In March SFGN exposed serious flaws in Equality Florida’s political endorsement process. One of those flaws included their reliance on using surveys and questionnaires to make their decisions.
Now the organization is under fire again.
Equality Florida endorsed Sarasota Commissioner Shelli Eddie, but now the commissioner has come forward admitting she lied on the questionnaire to get the LGBT rights group’s endorsement.
"Because of my faith, I should not have completed the survey responses the way I did, and I should not have accepted your endorsement,” an email from Eddie to Equality Florida read.
Eddie was elected in May, defeating incumbent Stan Zimmerman. Zimmerman told SRQ Magazine he did not fill out the questionnaire. Last week the registered Republican came out in favor of same-sex marriage.
While Eddie, a registered Democrat came out against same-sex marriage in her email to Equality Florida.
"I want to make my personal beliefs clear so as to not mislead your organization on my positions and more importantly to publicly repent for giving survey responses which are in direct conflict with my religious beliefs,” the email continued.
Ken Shelin, Equality Florida co-chair and a former Sarasota City Commissioner was shocked by the commissioner’s admissions telling SRQ: “Shelli not only deceived the Equality Florida PAC with her answers on its candidate questionnaire. She deceived her campaign donors and she deceived the voters.”
But others see this as a failure on the way Equality Florida handles its endorsements.
“This is exactly why the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance conducts personal interviews with candidates before we endorse them,” said Rand Hoch, president of PBCHRC. While the executive director of SAVE, Tony Lima, also chimed in on Facebook saying “SAVE also conducts personal interviews with a panel of community members. Very important!”
Hoch said none of his group’s endorsements have ever recanted.
“It’s an entirely different system when you sit down face to face,” he told SFGN. “You can explain your positions more so than just checking something off. And you can ask follow up questions.”