Public Reprimand and $25000 Fine for a Judge for Misrepresenting the Source of Her Loan for Election Campaign

In In re Pando, 903 So. 2d 902 (Fla. 2005), the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) and Judge Ana Marie Pando stipulated that during the course of her 1998 and 2000 election campaigns, Judge Pando "knowingly or recklessly" accepted a loan from her mother in excess of the $ 500 statutory limit that was made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election; accepted numerous loans from her mother and her stepfather that were in excess of the $ 500 statutory limit; "knowingly or recklessly" violated statutory reporting provisions by misrepresenting the source of these loans in her campaign finance reports; and made misleading statements in her deposition by special counsel for the JQC regarding the source of a purported $ 25,000 loan. 903 So. 2d at 903. The JQC determined that Judge Pando violated provisions of chapter 106, Florida Statutes, and Canons 1, 2, and 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The JQC recommended a public reprimand and a $ 25,000 fine, and this Court approved the recommended discipline. Id. at 903-04. Judge Pando made misleading statements when questioned by the JQC about a loan. In contrast, Judge Colodny was "responsive" to the investigative panel, voluntarily provided further documentation to the panel, and filed a corrected Form 6 when "she recognized that her filings were inadequate." This Court has previously approved recommended disciplinary sanctions where the JQC relied on the respondent's cooperation as a mitigating factor. See: In re Luzzo, 756 So. 2d 76, 77-78 (Fla. 2000) (approving public reprimand where judge was candid, remorseful, and cooperative after improperly accepting baseball tickets from practicing attorneys); In re Brown, 748 So. 2d 960, 961-62 (Fla. 1999) (approving public reprimand for judge's issuance of orders and warrants in cases from which he should have been recused where judge displayed remorse and cooperated with the JQC).