

Carter-Smith and Maddox, however, were criticized for their hiring choices.

"We know that the responsibility for the management of the payroll system was assigned to an individual who had no prior experience in that specific task," Hines said. "And who appeared not to have been trained in that duty" with only a "rudimentary understanding of the process."

Hines said the comptroller, Debbie Griffin-Bruton, repeatedly told her managers about her concerns about her ability to handle the job.

Maddox said he was not aware of the problems before last week's disclosure by Thurman, who only became chairwoman in May.

Thurman said the party has paid off its obligation of slightly more than $200,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, which included interest and penalties. She said the party had about $80,000 in its account Thursday.

Thurman also offered a new five-point plan she said would restore confidence among Democrats in the party's business operations and pledged to find "excellent, credible candidates for every public office."

She would not, however, say whether she believed her Maddox remains a credible gubernatorial candidate in the aftermath of the bookkeeping mess she inherited from him.

Maddox scheduled a press availability later to talk about the findings and his future. Griffin-Bruton issued a statement this week accepting blame for the problems.

The state Republican Party, which operates with a larger staff at its Tallahassee headquarters, has raised close to $5 million already this year as it readies for the 2006 campaign cycle highlighted by races for governor and the U.S. Senate.

ON THE NET

Florida Democratic Party: http://www.fladems.com/


© 2005 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.tallahassee.com

tim said...

This report confirms what the press has been alluding to all along, Scott Maddox is to blame for the shoddy bookeeping and finances of our beloved Democratic Party.

If he truly is a Democrat as he claims he will gracefully step aside from the Governor's race and devote his time over the next few years to helping Chairwoman Thurman rehabilitate our party's finances.

Please Scott, for the good of your party, step down and stand down.

Anonymous said...

Well said above posts. Time to get mad, and get rid of Maddox!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

THIS IS THE MOST DEVASTATING STATMENT IN THE AP ARTICLE:

"...The chairman's chief of staff, longtime aide Paige Carter-Smith, was told by outside accountants about the failure to pay the Social Security and payroll taxes during two quarters in 2003, but didn't remember the conversation, Hines said. ..."

JUXTAPOSE IT WITH THIS STATEMENT FROM THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES:

... Maddox scrambled to contain the damage to his fledgling campaign for governor. He was the party chairman when, the IRS said, the party failed to pay its employees' payroll and Social Security taxes for 2003, but said the IRS lien came as a "total surprise."

He blamed a party bookkeeper - whom he hired - for not telling him.

"She didn't tell her superiors. She didn't tell me," Maddox said outside a campaign fundraiser in Palm Beach County. ...

http://sptimes.com/2005/06/23/State/Underling_blamed_for_.shtml

IT'S TRUE THAT GRIFFIN-BRUTON DIDN'T TELL HER SUPERIORS. BUT THE ACCOUNTANTS TOLD AT LEAST ONE OF GRIFFIN-BRUTON'S SUPERIORS.

THAT PROMPTS THE QUESTION:

WHY DIDN'T MS. CARTER-SMITH (THE FDP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR) SHARE WITH CHAIRMAN MADDOX THE INFORMATION THAT THE TAXES WEREN'T PAID AND THE FEDS MIGHT WANT THEIR MONEY?

Anonymous said...

He is totally finished. I don't think he can say "well Paige let me down," because Paige as we all know is Scott's shadow!

Jeff said...

Maddox has been vindicated! The missing $900,000 was never missing and the report clearly states there was no fraud. The accountants never spoke to Maddox directly about the IRS situation and Scott found out about if or the first time last week.

I feel very good this morning. Scott Maddox has been vilified and roasted on this website and by the newspapers. Today is his day of vindication.

Jill said...

I was going to sit this discussion out because we all feel bad how things have developed, but Jeff you are off your rocker. As I said last week Karen Thurman was not going to take the fall for Maddox's poor staff decisions and oversight.

While the report was tactful and stated Maddox did not know personally, it clearly stated he made poor staff decisions and the two guilty parties were individuals, he hired and whom had both worked for him in the past in the city of Tallahassee.

