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Ethics Commission Finds Insufficient Evidence in Ethics Complaint Against Van Ostenbridge


BRADENTON — The Florida Commission on Ethics has concluded its investigation into Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostebridge over a citizen-launched complaint that he violated ethics rules when he used a county credit card to purchase highly detailed voter data in his district.

The expenditure was flagged in an audit conducted by the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court's Inspector General's office.

"One (1) purchase for $1,609 was made by Commissioner Van Ostenbridge from McShane LLC, a Nevada-based political consulting firm, for the purchase of District 3 registered voter data. According to the commissioner and his aide, the purchase was to obtain a district-wide (District 3) resident email list for distribution of the commissioner's non-political, informational email newsletter. However, in addition to including email addresses for more than 19,000 registered voters, the data purchased also contained more than 200 fields of personal and voter demographic information of the individuals," the report detailed.

Van Ostenbridge initially defended the purchase. However, the commissioner did an about-face and reimbursed the county for the data purchase the day after the story broke in The Bradenton Times. The ethics investigation found insufficient evidence that the commissioner had displayed "wrongful intent" in purchasing the data. This threshold is required for finding probable cause in violating Article II, Section 8(h)(2) of the Florida Constitution which deals with the misuse of a public position.

Click here to read the investigation report. Click here to read the advocate's recommendation.


Public Records Provide More Insight into the Purchase of District 3 Voter Data

Commissioner's Irresponsibility Caused Unacceptable Data Breach


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  • Dianna

    The voter information purchased with public funds did not serve the public in any manner. If Commissioner Van Ostenbridge actually wanted to interact with District 3 residents he could simply respond to e-mails, answer his phone, attentively listen to in person public comment without belittling the public, or hold town halls on topics that residents of District 3 have requested. Instead with our tax dollars he creates a newsletter that looks a lot like a campaign flier.

    Friday, February 2 Report this

  • rayfusco68

    Great example of the fox guarding the hen house. Did anyone think that there would be any other conclusion from this "investigating" Committee? Very simple, he bought information for his private use with public funds. Then he realized he did something wrong and tried to cover his tacks, when caught misusing public funds for private use.

    Sunday, February 4 Report this

  • Debann


    Sunday, February 4 Report this

  • ruthlawler

    Van Ostenbridge does NOT want dialogue with District 3 residents. He has repeatedly been asked by residents to hold an OPEN town hall meeting in District 3 that is well publicized. His flimsy claim that the 59th St., the 75th St and the Tunnel to Towers informational presentations were Town Hall meetings is ludicrous. He loves to disparage and insult citizens from the dais, yet is petrified to be in a room with residents asking direct questions and desiring explanations. He is a pathetic excuse of an elected representative for the citizens he is OBLIGATED to represent, yet the strings he dances to of his handlers are evident. Kevin: schedule a well publicized TOWN HALL meeting, show up and answer questions! Ruth Lawler

    Sunday, February 4 Report this

  • WTF

    KVO never had a moral compass.

    Over 200K in developer contributions and is beholden to them From the public in his district, next to nothing

    Kisses the rings of the developers and the Citizens in his district and the County get the shaft on his county wide votes it takes to get massive developers approvals passed.

    One & Done

    Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.

    George Bernard Shaw

    Monday, February 5 Report this

  • David Daniels

    Despite the recent Florida Ethics commission investigation, Manatee County social media posts show Manatee County Commissioner Kevin VanOstenbridge continues to use public funds for personal benefit. VanOstenbridge is using county resources to produce videos and “newsletters” in which he is taking credit for: the Cortez FISH preserve, Duette Park expansion, Crooked River Ranch purchase, Palma Sola and GT Bray park improvements. These thinly veiled campaign ads are laughable knowing that VanOstenbridge publicly opposed the two programs that paid for these improvements - The Federal Infrastructure Law and Manatee’s Land Conservation referendum. Does anyone believe it's a coincidence that these misleading social media posts are appearing right after the county blocked public comment?

    Tuesday, February 6 Report this