Is Ringling Museum Grounds Appropriate For Presidential Campaign Rally?

Ringling Museum says event for Gov. Mitt Romney was "rented" at "fair market venue."

Updated 9:59 a.m. Sept. 21

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art's place in a presidential campaign was a "fair market value" rental, according to museum staff.

Patch readers wanted to know this week whether the public museum operated by the Florida State University system was appropriate to be the site of the Gov. Mitt Romney rally on Thursday afternoon.

The Ringling Museum's spokesman Scott Gardiner told Patch the campaign event was OK within the museum's and Florida State University policies.

"As with any organization, special events require modification to our standard conditions. As an example, the recent Jackie Evancho “Dream with Me” filming, produced for PBS in April of 2010, did not fit within the standard conditions and a special rental agreement was created," Gardiner told Patch. 

The museum operated as normal Thursday and none of the buildings were closed off to the public.

"Ringling is not hosting or sponsoring the Mitt Romney event," Gardiner continued. "The Ringling Museum is being rented through a business transaction at fair market value."

The rental policy posted on the museum's website is for after-hours events and used for common events such as weddings and rentals and specifiies no revenue-generating or political events could be hosted at the museum. 

However, the definition of what hosting exactly means could be debated.

Florida State University policy restricts political activities:

However, current state laws and regulations prohibit state employees from using state resources to participate in political campaigns or activities including lobbying and political solicitation of any kind. 


FSU will neither host nor sponsor a political rally or fundraiser and under no circumstances may the university participate in generating press coverage or soliciting attendance at any such events.

As visitors came into Ringling, it wasn't just a back courtyard that was host to political activity. The entrance was littered with Vern Buchannan for Congress signs, vendors both set up booths for campaign merchandise and roamed the sidewalks and protestors crowded the sidewalks of Ringling and the streets, too.

As the conversation furthers, a Patch Facebook fan this isn't the first FSU facility to be used for a presidential campaign stop this year. Michelle Obama delivered a campaign speech Monday at the Donald L. Tucker Center, commonly known as the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.


What do you think? Should the Ringling Museum rent out venues for certain campaign events or presidential campaigns?