What this means is that Maddox is 100% to blame for the parties fiscal insolvency. The prior comptroller and Executive Direcotr were both relieved of their duties when Maddox took over, and replaced with what were essentialy cronies of the chairman.

He hasn't been vindicated he has been blamed in a tactful, professional manner by the report.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness this is over. Notice how the party drew the whole thing out until June 30th to hurt Maddox on this financial report? Now that he has been vindicated the papers won't be able to write hatchet job editorials anymore, unless it is about his poor fundraising quarter created BY THE PAPERS RUSH TO JUDGEMENT .

Kartik,

A few weeks ago you bemoaned the declining standard of journalism in Washington. How about the standard of journalism in Florida? How is it any better?

Anonymous said...

A news release from the maddox camp:

Maddox Vindicated



Democrats...take a deep breath.

Today's release of an independent audit of the Florida Democratic Party's finances confirms what we've known since the beginning:

-- No money was ever missing from the Florida Democratic Party. All Party finances are 100% present and accounted for. They have been all along.

-- Scott Maddox had no knowledge of the accounting errors made by his staff and subsequently concealed from him.

In fact, the report goes even further, crediting Mayor Maddox's leadership in making progress toward implementation of stronger internal controls that actually improved the Party's payroll and accounting practices.

When it comes to confirming what we already knew, independent auditor and former prosecutor, Melanie Hines, said it best:

"There is no direct evidence that the former chair was aware of the tax deficiency"

"... the (Party's) failure to pay the taxes was not a deliberate act..it was not an act that was tied to an inability to pay the taxes - in fact the party had the funds to pay the taxes."

"This individual who has identified herself and accepted blame for the problem, also took steps to prevent the managers of the Florida Democratic Party-and others-from learning of her failure."

"It is important to note that the management report from the auditors in 2004 gives credit to the management for making progress in the implementation of stronger internal controls. Specifically, it appears that the problems identified in the payroll incident were addresses both internally and by the addition of independent contractors to perform the payroll and accounting functions."

And no one has addressed these issues more forth-rightly than Scott Maddox himself, who once again faced the media this afternoon to discuss in plain language the facts as they are:

"It is a good afternoon, not only for me, but for the Florida Democratic Party.

For a week now, the Democratic Party and I have been subjected to a multitude of false reports and sometimes personal attacks from Governor Jeb Bush and others. Today, these rumors and attacks were revealed to be what I've said they were all along: false, inaccurate, or overblown.

The findings of the Florida Democratic Party's exhaustive forensic audit, conducted by an independent former prosecutor, confirm what I've said from the beginning:

No party money ever went missing.

While I have taken responsibility for the mistakes of my staff in managing the Party's payroll, the audit confirms I had no knowledge of those mistakes. In fact, as the staffer in question has already admitted, those mistakes were concealed from me.

But today's news is not simply a day about vindication of me or my leadership. It's a day of vindication for the Democratic Party, its principles, and our future."

Our thoughts, exactly.

It's time to move on.

maddoxforcfo said...

Is Maddox going to discipline
Paige for her mismanagment? Or will they take a trip to Costa Rica yet again?

Joe said...

Maddox is prolonging the agony with this nonsense. The longer he draws this out the more and more difficult it will become for Jim Davis or Rod Smith to discuss real issues and connect with real voters.

He is so selfish it is crazy. The guy needs to get a reality check. Jim Davis, who is my choice for Governor hasn't been able to talk issues in over a week now. Rod Smith has likely been put in the same boat. Both Smith and Davis are good men who will serve our party well and deserve better than to share the stage with snake oil salesman whose propensity for lying and spin is unmatched even by the Bush brothers.

Phil said...

I know all the Maddox supporters are angry, but they must remember that Maddox brought this upon himself.

I think Scott needs to take a real long look at whether his remaining in this race is good for the long term of the Democratic Party. I do not see how he could survive the relentless attacks on his management should he win the Primary. Another devistating loss in November '06 could put us in the wilderness for a very long time.

