Wheeler denies using campaign funds for bar mitzvah rental space



CELEBRATION, Fla. - Osceola County school board member Jay Wheeler is at the center of another controversy, Channel 9 has learned.

Father of two Keith Thompson said he was looking into Wheeler's campaign records and found a $1,300 rental fee paid to the Celebration homeowner's association.

Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez dug deeper and found one day after the check was written using campaign funds, Wheeler filled out a form to reserve a banquet hall for a bar mitzvah with a caterer and disc jockey.

"I never intended to use campaign funds for any personal gain," said Wheeler.

Wheeler pointed out he also booked the hall for a get together and said he just wrote down anything to hold the space.

"I didn't know what I was going to use it for," said Wheeler.

"You keep saying that but it says bar mitzvah on this paper," Alvarez said.

"I didn't do a bar mitzvah there," said Wheeler.

"But why are you saying you didn't know you were going to use it for if it says bar mitzvah?" asked Alvarez.

"Because, they didn't want to let me use the facility for a series of events," said Wheeler. "I didn't know what I was going to use it for."

Wheeler also got his treasurer on the phone who told Channel 9 the money was put back into the campaign fund months later when the events were canceled. 

Wheeler insists he did nothing wrong, but Thompson is not convinced.

"I just think it's wrong," said Thompson. "I'm trying to teach my kids to do the right thing, follow the rules, follow the laws, because they're there for everybody and that's we all should do."

Wheeler told Channel 9 he did celebrate his son's bar mitzvah recently but said it was at a different location and he said he paid for it himself.