State law enforcement officials have opted not to open an investigation into Orange County Republican party Chairman Lew Oliver, more than a month after a disaffected political activist filed a complaint with state authorities.
Keith Recine, a former vice-chairman of the Ax the Tax group run by activist Doug Guetzloe, had filed a complaint accusing Oliver of misrepresenting some $12,900 in reimbursements that Oliver had claimed for campaign expenses. Recine also alleged that two $10,000 transfers between the Orange and Hillsborough County Republican executive committees were “laundering and mixing federal donations with state donations.”
The complaint was lodged last summer with the state attorney’s office, which sent it to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which sent it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The complaint got reported by numerous media outlets as an “investigation” into Oliver, which it wasn’t. FDLE routinely conducts a “preliminary inquiry” into complaints it receives to determine if they have any merit before it launches an investigation.
And last week, the agency informed Recine that it had received receipts from Oliver’s lawyer and was satisfied no criminal acts had occurred, according to the investigative report released to the Central Florida Politics on Friday.
“Mr. Recine indicated he understood that there did not seem to be any criminal acts committed, but still stated he had numerous concerns about Mr. Oliver’s behavior related to (Orange County GOP) business,” the report states.
FDLE officers “informed Mr. Recine that the issues he had identified … did not fall under the purview of FDLE and would need to be addressed either by the Florida Elections Commission or within the (local party) itself.”
“I am of course relieved, but not in the least bit surprised,” Oliver said in an e-mail. “The complaints filed against me were complete fabrications.”
And he suggested that Recine, Guetzloe and other self-styled GOP rebels will be hearing from him.
“…[T]his is still America, and there are consequences for those who file false charges and commit extensive and repeated acts of defamation. Those consequences are coming…,” he wrote.
The backstory here is that Recine, Guetzloe and other disgruntled Republicans have been fighting with Oliver over control of the party. Earlier this month, Guetzloe was one of several activists suspended by the state GOP.
Recine did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Oliver has maintained the charges were bogus and the money account transfers Recine is referring to are all legal, and were vetted beforehand and later reviewed by the party’s executive committee.