Posted: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014

Volusia Council makes changes to prevent illegal campaign contributions

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —

The Volusia County Council decided it needs to make changes after suspects in a massive mortgage fraud scheme reportedly gave illegal campaign contributions to council members.

Waverly Media was accused of trying to buy special treatment with those contributions.

Council members voted to establish a committee of citizens who can recommend what changes the county should make to ensure no one is able to buy political influence in Volusia County.

Tempers flared inside county chambers Thursday as a council member was put in the hot seat for accepting illegal campaign contributions.

Josh Wagner tried to turn the tables on the lawyer the county hired to investigate him and other candidates.

“You’re not answering the question. You’re answering as an argument which you accused me of earlier,” he told Jon Kaney, the county’s inspector general.

Kaney found Waverly Media, a bus bench advertising company, used straw donors to funnel campaign contributions that were over the legal limit to Wagner and five other candidates.

Waveryly’s office was raided and the company’s principals were recently convicted in the $80 million mortgage fraud scheme.

The investigation cost taxpayers $115,000 but left some important questions unanswered.

“You have people who committed $80 million in mortgage fraud who are spending a lot of time and money over Volusia County government, and we still don’t know why,” said council member Doug Daniels.

The Volusia County Chair believes the investigation that duplicated the state attorney’s investigation was a waste of tax dollars.

“We had no authority to put anyone in jail,” said Jason Davis.

“At the time the state attorney wasn’t investigating, someone had to,” Daniels said.

In the end, neither investigation found any criminal wrongdoing.

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