Bookkeeper Takes Rap for Missed Tax Payments

A bookkeeper for the Florida Democratic Party took the blame Tuesday for the party's failure to pay its Social Security (search) and payroll taxes, and said she never informed her boss, gubernatorial candidate Scott Maddox (search).

In a letter to Maddox, Debbie Griffin-Bruton said the pressure from her job along with burden of caring for a husband with Alzheimer's disease (search) made it difficult for her to perform her duties.

"Due to my embarrassment over my mistakes I was reticent to let anyone know of my failures," she wrote. "I regret that at no time did I inform you of my mistakes."

The Internal Revenue Service slapped a lien on the party last week for about $200,000 owed in taxes from 2003. The party had only $98,000 in its bank account.

Maddox resigned as party chairman last month to run for governor. He hired Griffin-Bruton as the party's comptroller after being elected chairman in 2003.

"I must accept responsibility for having placed my faith in a person who clearly did not live up to my high expectations," Maddox said in a statement.

The party's financial problems have given Republicans a chance to criticize Maddox, who is hoping to succeed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

"Real leadership says, 'You know, it is my fault. It happened on my watch,'" said Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Andy Palmer. "But to keep casting about for a scapegoat doesn't demonstrate real leadership."

Also seeking the Democratic nomination are Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith. Republicans running include Attorney General Charlie Crist and Florida's chief financial officer, Tom Gallagher.

Bush cannot seek re-election because of term limits.