Tomorrow, Okaloosa County Judge Jim Ward will rule on a motion by Barry Beroset to dismiss the misdemeanor charges for campaign solicitation in a government building against Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino. The actual trial is set for Aug. 16 in Crestview.
I strolled over to the courthouse and read developer Dan Gilmore’s deposition. Gilmore met with Commissioner Valentino last November. He is a key witness for the State Attorney’s Office. He is the person who Valentino allegedly solicited for campaign contributions.
Gilmore met with Valentino to discuss the proposed Sector Plan. When he arrived at the Escambia County Office Complex, Karen Sindel was meeting with the commissioner. She had given him her resignation from the planning board and had told Valentino that she would be running against him in 2010.
When Gilmore walked into Valentino’s office, Sindel stayed a few minutes then left.
Beroset disposed Dan Gilmore and asked what happened next.
Gilmore: “He started looking at it (Sector Plan) and then he got up and left for a few minutes. And I think he just went out and talked with Dean (Gene’s administrative aide) or either Dean came inside. And then he said he needed me to help him in his campaign and then we talked a little bit more about it.
“And then I was showing him the differences in the maps and then he said he wanted me to help him do…help him do a…he wanted my help doing a fundraiser for the campaign. And then, again, I said, ‘Gene, you know, let’s get this. Let’s understand what we’re doing here and then I’ll get with you later on anything you want me to do, but I need you to understand this.’
“And sure enough…I mean, that night when the guys met, they just didn’t know what they were looking at. I mean it took a good 30 days more.”
Beroset: “So when he asked you to help him do a fundraiser and you said, ‘Let’s go ahead and get on with what we’re doing here,’ did he seem distracted?”
Gilmore: “Well, he started talking, but by then we were out of time. You know he had to go to a …I forgot what they call it now. It’s the meeting before the regular meeting.”
Beroset: “Is there anything else that he said about that at the time?”
Beroset: “Other than asked you to help him do a fundraiser?”
Gilmore: “That’s all.”
Beroset: “That’s it. Did you answer him?”
Gilmore: “Well, let me say he asked some questions about the Comp. Plan and the Sector Plan.”
Beroset: “Well, that’s what I meant.”
Beroset: “So then you left?”
Doesn’t look like there is a lot to this case. I’m not an attorney, but I would bet other commissioners and elected officials have done far worse and have been far more direct in asking for campaign help.