Election contribution complaint filed in Sarasota School Board race

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Herald-Tribune | By Ryan McKinnon | August 10, 2020

Sarasota County School Board member Eric Robinson, who is running for reelection for his District 3 seat, is the subject of a federal election complaint.

The complaint, filed by self-described political activist George Thurlow, alleges that a PAC for which Robinson serves as treasurer accepted a $2,500 donation from a Canadian company.

Robinson said he could not comment on the PAC’s activity because he is not the manager, but he said he had simply recorded the transaction and that no one would have known there was a donation from a firm with a Canadian address if he had not reported it. 

“This is clearly going to be tossed out, but it is going to be used for campaign purposes,” Robinson said.     

The PAC, “Florida Country,” is one of the many committees that Robinson serves as treasurer for through his Venice CPA firm. It has been sending out mailers in support of Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran’s reelection campaign.

A copy of campaign contributions to Florida Country attached to Thurlow’s complaint shows that on April 21, Queensgate Homes donated $2,500 to the committee. The firm has a Woodbridge, Ontario, address listed.

On Monday, the committee’s contribution list has an April 21 $2,500 donation from Queensgate Homes — Vensota Properties. This contribution has a Lakewood Ranch address of 11536 Palm Brush Trail, #517. 

A search for the address in the state’s Division of Corporations shows that Vensota Properties is listed at that address, with Fausto Palombo listed as one of the company’s officers. 

Palombo is a real estate developer who started his firm in Canada and has bought and sold land and built properties in Southwest Florida since the late 1980’s.

Federal election law has no prohibition against PACs accepting funds from a U.S. corporation that is the subsidiary of a foreign corporation, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Robinson is entering the final week of his reelection bid, facing former New York businessman and lobbyist Tom Edwards in a race for the District 3 seat.