Every ROC has at least one "gadfly"–that owner who has decided, for whatever reason, to devote every waking minute to creating as much misery as possible for the manager, the board, and the other members of the community. We consider a community lucky if it’s home to only one of these cantankerous creatures.
What happens when that "gadfly" decides to run for the community association’s board of directors?
Let’s assume that this"gadfly" is a unit owner in a condominium or cooperative association. He (or she) meets all of the statutory qualifications (and there are more conditions for candidates for the board in condominiums than there are in cooperatives) and gives the association written notice of the intention to be a candidate at least 40 days before the election.
Our "gadfly" then begins campaigning by going door to door, handing out flyers, making phone calls and sending all kinds of political advertisements to other unit owners by mail and email.
In addition, the "candidate information sheet" that the "gadfly" submits to the association not less than 35 days before the election doesn’t contain any information about the "gadfly’s" background, education, and qualifications. Instead, the "gadfly" has filled the entire 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch sheet with factually incorrect statements about the current board members, false accusations against the community’s manager, and campaign promises that the "gadfly" clearly will not be able to keep even if he or she is elected.
Can the association prevent the "gadfly" from campaigning?
- There are no provisions in the Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Code sections governing the election process in condominium or cooperative associations that prevent a candidate from campaigning. Assuming that the gadfly has not improperly obtained the email addresses and phone numbers of the other unit owners, the association is well advised to simply allow the gadfly to campaign.
Can the association edit the "gadfly’s" candidate information sheet or tell the "gadfly" that the information sheet won’t be included in the election materials unless the "gadfly" submits a revised sheet that contains only the "gadfly’s" background, education, and qualifications?
- The Florida Administrative Code Sections governing these information sheets in both condominium and cooperative association elections are clear that these sheets may describe the candidate’s background, education, and qualifications as well as other factors deemed relevant by the candidate.
- In addition, Florida’s statutes provide that condominium associations and cooperative associations are not liable for the contents of the information sheets provided by the candidates.
- Finally, the Election Brochures developed by Florida’s Division of Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes for both condominium and cooperative associations caution that "an association may not edit, alter, or otherwise modify the content of the information sheet".
In other words, ROC managers and board members have to assume that the "gadfly’s" fellow unit owners will approach the election of the association’s board members in an intelligent and responsible fashion–regardless of the outcome of that election.
We’ve got several seminars and presentations scheduled for late November and the month of December and I’ll post that information in my next entry.