Word to the wise aspiring politicians: If you omit financial information when disclosing your personal net worth to voters, you will get caught. Just ask Mark Weithorn, who ran a failed campaign for state legislative seat representing Miami Beach last year. At its regular meeting in June, the Florida Commission on Ethics fined Weithorm $3,000, as well as recommended that Gov. Rick Scott publicly censure and reprimand him because he didn't list a bank account and two monetary judgments against him on his financial disclosure statement.
Weithorn, whose wife Deede is a Miami Beach city commissioner, lost his bid for Florida House District 113 in the August Democratic primary.
Riptide left Weithorn a message on his cell phone seeking comment about his ethics punishment, but we haven't heard back yet. According to ethics commission records, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer named Alan Geffin filed a complaint against Weithorn on August 1, 2012, accusing him of purposely omitting a $13,500 debt he owed on his financial disclosure form, which is a violation of state election law. Geffin represented Glenn Schmidt, a former business partner of Weithorn, who had won a final judgement against him in 2009.
According to the document Weithorn filed with the state division of elections, he reported a net worth of $950,000. He listed his $625,000 house on Stillwater Drive and two real estate investments valued at $250,000 as assets. His only debts were a $350,000 home mortgage, $85,000 in real estate loans, and a $5,000 car loan. There is no mention of the $13,500 owed to Schmidt.
"It is impossible that he was unaware of the existence of this final judgement," Geffin wrote in his complaint.
The ethics commission subsequently determined that Weithorn also failed to list a final judgment of $89,724 owed to Banco Popular for a small business loan he never paid back. In an interview with ethics commission investigators, Weithorn admitted he "made some errors" because it was the first time he filled out a financial disclosure form. He claimed that he had no idea he was required to list the monies owed to Schmidt and Banco Popular because the debts were "business-related." As a result, Weithorn said he did not calculate the two judgements into his net worth.
However, Weithorn provided the investigators with copies of an amended financial statement he sent to the elections division via FedEx, as well as tracking number information that showed the documents were delivered. But investigators could not locate the amended document at the elections division office in Tallahassee. The amended statement shows the bank and Schmidt debts, as well as a $1,000 bank account as an asset that had not been listed before.
The inclusion of the debts bumped down Weithorn's net worth to $859,000.
In April, Weithorn agreed to a stipulation order with the ethics commission to pay the $3,000 fine and accept a public censure and reprimand from the governor.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.