In 2018 while running for Brevard County Commission, Commission Chair Bryan Lober spent $158,182.74 to get elected. In contrast, his opponent in the general election spent a total of $26,427. The problem is that $133,794.90 of his contributions were all illegal. In fact, Lober’s legal contributions to his campaign totaled $25,926; less than that of his opponent. In essence, it took Lober to spend 5 times more than his opponent illegally in order to “buy his seat” as the District 2 County Commissioner.
These figures stood out to open critic of Lober, Robert Burns. Upon examination of Lober’s own Form 6 financial disclosure form, there didn’t seem to be anything to indicate that Lober had the cash on hand to “self fund” as he claimed.
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In an interview to Florida Today after filing for candidacy, Lober made the following comments.
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By Lober’s own disclosure in income for that year, his law firm that year brought in just $7,012.48. In fact, his largest source of income listed by him was money from his dad totaling $20,000 for a total income of just $43,792.23. Subtracting the $20,000 his dad gave him, his total income comes out to $11.86/hr.
He also claimed to have $21,008 across 4 checking accounts. The next Form 6 he filed after being elected, he only listed 2 checking accounts with a total balance of $10,159.
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His total claimed net worth went from about $987,000 before the election to $846,000 after the election. Yet he claims to have spent (self financed) $158,000 on his election according to his own reports. He also acquired a new liability of $117k from Central East Florida Investment Trust, which increased itself in 2019 to about $125,000.
For his 2019 Form 6, he’s down to now 1 checking account with only $2,444 and claiming a total net worth of about $854,000.
In all of his claims for his net worth, he includes a home which he does not own valued at $720,000. The home is actually owned by an LLC named Winks Holdings, which is jointly managed by him and his father according to state records.
So nowhere before the election did Lober show he had the cash on hand to finance over $150,000 for an election. Also nowhere under his liabilities does it appear he ever lists anywhere near $130,000 in credit card debt nor is there a reduction in his net worth to show the payment of such a debt. He also said initially he planned to only spend between $20-50,000. So Burns asks, who paid it?
Lober used credit cards 46 times during his campaign. According to state law, it is illegal for a candidate to use a credit card for their campaign unless they are running for a statewide office like Governor. Burns understood this and promptly filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission. Every single occurrence is a separate violation, each one subject to a $500 fine. Below is the complaint filed by Burns.
In a Facebook post, Lober claimed to use his credit card so that he may profit from his campaign and earn credit card points.
Burns says his main concern wasn’t that Lober broke the law simply by using credit cards to finance his campaign. Burns’ concern is who paid the credit card bills? By law, donors are limited to donating no more that $1,000 to candidates running for county commissioner. It is Burns’ belief that Lober found a way to get around these legal limits by using a credit card to pay for the campaign, and in turn having someone else pay the credit card bill; if he even used his own card to begin with.
Again, none of Lober’s own financial disclosures show that he ever acquired the debt nor paid it.
Lober hired an attorney to respond to the complaint and admitted to the allegations. However, his reasoning is what raises more eyebrows. Lober, who is an attorney stated as his defense that the reason he used credit cards is because he didn’t properly understand the law.
Below is what Lober claimed he did not understand. Also, none of his charges were travel related.
Even more troubling, he was able to make a deal with the state and simply pay a $150 fine total for those violations, and the others Burns outlined in his complaint.
So essentially, Lober was able to buy his seat on the commission by breaking the law, claiming ignorance, and only paying $150 as a punishment. That begs the question had Lober not broken the law, would he have won the election against his opponent, who in reality raised more cash than he did, and did it legally?
However, additional information has just been discovered showing thousands of dollars in undisclosed in-kind contributions from others to Lober during the campaign. Burns states he is filing a separate complaint over these allegations.
*article was updated to reflect correct net worth figures.