Is Pam Keith actually running for Congress? The South Florida Democrat made headlines weeks ago when she declared she would officially be running against Republican rising star Brian Mast for Florida’s 18th Congressional district. Local news sites reported she was officially “in” the race, ready to give Mast a run for his money.
The only problem: Pam Keith didn’t actually file to run for the seat until this weekend, despite telling media outlets and the voters of CD18 she had done so in the middle of June.
On Sunday, Keith formally filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission after Sunshine State News questioned her on the matter over the weekend.
Now Keith really is officially a candidate for CD18, a district she recently returned to after a stay in Miami -- but other aspects of her candidacy are yet to add up.
Despite her recent filing status, Keith hasn’t wasted any time gathering contributions for her congressional campaign, sending out emails emblazoned with an official logo for a campaign that didn’t exist officially until this weekend.
Last week she sent distributed an email to supporters of her run for Congress, asking them to chip in a few bucks so she could make her mark well before 2018.
“I just met with my campaign team and they told me that we only need 73 new founding members of our campaign to hit our goal before midnight,” she wrote in an email sent Friday. “Hitting this goal would send a message to our opponents and the media that we have what it takes to win this thing.”
Most every candidate uses contributions for a variety of reasons, for instance, polling and travel to muster support for a run for office. Except, at the time the email went out, Keith still hadn’t officially filed, though she listed the return address as a “Pam Keith for Congress” office in North Palm Beach.
When asked why she hadn’t filed for the seat ahead of her notices, Keith assured SSN it was only a matter of time before she would actually jump in the race.
“It will be done in the due course of time,” she hinted when speaking with SSN on Saturday.
Keith repeatedly said she was operating her campaign within the “confines of the law,” working with a highly-qualified compliance team in both Washington, D.C. and Florida to make sure she was “dotting her i’s and crossing her t’s.”
Other aspects of Keith’s congressional campaign are murky as well.
In May, Keith announced she had formed an “exploratory committee” pondering a run against Mast. Candidates often use exploratory committees to help determine whether they should actually run for office, raising money to test the waters of the viability of their political futures.
“I have announced an exploratory committee to run against Mast, and if the support is there, I will. So far, the response has been over-the-moon positive,” Keith told the Palm Beach Post at the time.
Exploratory committees allow candidates to raise money without full disclosure of where it comes from.
Keith’s exploratory committee redirects to a fundraising page on her website, but that’s as far as it goes -- there is no record of the committee whatsoever on the Federal Elections Commission website, nor was there any record of Keith’s candidacy before Saturday.
Now that Keith has officially filed as a candidate, all fundraising records and contributions must be publicized with the FEC.
When asked whether she thought raising money without an official declaration on the books was problematic, Keith shrugged.
“I don’t see the problem with that,” she told SSN.
Other possible contenders were confused by Keith’s filing timeline.
“It did seem odd to me,” said Corinna Robinson, another Democrat who has also launched an exploratory committee to run in CD18. “To me, officially running is more than just announcing it. It’s turning in the paperwork with the FEC and registering. I would definitely follow protocol, otherwise you open yourself up to scrutiny.”