Florida Dem Explains Missed Tax Payments

An employee mistake led to the Florida Democratic Party not paying some of its Social Security and payroll taxes in 2003, a former chairman said Wednesday in the wake of the party being slapped with a lien by the Internal Revenue Service.

Former party chief Scott Maddox (search), who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, said a party comptroller filed the payments electronically, but they apparently were not received. The employee resigned Wednesday.

"She made a mistake and did not tell her supervisor," Maddox said.

While the party owes roughly $200,000 in delinquent payroll and Social Security taxes, the lien was placed Friday against the remaining $98,000 in its accounts, Leon County committeeman Jon Ausman said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a former prosecutor was hired by the party Wednesday to investigate its failure to make the tax payments and to help resolve a $900,000 discrepancy on the party's balance sheet.

The state party's budget and finance committee voted Tuesday to ask for a new audit to account for the money it believes somehow disappeared from the books during 2003-2004, while Maddox was chairman.

Maddox said a new audit will show that "not a dime" is missing. "I was a good steward of the party's funds," he said.

Current Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman (search) disagreed.

"I can tell you that according to the audit that was done, the internal controls in this office were absolutely, unequivocally the worst," she said.

Maddox's two primary opponents, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith, did not comment on how the investigation might affect the governor's race.