Miller Says $10,500 He Paid His Wife Was To Run Campaign

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Miller Says $10,500 He Paid His Wife Was To Run Campaign

From The Tampa Tribune

A mid-­December campaign finance report shows Les Miller paid Gwen Miller $10,489 on Nov. 9 for "services rendered." 

Les Miller said couldn't afford a high-priced campaign consultant last year when he was running for the Hillsborough County Commission District 3 seat, so he hired his wife as campaign manager.

Miller's last campaign finance report, filed in mid-December, shows he paid Gwen Miller $10,489 on Nov. 9 for "services rendered."Miller said his former campaign manager, who handled his races for state House and Senate, did not want to work on the county commission campaign.

"I couldn't think of anyone better than my wife, who's won elections," he said. Gwen Miller is serving her fourth term on the Tampa City Council, most recently defeating businessman Joe Redner for the District 1 seat in March 2007. She is not running for re-election.

It's not illegal to hire a family member to work on a candidate's campaign. It could be illegal,however, if the money is used for personal benefit instead of legitimate campaign expenses, said Tom Scarritt, a Tampa lawyer and former chairman of the state Ethics Commission.

Scarritt said campaign funds paid to family member must be reasonable, necessary to the campaign and within the normal range of cost for such goods or services.

Miller said his wife worked on the campaign for two years, recruiting campaign workers to walk neighborhoods and make phone calls. She took care of having signs printed and newspaper advertisements placed.

"I needed someone to take care of the nuts and bolts," Miller said. "I didn't have the money it would take to hire a campaign consultant."

Miller won 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 24 Democratic primary, defeating incumbent Commissioner Kevin White and Valerie Goddard,chair of the county's Children's Board. He easily defeated a write in candidate in the general election.

Before his election to the commission, Miller served in the Legislature from 1992-2006.

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