The Supreme Court has accepted the recommendation from the Judicial Qualifications Commission for a reprimand and $25,000 fine for a county court judge who violated state law and judicial canons on campaigning and fundraising.
In a stipulation with the JQC, Seminole County Judge Debra L. Krause agreed that she improperly paid $250 to reserve a table and to speak at an event that was a fundraiser for the Seminole County Republican Party, which violated judicial canons and state laws prohibiting judicial candidates from being involved in partisan events.
She also failed to include the word “for” between her name and the word “judge” in some campaign literature and misreported $82,000 in loans to her campaign, which she said were her funds, but were really from accounts in her husband’s name. State law prohibits family members from making contributions in excess of $500.
Krause, who fully cooperated with the JQC investigation, said the violations were inadvertent or mistakes, including that she believed the loans to her campaign were marital assets, even though they were in accounts controlled by her husband.
Justice James Perry was recused from the per curiam opinion, while Justice Fred Lewis dissented. Lewis cited his earlier dissents in similar cases where he said violations of judicial canons serious enough to result in a large fine should cause removal from office.