The campaign of Miami city commission candidate Richard P. Dunn II came under scrutiny Friday when the city clerk asked the state to look into the campaign’s most recent finance report, and a U.S. Post Office inspector said he believed the candidate mailed the report to the city 18 days after the Oct. 4 deadline — much later than the campaign claims.
Dunn, considered the frontrunner for the city’s District 5 seat in Tuesday’s election, filed a campaign finance report with the city last week that listed some questionable spending, and the campaign has admitted to paying some workers in cash, which is against state elections law.
The report was due at the city clerk’s office Oct. 4, but arrived Oct. 24, city records show. Still, Miami Elections Coordinator Dwight Danie accepted it as on time after seeing a postmark on the 1-Day Priority Mail envelope dated Oct. 4. The Dunn campaign told Danie it had mailed the report on Oct. 4 but it had gotten tied up in the mail.
The timing is important because state law says a campaign may be fined $500 for each day a finance report is late.
In a letter sent to the Florida Division of Elections on Friday, Danie said that after receiving complaints from the public, he wanted the agency to determine if “we are following the right path.”
“I clearly understand that campaigns are always testing boundaries. But it is my understanding that even to look up the USPS tracking number goes beyond the ministerial duty of the filing officer let alone trying to interpret a USPS tracking report,” Danie wrote. “I have informed the people complaining of the process of filing a complaint with your office or the office of the State Attorney.”
Danie also says in the letter that Dunn contacted him repeatedly to see if the financial report had arrived.
“As time went by after Oct. 4, the candidate was contacting me daily to see if I had received the report…. He clearly expressed his concern to me,” Danie wrote.
Also on Friday, U.S. Postal Inspector Tracy Schaeffer said there is evidence the report due Oct. 4 did not enter the mail system until Oct. 22. Schaeffer said the postal service began looking into the matter this week after a group of citizens approached one of his officers.
Asked for comment, the Dunn campaign had not responded by Friday evening.
Schaeffer said video taken at the post office’s General Mail Facility at 2200 NW 72nd Ave. shows someone purchasing a pre-paid postage label for 1-Day mail with a scanning code on it at 6:08 p.m. Oct. 4, stuffing it in an envelope, then leaving without mailing it. That date and time correspond with a tracking report of the purchase of the pre-paid envelope by the Dunn campaign that was made available by the postal service. The post office, Schaeffer said, has no record of the envelope with the tracking number being scanned — which Schaeffer said happens when the mail officially enters the system — until 18 days later, on Oct. 22.
The tracking report lists the Oct. 4 visit as “Acceptance (SSK),” which Schaeffer said only means that the prepaid postage label was purchased at a self-serve kiosk, not that it entered the mail system. The tracking record shows “Acceptance” on Oct. 22, which Schaeffer said is when it was initially scanned and first entered the system.