Christie: Follow the money in heated West Palm Beach commission race

Christina Lambert, who won the West Palm Beach City Commission District 5 seat in March, poses for photo with Mayor Jeri Muoio and other supporters. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

It’s been nearly three months since challenger Christina Lambert unseated West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio by a mere 183 votes in a heated, and increasingly controversial race.

The city hadn’t seen the likes of this kind of nastiness since Mayor Jeri Muoio defeated former Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell in a knockdown, drag-out, no-holds-barred mayoral brawl back in 2015.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Ex-West Palm commissioner: Foe’s consultant hid election contributors

And Materio is back for Round 2. According to the Post’s Tony Doris, she has filed three complaints with the Florida Elections Commission alleging that three shell companies were created to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for political purposes without declaring themselves political organizations — which are required to identify contributors.

The political purpose? Electing Lambert.

The contributors? Voters don’t know. But shouldn’t they, for the sake of transparency?

The proposed One Flagler tower was rejected by the West Palm Beach City Commission last September by a vote of 3-2.

Lambert, a newcomer with business community ties, managed to knock off the more seasoned Materio mainly because she had the money. She also had in her corner Rick Asnani, one of the county’s top political consultants.

That’s all good. Lambert won the seat, and is ensconced on the commission. Ready to vote, among other things, on a rejuvenated plan to create the Okeechobee Business District (OBD). Yep, the same OBD that would allow the construction of the 25-story One Flagler office building pretty much on Flagler Drive.

That’s not all good. A number of city residents — vocal city residents — don’t like the idea of building the tower on an already traffic-clogged Okeechobee Boulevard. They especially don’t like the fact that the issue seemed dead after it was defeated when it came before the commission in September.

But what a difference an election makes.

RELATED: West Palm: Lambert narrowly beats Materio; Shoaf wins District 1

Shanon Materio, former West Palm Beach city commissioner.

Materio has been accused of some stuff too.

“Ms. Materio used a campaign committee that was established in the month of February 2018, just one month before the election, and ran $23,000 in donations through the entity to help her campaign while hiding the donors,” Asnani told the Post. “Prior to that, Materio used a different political committee to send out a mailing that is being investigated by the Florida Elections Commission for potential illegal donations.”

Political operative Bill Newgent, for his part, filed complaints about a series of alleged misfilings and a missed deadline regarding Materio’s campaign documentation, Doris wrote.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

Election campaigns laws exist for a reason. The primary one being so that voters know who is influencing or attempting to influence candidates that are vying to represent constituents.

We know that transparency is a good thing… and “democracy dies in the darkness.”

But this long after the election, is there value in Materio’s insistence on knowing the names of the people or entities that contributed to those three mysterious shell companies created by Asnani?