TALLAHASSEE | State Rep. Kimberly Daniels is under investigation by the Florida Elections Commission after it found probable cause that she used campaign funds for personal expenses and later falsely reported information on finance reports.

 

The allegations stem from 2015, when Daniels was running for re-election to the Jacksonville City Council. According to records obtained from the Elections Commission, an investigation was launched after a complaint was filed that year about a $4,000 expenditure listed on her campaign finance report.


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Daniels is accused of using the money to purchase a magazine advertisement promoting a book she wrote called “The Demon Dictionary.” The advertisement, published in Shofar Magazine alongside an article in which Daniels discussed Jacksonville politics, encouraged readers to purchase the book without any mention of her political campaign.

Daniels declined to answer questions when a reporter stopped her in the Capitol on Monday. Her attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

She has until April 12 to request a formal hearing on the charges. If she is found responsible for violations, she could be fined.

According to the state records, when the Elections Commission asked Daniels to justify the expenditures, she said the $4,000 was paid to Shofar’s editor for campaign-related services. Daniels said that Katina “P.K.” Mickens was hired to cover campaign events and manage the candidate’s Facebook account.

Mickens told investigators a different story. She said the money was for the article and the ad and there was never agreement that Mickens would assist with Daniels’ campaign.

The Elections Commission, during a closed-door portion of its meeting in February, determined there was probable cause to charge Daniels with three campaign-finance violations. In addition to using campaign funds to defray normal living expenses, she is also accused of submitting false or incomplete statements on campaign reports and authorizing an illegal campaign expenditure.

The case will be discussed publicly during the commission’s meeting in May.

Daniels was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in November after her City Council re-election bid was unsuccessful. There was a second complaint received by the Elections Commission in 2015 that accused Daniels of accepting campaign contributions above the legal limit. That case was dismissed after an investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Both complaints were filed by David Vandygriff, a Jacksonville LGBTQ activist who is among Daniels’ most vocal critics. He said Monday that he has filed other complaints that are still pending, though he declined to go into detail.

The accusation that she misused campaign funds could have implications for Daniels beyond the Elections Commission.

Two former House members recently faced criminal penalties, including Jacksonville’s Reggie Fullwood. He was sentenced to six months of home detention followed by probation after being convicted of federal charges stemming from $60,000 in personal charges that were paid for using money from a campaign account.

Earlier this month, former Rep. Dwayne Taylor of Daytona Beach was indicted in federal court on charges that he withdrew $2,440 from his campaign account that he later deposited into a personal account.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office that has jurisdiction in Jacksonville, when asked whether Daniels was under review, said he could not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations until or unless any individual is charged.

Tia Mitchell, (850) 933-1321