Scott is young enough to recover from this. I would urge him to think about the fact that there are things bigger than him (I know he thinks he is bigger than life), and consider stepping back into private life for a few years.

And if he doesn't, he owes it to his Party to spend some time doing self research. He would be wise to go ahead and dump out there all the other things that are coming and let the press write about. Otherwise, he will drown in the drip, drip, drip of bad press...and probably, take the rest of the Party down too.

I for one personally like Scott (have only met him once or twice), and may very well have voted for him, but all that aside, he needs to do what is right for the state and the Party---which is not necessarily what is best for Scott.

Anonymous said...

Audit clears Maddox of blame for taxes, finds 'missing' money
By Alan Gomez

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Friday, July 01, 2005

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Democratic Party's bookkeeping structure set up during gubernatorial candidate Scott Maddox's tenure as chairman was "a mess" that resulted in $926,000 missing from the books and a lien from the Internal Revenue Service on nearly $200,000 in unpaid taxes, according to an audit released Thursday.

But the audit found that Maddox, one of three Democratic candidates, had no direct knowledge of the flawed finances and instead pinned the blame on Debbie Griffin-Bruton, the party's comptroller who earlier in the week shouldered the blame for the errors.

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Party Chairwoman and former U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman said the party has paid back the $196,000 necessary to remove the lien placed on the party's assets and that the $926,000 that was reported missing from the party's coffers never actually was missing.

Melanie Hines, a former statewide prosecutor who led the audit, said the $926,000 had simply been miscoded through a series of mistakes by the party's bookkeepers. And she said Griffin-Bruton, who Maddox hired as the party comptroller, did not intentionally withhold taxes from the federal government, but was simply "in over her head."

Maddox never signed the tax documents, and Hines said Griffin-Bruton used a stamp of his signature when turning them in, a practice that Maddox said was misused in that instance.

"The problem occurred because of a poor hiring decision, a lack on internal controls and a lack of strong oversight of the financial records of the party," Hines said. "There is, however, no direct evidence that the former chair was aware of the tax deficiency."

Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor, hailed the audit as a vindication and defended his hiring of Griffin-Bruton based on her 20-year history of running Tallahassee's city parks and recreation department's $15 million budget.

"In hindsight, that's very different than doing campaign finance reports," he said. "But she certainly had the background for a job in finance."

The problems centered around two quarters in 2003 when the party did not pay its taxes, Hines said. Griffin-Bruton, who Hines said had only a "rudimentary understanding of the process," repeatedly asked for help, and Maddox on Thursday said he sent her to training and even hired an outside consultant.

Hines' weeklong audit accounted for all the previously unaccounted-for money and Thurman said the party is back on solid footing with about $80,000 in its bank account.

She then presented a "five-point plan" to ensure that similar mistakes do not happen again with the party's finances. She said the party will continue fielding "excellent, credible candidates for every public office."

Maddox, who is facing U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and Sen. Rod Smith of Gainesville in the Democratic Party, said he has no intentions of bowing out of the governor's race.

Anonymous said...

Audit clears Maddox of blame for taxes, finds 'missing' money
By Alan Gomez

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Friday, July 01, 2005

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Democratic Party's bookkeeping structure set up during gubernatorial candidate Scott Maddox's tenure as chairman was "a mess" that resulted in $926,000 missing from the books and a lien from the Internal Revenue Service on nearly $200,000 in unpaid taxes, according to an audit released Thursday.

But the audit found that Maddox, one of three Democratic candidates, had no direct knowledge of the flawed finances and instead pinned the blame on Debbie Griffin-Bruton, the party's comptroller who earlier in the week shouldered the blame for the errors.

More Florida news
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Storm 2005:Hurricane news
• Special reports
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Party Chairwoman and former U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman said the party has paid back the $196,000 necessary to remove the lien placed on the party's assets and that the $926,000 that was reported missing from the party's coffers never actually was missing.

