Bill Nelson Puts Campaign Workers on Payroll After Free Beacon Report

Nelson had been cutting costs by paying staff as independent contractors

Sen. Bill Nelson / Getty Images

Democratic senator Bill Nelson (Fla.) appears to have begun reclassifying consultants working for his campaign as salaried employees after it was revealed his campaign was structured to avoid common costs.

The Nelson campaign's latest filing, a pre-primary report covering expenses from July and the first week of August, was the first of the cycle to include payroll disbursements and associated costs, including payroll taxes and worker benefits. Previously, Nelson's "completely uncommon" campaign structure had allowed the campaign to save big, but led to criticism from his Republican opponent Rick Scott, who labeled the Democrat a "hypocrite."

The new filing discloses that nearly all of the individuals put on the payroll were being paid by the campaign as independent contractors until July 15, two days after the Washington Free Beacon‘s July 13 report showing Nelson to be the only 2018 Senate candidate without any employees.

Gregory Goddard, for example, on his LinkedIn profile says he has been the campaign's finance director since last year. The campaign had been making regular payments to Goddard on the first of the month since February 2017 as a "fundraising consultant," and the new filing reveals that Goddard was paid again as a "fundraising consultant" on July 2.

On July 15, however, the disbursement to Goddard was classified for the first time as "payroll."

The same is true for Carlie Waibel, who on her LinkedIn profile says she has been the campaign's communications director since April 2018 but had been paid regularly as a "communications consultant" as recently as July 2.

The campaign similarly transitioned "strategic planning consultant" Rashahra Anderson, "strategic digital consultant" Benjamin Sharpe, and "management consultant" Marley Wilkes, each paid as independent contractors on July 2, onto its payroll on July 15.

Waibel declined to tell the Washington Free Beacon when employees were notified they were being put on the campaign's payroll.

The new filing strongly indicates, however, that the campaign's decision to finally treat its staff as employees was made in July.

Two staffers, Sebastian Kitchen and Luisana Perez Fernandez, received their first payments from the campaign on July 2, when they were both paid as independent contractors. On July 15, both were on the payroll.

Campaign finance lawyers told the Washington Free Beacon that Nelson's campaign would be breaking labor laws if it was paying workers as independent contractors when they were acting as full-time employees. Waibel declined to explain whether her day-to-day duties changed when the terms of her employment did.

The new filing shows the campaign paid $24,092.60 in payroll taxes in July. The campaign has just nine employees on its payroll, about one fourth of the number of staffers currently on Scott's payroll.

Payroll taxes are used to fund programs such as Medicare and Social Security, two programs Nelson pledges to defend if reelected.

The campaign also disclosed its first payment this cycle for health insurance, $693.50 to BlueCross BlueShield of Florida on July 16, in the new filing,