Osceola Sheriff responds after school board member uses picture without permission

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A political advertisement and mailer in Osceola County is causing concern by the sheriff.

School board member Jay Wheeler is running for re-election and used a picture of him and the sheriff at an event to help his campaign, but deputies said Wheeler never got permission to use the photo.

WFTV’s political analyst said Wheeler’s opponent could file an ethics complaint and went as far as to describe the case as entrapment.

The outspoken Wheeler, who’s been a school board member for 12 years, touted himself as someone who keeps schools safe and used the picture with Sheriff Bob Hansell to spread that message.

“It’s not necessarily surprising, but it is disappointing,” said school board candidate Leah Carius.

Carius was perplexed when she saw the advertisements, knowing the sheriff never backed either candidate.

“They were campaign material, and it implies endorsement,” she said.

Hansell sent WFTV a statement that said, “I did not endorse nor did I give Jay Wheeler permission to use my image or name on any paid political advertisement.”

Wheeler said it was naiveto think somebody may not use the picture and that something similar has happened to him in the past.

“I would never classify the sheriff as naive, and I believe it’s a little presumptuous of Mr. Wheeler in portraying it that way,” Carius said.

In 2011, Wheeler paid $17,000 in fines to the state Elections Commission, which determined he violated laws during his 2008 campaign.

He was also censured by the school board in 2012 after members complained he was inattentive at meetings and disregarded policies.