The complaint says Costello was running for office before officially filing, but Costello says he made it clear he would only run if Ron DeSantis didn't.
Just two days after filing to run as a Republican candidate for U.S. House District 6, Fred Costello was hit with a Federal Election Commission complaint claiming that he had violated the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971, citing articles appearing in August 2017 in the Ormond Beach Observer and the Daytona Beach News-Journal as proof of unlawful campaigning. Costello says the allegations are "bogus."
The complaint, filed by Orange City resident Thomas Homan on Dec. 29, 2017, states that Costello, "a two-time failed candidate for Florida's sixth U.S. Congressional District," told newspapers of his intent to run and also asked for votes before disclosing that information to the FEC.
Costello, a former mayor of Ormond Beach, told the Observer in August he would only run if incumbent Congressman Ron DeSantis decided to run for governor. DeSantis officially filed for the gubernatorial race on Jan. 3, three days before Costello's campaign kickoff and exactly one week after Costello electronically filed for candidacy on Dec. 27, 2017.
The complaint alleges that Costello was campaigning in a Nov. 19 event at the Flagler Trump Club and at a Dec. 12 event by the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee. In response, Costello said potential candidates are allowed to investigate, plan and determine whether or they want to run before filing. This includes, he said, spending up to or receiving contributions totaling to $5,000 as long as they file within 15 days of going over that amount, which Costello said he abided by.
Homan's complaint said Costello did more than merely "test the waters"; he referred to himself as a candidate.
The complaint also accuses Costello of failing to include a disclaimer on emails that were sent prior to his official filing for candidacy.
“That complaint is also bogus," Costello said.
He said his official campaign emails have a disclaimer; his personal email also had one. The good news, Costello said, is that the disclaimer is only needed if an email is sent to more than 500 people.
"So, the e-blast that was sent out by our firm that we contract with, they had the disclaimer," Costello said. "On emails that I sent out personally, they had little boxes at the bottom, which is where the banner that had the disclaimer was and is in my signature on my computer but didn't always show up on the email that went out and was received by people, but we have since found out that we didn't even need to have that as long as we didn't send it out to 500."
As for Homan, Costello said in an email that he hadn't heard of him prior to the complaint.
“It shows how empty some of the campaigns are when they have to spend their time trying to manufacture complaints that aren’t even valid instead of trying to win votes," Costello said.
“It shows how empty some of the campaigns are when they have to spend their time trying to manufacture complaints that aren’t even valid instead of trying to win votes."