Melanie Hines, a former statewide prosecutor who led the audit, said the $926,000 had simply been miscoded through a series of mistakes by the party's bookkeepers. And she said Griffin-Bruton, who Maddox hired as the party comptroller, did not intentionally withhold taxes from the federal government, but was simply "in over her head."

Maddox never signed the tax documents, and Hines said Griffin-Bruton used a stamp of his signature when turning them in, a practice that Maddox said was misused in that instance.

"The problem occurred because of a poor hiring decision, a lack on internal controls and a lack of strong oversight of the financial records of the party," Hines said. "There is, however, no direct evidence that the former chair was aware of the tax deficiency."

Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor, hailed the audit as a vindication and defended his hiring of Griffin-Bruton based on her 20-year history of running Tallahassee's city parks and recreation department's $15 million budget.

"In hindsight, that's very different than doing campaign finance reports," he said. "But she certainly had the background for a job in finance."

The problems centered around two quarters in 2003 when the party did not pay its taxes, Hines said. Griffin-Bruton, who Hines said had only a "rudimentary understanding of the process," repeatedly asked for help, and Maddox on Thursday said he sent her to training and even hired an outside consultant.

Hines' weeklong audit accounted for all the previously unaccounted-for money and Thurman said the party is back on solid footing with about $80,000 in its bank account.

She then presented a "five-point plan" to ensure that similar mistakes do not happen again with the party's finances. She said the party will continue fielding "excellent, credible candidates for every public office."

Maddox, who is facing U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and Sen. Rod Smith of Gainesville in the Democratic Party, said he has no intentions of bowing out of the governor's race.

TE said...

Maddox has been cleared yet all of you on this website continue to misrepresent facts and events and skew published reports. The writers on this blog should beware, and hope they are not saying anything that would be construed as sladerous in a court of law. Maddox was cleared by the audit and his campaign for Governor has fresh momentum. The efforts of several of you to run Maddox out of the race in order to protect the good ole' boy network in the party has failed. Thank goodness for Karen Thurman!

Scottsourman said...

I agree with the above post. Those of you who have been abusive to Scott run a great risk of being isolated from the party apparatus.

You have lost all credibility and will be undermined.

Anonymous said...

It is finally over!

Sorry contrarians. Maddox has been cleared and will be our next Governor. Get used to Governor Maddox.

Anonymous said...

Maddox will win the nomination after having survived this.

WE said...

At this point we have a few choices as Democrats:

1- Support someone who is dynamic and a very powerful communicator but who was thrown to the wolves by our party insiders but when the evidence came forth that he had nothing to do with the misdeeds is still running wiht a cloud over his head.

2- Support a candidate who speaks well but has a voting record in the State Senate more similar to leading Republicans than leading Democrats and someone who has close ties to the Sugar Inudstry and business lobbyists.

3- Support a candidate who is the fornt runner but is more boring that milk toast.

I pick option #1, the best of 3 bad options. Maddox has a year now to rehabilitate his damaged image and emerge as the front runner.

Jeff said...

Maddox has been vindicated as have those of us who have stuck with him through this difficult week where rumors and gossip were taken as the gospel by this website and others.

Maddox now emerges stronger after being victimized by a hostile press and political establishment on his way to an easy victory for the nomination next year.

Anonymous said...

Maddox is toast, guys. Don't you get it?

Anonymous said...

Maadox could recover from this if he plays his cards correctly. He is in a position where he could very easily win the nomination because the opposition is so weak.

Joe said...

Will this save Maddox's candidacy? Likely he cannot win the nomination, but he will not have to drop out of the race either. He needs to make a decision. Lose the primary or drop out, rehabilitate himself and come back stronger than ever in four years.

Al said...

I am shocked to read the threats by the Maddox camp against Kartik and others who are just saying what has been reported in the papers.

