Lee County elections office spent $200K on radio ads

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lee County’s supervisor of elections is defending her office’s use of more than $200,000 for radio advertisements.

Radio ads accounted for $201,923 of Sharon Harrington’s $8.9 million budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

The radio spots were initially used to recruit poll workers but then were aimed at voter education.

Harrington, in a written statement, defended the spending, saying it was an effort to prevent the long ballots and even longer lines that made for major election day problems in 2012.

“We have been told for months and months by the Division of Elections and the Secretary of State to get the voters informed on all aspects involving this election cycle in an effort to make sure we did not have problems like those experienced in 2012,” she said. “It’s called voter education and we used radio, television, print media, and social media to get the message out there.”

Harrington was granted $185,000 from the county, after she requested additional funds in September. Her $8.9 million budget is 31 percent larger than the budget from the previous year.

Voters are taking notice of the large bill, which towers in comparison to spending in other counties. Collier County, for example, spent less than $8,000 on radio ads.

“Do we get to vote on that? Do we get to vote on how our money is spent for radio advertising?” Julia Kahn, who lives in Lee County, said.

Another Lee County resident, Hilda Lewin, said she expects elected officials to spend responsibly.

“If you have a budget use it wisely,” she said. “Just think, we as citizens can’t say ‘Oh, I ran out of money. Can I have some more money?’ Because we can’t do that.”

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