Florida Democratic Party Sends Misleading & Potentially Illegal Mailers in Orlando Mayoral Race

    After Democrats and allies at the Orlando Sentinel decried partisan campaigning, the Florida Democratic Party sends out two potentially illegal direct mail pieces.


    By Jacob Engels


    Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is on the ropes and statewide Democratic leaders know it. As far as “the bench” goes in Florida Democratic politics, John “Buddy” Dyer is one of their longest standing elected leaders.


    Losing Dyer as Mayor of Orlando, Florida’s third largest metropolis, would significantly set back the gains Democrats have made in the I4 corridor and could have huge ramifications on the decidely ‘purple’ state in the Presidential sweepstakes.


    Since longtime Orlando resident Paul Paulson, who served in the army during President Reagan’s term, in which the Cold War dominated geo-politics, entered the race, Democrats have been in all out damage control locally.


    Now, it seems that same pandemonium has spread to state party leaders in the capitol. Several weeks ago, they sent out an absentee ballot request form to local voters, designed with a painstakingly complicated layout. However, the sub-par graphic design work was not the ultimate problem. See the mailer below.


    Buddy Dyer/Florida Democrat Absentee Mailer by Jacob Engels


    The mailout featured photos of Orlando Mayor John “Buddy” Dyer wearing an official City of Orlando polo (paid for by taxpayers) and surrounded by a youth soccer team that some sources suggest is in part funded by city programs. Both these instances, if true, are complete violations of city policy and elections law. Elected officials are not allowed to use ANYTHING paid for by taxpayers for political purposes.


    Furthermore, the fact that this election is a non-partisan race is another issue. It means that Mayor Dyer has not only potentially used city resources for campaign purposes, but has enlisted the state Democratic party as well. Now, if the Mayor’s campaign has documents proving that the individuals portrayed in the mailer were actually actors who were compensated or donated their time, that is a completely different story. The same goes for the City of Orlando polo, if Dyer can prove he paid for the shirt out of his own funds, there is no story.


    In the second mailer, sent out after the Orlando Pride celebration in Downtown Orlando this past Saturday, we see another bevy of problems for the Florida Democratic Party and the Buddy Dyer campaign – this time to a much more serious degree. View the back side of the mailer below.


    Dishonest Buddy Dyer/Florida Democrat Mailer (SIDE 2) by Jacob Engels


    This mailer features what appear to be two Orlando Police Department officers, possibly from the bike squad or mounted patrol. If so, that is again… completely illegal. Were these paid actors portraying police officers, or on-duty law enforcement officers busy at a photo-shoot with the Mayor’s re-election campaign… instead of keeping the city safe? Again, simple proof of invoices and agreements made through the campaign or Florida Democratic Party would easily rule out illegal activity and wrongdoing.


    The partisan direct mail piece also featured an attack on Dyer’s main opponent, Paul Paulson, who has loaned his campaign $610,000 to take on the entrenched career politician who is bankrolled by half a million in special interests funding, much of which is from corporations and individuals doing business with the city.


    The Democrat mailer claims that Paulson is a “Tea Party Republican” and that he supports positions that demean Hispanics. The Florida Democratic Party mailer also states that Paulson is opposed to same-sex marriage. Each of these claims fall flat on their face.


    We have not been able to find concrete evidence that Mr. Paulson, a relative newcomer to the political scene, has any history or involvement with the Tea Party. And if he did, so what. That does not mean he embraces the radical elements within the movement, just like I assume Dyer doesn’t embrace domestic terrorism of left-wing elements of the Democratic and liberal movement.


    On the charge of being against same-sex marriage, the Florida Democratic Party and Buddy Dyer’s re-election campaign miss the mark yet again. Paulson has been endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, a group started in the 1970’s that fights for inclusion of Gay & Lesbian leaders within the GOP.


    Paulson ad featured in Watermark Magazine, Florida’s largest gay publication.


    This endorsement was featured in the states largest gay publication, Watermark, now lead by the highly competent Billy Manes. In that advertisement, Paulson was quoted as believing that everyone has a right to live, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – arguing that “love is love” and that the government does not belong in the bedroom.


    This means that the Florida Democratic Party and the Buddy Dyer re-election campaign abandoned the facts yet again.


    Knowing that the state party and Mayor’s campaign are well aware of the potential for the already mentioned illegal activity occurring on these mailers, I reached out to both the Florida Democratic Party and Mayor Dyer’s campaign.


    Max Steele, the FDP communications director, who I have always found to be one of the best operatives that Florida Democrats have, told me that he would “get back to me” when confronted with factual inaccuracies and potential illegal activity on the mailers. Mayor Dyer’s campaign office line, which is made available on his website, rang continuously, and I’m told the campaign has been severely understaffed and is relying heavily on a very unpredictable volunteer pool of less than 5 people.


    While I don’t expect to hear back from the Florida Democratic Party of Mayor Dyer’s campaign soon, if ever, I think it is important that Orlando residents know how fast and loose they are playing. Hey Max – give me a call at 231-360-1411 if you have any answers to the questions i provided…



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@eastorlandopost.com