State attorney candidate meets with officials after accusations surface

A man running to be a top prosecutor in SWFL just met with investigators over serious allegations.

Current State Attorney Steven Russell received an anonymous complaint saying candidate Chris Crowley violated state lottery laws.

The physical evidence and Crowley’s words are now under a microscope.

Joanne Burger, who organized the rally in question for Crowley, says the entire incident has been blown out of proportion.

“We have nothing to hide, we are an open book,” Burger said.

The issue came about with the activities she decided to include at the event, a 50/50 raffle that ended up raising $670 for Crowley’s campaign.

“Should we have known the rules? Eh probably. Should Chris have known the rules? Yes,” Burger said.

According to election officials, a candidate can’t accept any funds raised in a game of chance.

“I insisted they meet with me. I went in to explain that we had a raffle,” Crowley said after meeting with those officials.

Crowley says he sat down with Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers Wednesday and admitted he did take the full $670 to his office, but says he didn’t know it was against the law.

“I wasn’t sure, that’s why I didn’t deposit it into my campaign account,” Crowley said.

Crowley added that he asked the state elections office before making any additional moves. And he says he gave the money back.

“He indeed called me the next morning and said I cannot take this money because holding raffles or games of chance is not acceptable, it’s against the rules,” Burger said.

But Burger adds that calling the incident a crime is just wrong.

“It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s $670. I know rules are rules but nobody broke them with intent, nobody harmed anybody,” Burger said. “I want to rectify this situation. I want to close the door on it.”

Burger says she plans on giving that raffle money to three local charities. FDLE says they are still reviewing the request for an investigation, and will use Crowley’s statements in their consideration.

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