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Candidate for Commissioner Removed from Fundraising Campaign, Will Not Face Criminal Investigation

BROOKSVILLE – A candidate for Hernando County Commissioner has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Hernando County Education Foundation (HCEF), after allegations she used her personal bank account to collect donations for the nonprofit.

Earlier this month R News reported Pam Everette was under investigation by the HCEF after it was revealed that instead of using the organization's direct donation link, she solicited her followers to donate directly to her personal Cash App and PayPal accounts. Raising even more concerns was the fact that she posted the request on her personal Facebook page on the same day that she filed to run for County Commissioner.

CEO of HCEF Tammy Brinker initiated an investigation into the incident and later determined that they would not be turning the information over to the Sheriff's Office for a criminal investigation, but she did remove her from the fundraising campaign. In response to our inquiry Brinker writes, "While recognizing that this incident may have arisen from oversight on Ms. Everett's part, it is imperative for us to uphold the integrity of our fundraising endeavors and ensure adherence to established protocols. Consequently, Ms. Everett will not be participating as a Team Captain for the 2024 HCEF Annual Campaign. We deeply appreciate Ms. Everett's dedication and contributions to HCEF and its initiatives."

Everette could not be reached for comment.

ORIGINAL REPORT: MAY 12, 2024

BROOKSVILLE – A candidate for Hernando County Commissioner is under investigation for using her personal bank account to collect funds for a local nonprofit.

Yesterday, a source who wished to remain anonymous provided a screenshot of a March 14, 2024, Facebook post showing County Commissioner candidate Pam Everett soliciting funds for the Hernando County Education Foundation (HCEF).

The post reads: Need to build a team for the Hernando County Education Foundation. The team will help raise $3,000. Anyone [that] is excited to help our students in the community, please reach out to me. If you would like to make a donation you can[,]

Cash app: $pameverett12

PayPal: @pameverett1

That same source contacted the HCEF to advise them of their concerns, which prompted a response from HCEF Chief Executive Officer Tammy Brinker.

In an email, Brinker writes:

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns regarding donations to the BEST Academy Garden Club. We take matters of transparency and accountability very seriously, and I appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention.

Regarding the inquiry about Pam Everett, I want to assure you that the Hernando County Education Foundation (HCEF) does not condone or support individuals soliciting donations directly into personal bank accounts on behalf of any of our affiliated projects or clubs. Such actions would indeed be contrary to our ethical standards and protocols.

To address your concerns effectively, we will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter involving Ms. Everett and any potential misappropriation of donations. Pam is a Team Captain for our Annual Campaign and may not understand that she has a direct link to our donation page that is for the very purpose of the Annual Campaign and goes directly to the foundations appropriate account. Our priority is to ensure that all contributions intended for any program and/or project to include the BEST Academy Garden Club are appropriately directed towards its designated projects and initiatives.

Please rest assured that we are committed to upholding the integrity of our foundation and the trust of our donors. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

According to documents filed with the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections, Everette launched her campaign on the same date as the Facebook post soliciting donations for HCEF. There have been no direct allegations that a theft occurred, but some find it suspicious that she attempted to collect donations on the same day she filed for public office.

According to the HCEF website, Everett has not deposited funds into the HCEF account, however, on March 18, 2024, Everett made a personal deposit of $500 into her campaign.

At this time, it is unknown if a crime has occurred or if a criminal investigation is underway by the Sheriff's Office.

R News reached out to Pam Everett and Tammy Brinker for comment, but we have yet to receive a response from either.

Everett is running as a Republican for the District 5 seat against incumbent Steve Champion. Everett ran for the District 5 School Board seat in 2022 but lost the race against incumbent Susan Duval.

On Thursday, R News reported that a prob was launched into a Hernando High School paraprofessional who used her personal bank accounts to collect money for school activities. That investigation is still pending by the Hernando County School District.

R News will continue to follow both investigations.

 

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