TAMPA, Fla. – Hillsborough County elections officials say Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor entered a polling place in violation of state law.
Her Republican opponent in Florida’s 14th Congressional District asserts she should be charged with a felony.
Fox 13 in Tampa reported on Friday that the Supervisor of Elections office admonished Castor, a Tampa Democrat, on Oct. 24 for entering the Jan Platt Library, which was being utilized for early voting.
According to Fox 13, Castor’s office claimed she was there to vote but left because she “realized she didn’t have what she needed.”
But that conflicts with what Castor herself told elections staff.
In their report, officials said Castor entered through a back door and told them specifically she was not there to vote. Instead, she claimed she was to do an interview about early voting.
A film crew had showed up, although it’s unclear where they were from, and they waited outside in the parking lot, Fox 13 noted.
An official informed Castor that “If you are not here to vote, candidates are not allowed in the polling place,” the elections report stated.
Under state law, candidates are not permitted to be within 150 feet of a voting site unless they are there to vote themselves.
Castor’s GOP opponent, James Judge, said in a press release issued Friday that Castor’s issued a statement saying she had “encouraged the press and voters to join her at the Jan Platt library to encourage voters to take advantage of the convenience of early voting.” That’s when she realized she “did not have what she needed at the time to vote.”
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Judge said if the elections staff’s allegations are true, Castor, who had been in Congress since 2005, committed a third-degree felony under Florida law.
“The lack of accountability and outright disrespect towards the public and the members of the media who tried to follow up on this story is astonishing,” Judge said in his statement.
“Castor’s team is trying to make this about me and her, but I’m not the one making the allegation. The reality is that this is between the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and Representative Castor.”
“Either the clerk lied, or Castor lied – someone is not telling the truth, and I have to believe that Castor is the one who is not telling the truth here, as the clerk had no incentive to be dishonest,” Judge added.
Judge also acknowledged that he is frustrated by the media, which appears to be covering for the Democrat.
“We literally have a sitting member of Congress, who is under felony criminal investigation, who is now trying to mislead the public about why she was at the polling station, and most of the Tampa Bay area media outlets have been silent about this, including the Tampa Bay Times, who endorsed this alleged felon,” said Judge.
“I hope that the media will see through her lies and dishonesty and begin to shed light on this important development as Election Day draws near,” Judge added.