If you favor Maddox, that's fine. But who the hell are you to start threatening other Democrats. Jeff Tinsley, a Maddox volunteer who has been posting on this site as "Jeff", sent out an email through the DEC email list that threatened payback for any Dems that speak out against Maddox. Is that the Maddox team's idea of party unity? You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

I was willing to give Maddox a second chance, but I am becoming more and more discouraged by the company he keeps. The Maddox supporters that are posting on this site are not worthy to be called Democrats! You are doing the most damage to your candidate and the most damage to the Florida Democratic Party!!

Anonymous said...

Lakeland Ledger Editorial:
http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050705/NEWS/507050307/1036


Published Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Maddox Gets More Baggage

No question about it, Scott Maddox has name recognition. Lots of it. The kind no other candidate for governor wants. Maddox is pulling more baggage than the Amtrak Silver Meteor.

Revelations in mid-June of how Maddox handled the financial affairs of the Florida Democratic Party, which he chaired until his May departure to run for office, were bad enough.

His explanation that it was all the fault of the party comptroller, Debbie Griffin-Bruton, was lame, even though she accepted the blame.

Her admission also was accompanied by a news story that Maddox's real estate company had purchased Griffin-Bruton's house in 2002 to help her and her ailing husband.

And last week, there were more news stories about fines and unpaid personal property taxes.

It's time he withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination and give viable candidates a chance. Here's a look into the Maddox baggage car thus far:


The newest piece of Samsonite came Thursday from The Ledger's Tallahassee bureau. While Maddox was chairman of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee, the committee failed to file a bond and an audit with the county supervisor of elections as required by law.

The Leon County DEC had already paid a $10,500 fine to the county supervisor's office for filing a campaign-expense report past the deadline while under Maddox's watch.


The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported Wednesday that Maddox paid $2,632.47 in overdue Leon County property taxes on a home his company, Spectrum Resources, purchased three years ago from GriffinBruton. The taxes were paid after the newspaper asked Maddox about them.

The newspaper also reported that the 2002 purchase of the home by a company controlled by Maddox and his wife came at a time when Maddox was mayor of Tallahassee, and Griffin-Bruton was financial director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. He said John Bruton, her husband, was a former city policeman suffering from Alzheimer's and he has allowed them to live in the home by paying a token rent, which he waived last year when Bruton went into long-term care.

While the city is run by a city manager, the mayor helps set city policies governing the city's departments and its employees. That Maddox would enter into such an agreement with an upper-level

city employee -- no matter how kind-hearted -- raises ethical questions.

Maddox said the county sent tax bills to his previous address, from where he moved last June and sold this April.


Maddox released a letter from Griffin-Bruton on Wednesday in which she said she made "several honest mistakes" as the state party controller. She was resigning that position and her position with the Leon County DEC last week.

Stress over her husband's health distracted her and resulted in mistakes "including the nonpayment of payroll taxes for the Florida Democratic Party and delinquency in filing reports, and late fees for the Leon County DEC."


Those mistakes were reported two weeks ago when the IRS slapped a lien on the state party for failing to pay $200,000 in payroll taxes.


An audit by the state party found $900,000 that was previously thought missing from party coffers. The audit found GriffinBruton had rudimentary skills for the job, and was "in over her head." Maddox had no knowledge of the bookkeeping mistakes, the audit found.

Maddox responded by saying the audit proved the attacks on him were "false, inaccurate or overblown."

But the audit hardly vindicated Maddox's two-year job as party head. "It is clear that the problems occurred because of a poor hiring decision, a lack of internal controls and a lack of strong oversight," said Mealin Hines, a former statewide prosecutor who supervised the weeklong audit.

Karen Thurman, who was named state Democratic Party chairwoman after Maddox left in May, said the party's accountants warned of severe internal control problems in a March letter, and the audit had found those controls to be "absolutely, unequivocally the worst."

Meanwhile, Maddox told a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times last week, "I've got a record of achievement at the city of Tallahassee, and I took a very bad situation at the state party and made it better. . . . I'm going to move forward and talk about the issues that affect Floridians."

Like what? What kind of people he'll hire to help him manage a state with a $65 billion budget?

It's time for this lumbering baggage hauler to get on a side spur and let some express trains by.

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