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Local Lawmaker Used Campaign Funds to Pay Companion, State Records Show

Florida Division of Elections campaign finance records show that after Peter Nehr lost the Nov. 6, 2012 election to democrat Carl Zimmermann, he made three payments totaling $21,856.03 to his female companion, Kim Marie, for "consulting" servi

Former State Rep. Peter Nehr paid $20,000 to a female companion four days after he lost his 2012 re-election bid, according to state records.

Records from the Florida Division of Elections campaign finance database show that after Nehr lost the Nov. 6, 2012 election to democrat Carl Zimmermann, he made three payments totaling $21,856.03 to his female companion, Kim Marie, for "consulting" services.

Marie also received $1,000 from Nehr for "consulting" services in August of the same year.

State records show payments to Marie were made on the following dates:

  • 8/21/2012- $1,000 for "consulting"
  • 11/10/2012- $20,000 for "consulting and editing"
  • 11/15/2012- $1,703.03 for "consulting and fundraising"
  • 12/30/2012- $153.80 for "final payment consulting" 

State law says that candidates may disperse leftover election funds by returning them to each contributor, donating them to a charitable organization, giving up to $10,000 of the money to the candidate's political party, or deposit the money to the state's general revenue fund.

Marie is a licensed acupuncturist who was often by Nehr's side at campaign events (see photos) and also appeared in a photograph with Nehr and Florida Gov. Rick Scott during the signing of the "Blue Alert" bill that Nehr sponsored (see photos). The Tampa Bay Times reports that Marie is Nehr's live-in girlfriend, at a townhouse in Palm Harbor.

Nehr, a Republican, recently announced his candidacy for Pinellas County Commissioner District 4 in the 2014 election. The seat is currently held by longtime commissioner Susan Latvala, a Republican who also lives in Palm Harbor.

Nehr is no stranger to controversy. He made headlines during his 2012 re-election bid when shirtless photos of the lawmaker showed up in political fliers. Nehr told Patch he had sent the photos to friends to show them his recent weight loss.

Nehr also made headlines when he owned an Internet sweepstakes cafe in Palm Harbor that became the target of an illegal gambling probe by Jim Coats, who was Pinellas County Sheriff at the time. Nehr wound up selling the business, which was later closed by the sheriff's office.

Editor's Note: Former State Rep. Peter Nehr responded to Patch's request for comment in the letter below. Nehr said he sent The Tampa Bay Times the same comment. His letter includes responses to questions asked by the Times, that were not asked by Patch. The entire text of Nehr's comment is below:

In the interest of not being misquoted or having my comments shortened or taken out of context, I am responding in writing to your questions. 

First,  if you will look at the many other campaigns who had elections in November of 2012 you will see that many of them have paid their consultants after the election and also paid many other miscellaneous campaign related expenses; also after the election. These campaigns have also have paid for staff and campaign help and removal of signs. Phones, etc.  All legitimate expenses of a campaign and after the election. 

The fact that I know Ms. Marie on a personal level, and used her as one of my consultants, does not dismiss the fact that she worked very hard on my campaign and is legally entitled to be paid for her work. She was instrumental in raising my campaign many thousands of dollars due to her contacts in her field.  She raised over $10,000. from Acupuncturists plus thousands more from other personal friends. She did almost all of my editing, much of the text of my campaign materials, drafted many of my campaign speeches, did a tremendous amount of computer work involved in targeting the voters in my district and many other important details that need to be taken care of in any Legislative race. She agreed to be paid after the election even though her work was performed before the election.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, many campaigns paid their consultants after the election. 

As to her experience; even though she is an Acupuncturist, she has also been involved in the political process for years.  I am glad that you remember Ms. Marie while she was in Tallahassee.  She had been advocating in Tallahassee on behalf of her profession in front of both House and Senate Committees during session in regards to PIP legislation and other issues, and she was registered as a lobbyist in Tallahassee.  She met with dozens of Senators and Legislators and was instrumental in an Acupuncture Day where she personally demonstrated Acupuncture technique to many Legislators. She met many Lobbyists while in Tallahassee and her contact with them helped my campaign receive many contributions while she was my consultant.  She was also involved in my previous Legislative campaign in 2010 and played a big part in that victory, even though she was an unpaid consultant during that time.  

She was until recently negotiating with various clients as a Consultant to represent them in Tallahassee this year before deciding that she did not want to be in Tallahassee for the upcoming session. Ms. Marie was paid her consulting fee by my campaign not because of our personal relationship, but because she has the expertise, knowledge, contributor contacts and proven previous political experience to help the campaign.

Your insinuation that she is only an Acupuncturist and had no experience in politics was misleading. 

As to your question about her pending case regarding the credit union. If you must know, that case is due to a credit card  that her former husband had agreed to pay and take responsibility for in their final divorce agreement. As he is not currently paying the bill, the credit union is now coming after her former husband and Ms. Marie as they both signed the note.

Her consulting fee was not to help her for this financial situation, but for the work she did on my campaign as previously explained in the above paragraph.

Kim Marie is her correct name but it seems the person I had imputing the information regarding her address on the final State report made an error. As the candidate I take full responsibility for that mistake as I should have double checked everything including the addresses.  I  will file an amended report with the state correcting that error shortly.  If anyone was implying ( and I am sure you were not) that something was done on purpose to deceive anyone from knowing she was paid: they were incorrect.

No one was trying to hide the fact that Ms. Marie  was paid by the campaign. Hundreds of people in Pinellas County and many more in Tallahassee know both of us, as we have been good friends for years. All my political opponents and their consultants know her and a consulting payment to her could not be kept hidden, nor was there any attempt to do so.

As a public figure I am used to criticism and having my name in the paper, but I would appreciate you not embarrassing Ms. Marie in your story.  She is not a public official and hopefully you will respect her privacy.

Thank you for bringing up the mistake on the address. I will file an amended report as soon as possible. I am sure you will write your story in a fair and unbiased way."

Peter F. Nehr
Health Coach for Defeating Diabetes and Weight Loss 

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Tony Starez March 03, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Thanks for restoring my faith in greedy politicians that are hypocrites to the core...
Terry Hopkins March 03, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Wow this is news...a politician that paid his consulting person...I wonder how much others OWE to people and have not paid. No wait, that is not news...
-Ed Harris- March 03, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Has someone pressed charges against him? If not I guess I don't understand the story. Is anyone actually investigating him?
Tony Starez March 04, 2013 at 11:24 PM
well, the public shouldn't always just accept this from EITHER party...maybe there's no one interested enough, or willing to bring a case against him. maybe that's why he was so bold about writing the checks (basically to himself). He's laughing at this, I can feel it...

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