Sarasota News Leader

09/27/2013

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$5,000 MORE Lourdes Ramirez, president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, addresses the County Commission earlier this year. Photo by Norman Schimmel FORMER SARASOTA REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN FINED AGAIN By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Former Republican Party of Sarasota County head honcho Bob Waechter has been hit with another fine, this one from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), for his alleged role in a series of fake campaign donations made to 2012 Democratic candidates. to run for a seat on the Sarasota County Commission next year. The Sheriff's Office first contacted the FEC last New Year's Eve, writing that Ramirez believed Waechter had made a $200 contribution to Democrat Keith Fitzgerald, a congressional candidate, in her name "in order to influence the voting public from supporting her in the future." In a Jan. 30 follow-up letter, the Sheriff's Office wrote that detectives had discovered another federal donation, $250 to President Barack Obama, which had been made at the same IP address and with the same prepaid VISA card as the Fitzgerald donation. On Sept. 17, the FEC notified the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office that it had reached a $5,000 settlement with Waechter in the matter, which was referred to the FEC by the Sheriff's Office on behalf of Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) President Lourdes Ramirez. Prosecutors here have filed identity theft charges against Waechter, alleging he illegally used Ramirez's name to contribute money to Democratic campaigns. The VISA card was purchased at a Sarasota Ramirez, a Republican, is positioning herself Sweetbay by someone resembling Waechter,

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