Registered Republican and Donor to House 28 GOP Incumbent Files Incongruous NPA Candidacy
Casselberry, FL (April 20, 2020) – Campaign finance violations involving new NPA (non-party affiliation) candidate Michael Riccio have come to light in the in the hotly contested race for Florida State District 28. It was discovered that Riccio breached numerous campaign finance laws including soliciting and accepting a donation before officially filing his candidacy with the state, accepting a donation above the legal $1,000 limit, and using a personal check from a donor to pay his filing fee. The check was deemed “not valid for qualifying” by the Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Democratic Candidate for House Seat 28, Dr. Lee Mangold, has filed a formal complaint with the state.
“The complaint I filed was due to campaign finance violations that, it appeared, the State was not pursuing. We need to take campaign finance seriously and soliciting donations in excess of statutory limits without being filed as a candidate is a serious problem,” explained Mangold. “While mistakes occasionally happen, it was obvious that Mr. Riccio did not read the state-provided handbooks prior to filing for office. This is the bare-minimum for someone running to become a Florida lawmaker.”
In addition to the filing and finance violations, the Mangold Campaign found it surprising that Riccio, a long-time Republican and a donor to Republican David Smith’s 2020 re-election campaign for District 28 decided to run against the incumbent a mere eight months after personally contributing to his re-election effort. In addition, Riccio also recently voted in the 2020 Republican Presidential Primary.
In 2018, the race for District House Seat 28 was decided by a razor-thin margin with Republican David Smith edging out Democrat Lee Mangold by just 51 to 49 percent. Next door in adjacent House District 29 the race similarly fell to the Republican by a very narrow margin of just 51 to 49 percent. Interestingly, Riccio filed as an NPA with the state on April 13, 2020, while in similarly contested House District 29, another NPA candidate entered the race a month earlier.
“So, Mr. Riccio met with Republican incumbent David Smith in August 2019, donated to his campaign, voted in the Republican primary and decided to run – not as a Republican, but as an NPA,” said Mangold. “This is a common GOP strategy in in districts like ours. They convince someone to run as a third-party candidate in order to pull NPA votes from Democrat candidates.”
In an April 16, 2020, article on the site FloridaPolitics.com, Riccio defended his candidacy saying, “I’m not a spoiler candidate.” Mangold still maintains that Riccio is a Republican candidate purposefully obscuring his partisanship by filing to run as an NPA. “It’s interesting that he used the word ‘spoiler’,” said Mangold. “That was his word, not mine, and I think that’s telling.”
Mangold was the first Democratic legislative candidate to qualify for the 2020 ballot by petition on December 10, 2019. To qualify, the Mangold campaign and a team of more than 60 volunteers collected a total of 1,188 signatures, a testament to the power of grassroots outreach. While candidates can also qualify by paying a fee, the Mangold Campaign made personally connecting with voters a top priority. “Our campaign is focused on delivering leadership that works for the people of Florida.”