Last month, we reported on this mass e-mail from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. It was dated April 16th and gave every indication that it was sent by the city: it used a city return e-mail address, provided a city mailing address, and used the blue city logo. It was signed “Mayor Jane Castor” and said “we’re launching One Tampa,” which is a city program.
Our article was about how Mayor Castor’s political campaign material somehow had made it in to a city e-mail. However, we began to wonder if we weren’t barking up the wrong tree when we noticed that the layout of the April 16th e-mail was different from all other City of Tampa e-mails.
The Guardian has now been able to confirm that in fact the e-mail was not sent by the city. It was most likely sent by Mayor Castor’s PAC (Political Action Committee) called Tampa Strong. We say that the e-mail was likely sent by Castor’s PAC because neither the mayor nor key city staff will answer questions about it.
The counterfeit status of the e-mail wasn’t announced through a city press conference or a city press release in which the e-mail counterfeiters were called out and threatened with legal action. No, we discovered its counerfeit nature the way reporters usually discover that a politician has committed a misdeed: through a public records request.
In response to a public records request to the city for a list of recipients of the e-mail, Assistant City Attorney Marcella Hamilton wrote that “the City of Tampa is not the custodian of the recipient list requested.”
In other words, Castor’s April 16th e-mail was not a communication from the city. You know…the e-mail that contained the city logo, spoke about a city program, used a city e-mail address and that was signed “Mayor Jane Castor.”
Yeah – that e-mail.
We asked Hamilton if the City of Tampa has been able to determine which entity sent the e-mail and whether the city will take legal action (e.g. a cease and desist letter) against the entity that sent the counterfeit e-mail. Despite multiple contacts, Hamilton did not answer those questions.
We also asked the city’s Director of Marketing & Communications Director Ashley Bauman via e-mail to directly ask Mayor Castor: did she authorize that the e-mail be sent? If yes, which organization sent the e-mail?
We called and asked Bauman when she could provide us answers. Bauman replied “I don’t know. We are in a council meeting. Thank you.” Bauman then hung up. The city council meeting she spoke of was a virtual meeting.
We wrote to Bauman after the meeting ended before noon and said she could have to the end of the day to respond. We received no response. Bauman also did not respond to any of our questions for our first article on Castor’s e-mail that mixed her political activities with city business.
Bauman’s former boss Mayor Bob Buckhorn described her as “fiercely loyal.” The question is: “fiercely loyal” to whom? The taxpayers and the rule of law? Or to her politician boss Jane Castor whose political action committee sends counterfeit city e-mails in order to politically promote Castor.
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.