Gonzalez Accused of Unlawful Campaign Financing

Todays News


Editor's Note Updated with further comment from Julio Gonzalez 

A federal election complaint alleges Republican Julio Gonzalez is illegally financing his run for Congress with a loan from his father-in-law. But Gonzalez said the loan, listed on his financial disclosures, has nothing to do with the campaign.

Linda DeLozier Ivell, a Lakeland real estate agent and longtime conservative activist, sent a complaint to the Federal Election Commission highlighting a change in the financial disclosure noting Gonzalez’s financial liabilities as of June 1. On the form, Gonzalez lists a $317,033 loan from Dr. Winston Arabitg, his father-in-law. “Other than this apparent loan from Dr. Arabitg, Gonzalez does’t list any item on his financial disclosure that indicates he has access to large sums of cash,” she alleges. Yet, Gonzalez contributed a $150,000 loan to his campaign in the second quarter.

Gonzalez said the family loan relates to his private medical practice in Venice, not his campaign. As for assertions he’s using the money to run? “It’s not true,” Gonzalez says, “and that’s shameful.”

Gonzalez, now a state representative, is running for Congress in District 17. He’s in a Republican primary against state Sen. Greg Steube and Charlotte County activist Bill Akins. 

The accusation, Gonzalez says, “is yet another act of desperation on behalf of the Steube campaign and those who follow him.” Representatives of the Steube campaign declined to comment. 

Ivell, though, said she follows races statewide. “I watch a lot of campaigns,” she said. Her letter to the FEC looks at Gonzalez’s federal disclosure this tear and his state disclosures from 2017. “While I do know know the date that Gonzalez received this loan from Arabitg, I can report that he did not list the loan as a liability on his 2017 Form 6 Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interests,” she wrote.

Candidates may loan personal funds to their campaign, and there’s no cap on amount. But FEC rules say gifts or loans to candidate for the purpose of the campaign cannot be considered personal funds. Rather, such loans would be subject to the $2,700 limit on campaign donations by individuals.

“It seems clear that the $150,000 loan to the [Gonzalez] Campaign came from these Arabitg funds,” Ivell wrote.

Gonzalez says the loan from his father-in-law would not appear on the 2017 disclosure because that covers assets and liabilities from 2016. The loan came in 2017 and therefore only showed up on his disclosure this year.

Gonzalez also reported several loans from Regions Bank, he listed Regions liabilities on his disclosure last year as well. He also listed a Stonegate Bank loan on his previous disclosure that is not on his new forms. Gonzalez says the Regions loans were used to finance his campaign for Congress. He said the loan from his father-in-law predates his candidacy for Congress. He did not provide documentation of when he took the loan from Arabitg.

PIctured: State Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice.

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