Mark Conrad September 20, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Readers with all the information regarding Ringling Museum Rental Policies and Proceedures as well as Florida State University Policy on Political and Campaign Activities would be better able to have an informed opinion.
Ronald Smith September 20, 2012 at 10:32 PM
It pretty clearly states no political events.
Richard M. Swier September 21, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Let me see. America is headed over a fiscal cliff. Islamists are attacking our embassies and have sodomized, tortured and killed our ambassador to Libya, two former Navy SEALS working for our government to secure the over 15,000 man portable surface to air missiles missing from there and Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupts as is our government and Patch readers are concerned about the rules of the Ringling Museum? Please tell me this column is a joke!
Bill September 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM
If at Ringling at all, the rally should have been held at the Circus Museum where the ex-governor could have posed amid all the other clowns.
Steve September 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Sour grapes by Democrats -- If Obama rented the space, they wouldn't say a word --- HYPOCRITES.
Sue Blue September 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Dear Steve: You are wrong wrong wrong. Our museum grounds should never be rented for the purpose of advertising or promotion of anything other than Sarasota's cultural, artistic life. If those currently in charge of these matters at the museum choose not to adhere to the wishes of John Ringling (the museum given to the people of Sarasota) nor the rules regarding the use of the museum they should be replaced immediately. Curious: how long were these "negotiations" in the works? And who in the world gave permission to attach "signs" to a wall of the museum? Thoughts from a native Sarasotan....Sue Blue
Richard Dorfman September 21, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I suppose Ringling's rental policy could be interpretive but I consider the more relevant aspect of this discussion is acknowledging that a candidate for our land's highest office considered Sarasota and its citizens important enough to make a stop here as did President Obama some time ago. For that we should deservedly feel proud. We are an engaged and informed citizenry.
Bill September 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Funny how you just know what Democrats would say if Obama had been there! The Ringling should not be used for political purposes, period. Funny, too, how an obvious fan of Romney's should use the word "hypocrites"; you wouldn't be referring to "then I was for a good health care plan but now I'm against it," would you? The man is a buffoon, a rich guy who wants the presidency to add to his resume, since obviously having been Governor of Mass. isn't enough for him.
art lover September 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Then no wedding rentals, I guess! Also, Ringling is the official Art Museum of Florida not of Sarasota and was given to the people of Florida not the residents of Sarasota. So its use should not be limited to Sarasota interests!
Willyone September 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I think that this is the best of both worlds. The Ringling gets to make some money and I get to hear all of the Liberal Loons getting crazy over it. God sometimes I love the way things play out. Get a grip people who would you rather have in office when the dollar crashes. All ODUMBO knows is how to spend taxpayers hard earned fake federal reserve notes. You can never payoff a debt when at the moment more money is printed, it is worth "less". I will vote for the man who has a proven track record of knowing what to do to make money.
Bill September 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
And to hide it offshore.
Richard M. Swier September 21, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I think that Patch missed the real story about professional protesters who showed up to disrupt and instigate at the rally. Here is a real story: http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2012/09/20/protesters-from-tampa-come-to-sarasota-and-attack-romney-supporters/
Richard M. Swier September 21, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Bill, I wish I had off shore accounts like those who must do so because of our onerous tax codes. Get rid of the federal income taxes for individuals and corporations and the money would flow from overseas to our shores. What is your solution?
Brian September 21, 2012 at 07:26 PM
First off this anyone can pick anywhere to be, or rent. Today we are still free! Who are you to tell anyone where, when and what to say? You should only have free speak ONLY if it is of the same mind! Anyone who has rented a space in Sarasota knows that the CIRCUS are the only people in controle of the other two venues all of you have mentioned, and even the city of Sarasota had trouble renting them for events. I don't believe anyone saw a sign company truck outside the museum drilling wholes in the side to "attach" signs from a licensed sign contractor! Off shore accounts- this is a good one! Anyone at that level of government and even regular people who invest in a retirment fund have OFF SHORE ACCOUNTS, ssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh don't tell anyone! Yes even the young lady who brought the off shore accounts to our attention HAS ONE! Don,t mention the war chest that both party's have because they both are spending money on JUNK Obama 250 thousand on a champage fountain! 20 thousand dollar a head for diner, and this is the party that "thinks of the people first" ? really?
Bill September 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Lots of people have off-shore accounts--fine. If that rocks your boat, great! But only one of them is running for President and hiding his assets and tax returns. As for the money spent on the campaign--why don't you reference the multiple pro-Romney super-pacs for whom the election is just another thing for them to buy? But if you think that's cool, send a thank you note to the Supreme Court.
Richard M. Swier September 21, 2012 at 08:14 PM
No one is hiding anything. The Romney's have released their 2011 tax returns to day. They paid over 14% in taxes and an added 30% in donations on about $13 million in primarily investment income. Get off the hiding stuff. How about Holder hiding information about Fast and Furious. That is hiding!
candi September 22, 2012 at 01:46 AM
If president obama came to speak in our lovely town the Ringling would not be large enough space to hold all of the citizens who would come to support him....he would need to hold his rally at the stadium like he did before to standing room-overflow crowd!!
J Ruse September 22, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I'll have some of what candi's having. First, I'll get my doctor's number and 911 programmed into my cell phone, though, just in case it does something unexpected to me. ... So, what you got going there, candi?
Brian September 22, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Ok Mr Bill Super pacs are not one sided! Off shore accounts belong to the Obamas and well as the Romenys. One of the larger super pacs supporting Obamas campain is from east! You need to get your facts straight.
Brian September 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Good for Mr Obama I am glad that he can draw such a large croud, that means he speaks well and can follow the prompter. As far as running our Government....... not so much. Please look at the whole picture, do your own research, by that I mean look for the other person to be right rather than wrong, (because we all know that if you look for the bad that is all you will find) and review this for your self. If you did you would find that Romney IS for healthcare, wormens rights and a whole host of things you might be surpised at! Next how did you feel today when you saw the pictures of the US embassy personnel being dragged down the street still alive! Oh sorry that is only on the internet, because the mainstream media would NEVER report a bad thing about Mr Obama, and did hear him say the other night that Bush was to blame for the guns in Mexico, are you kidding, he wasn't even inoffice! But that is today, look for the bad, blame someone esle and god forbid you should be responcible for youself!
Gary Price September 23, 2012 at 09:06 PM
The joke Richard is your biased (AKA unabashed) hidden agenda. You should be asking yourself why your're still using deceiving/misleading business practices. And please, let up on the hyperbole, its just not becoming of a person in your profession. Additionally, your a little off topic here but that's consistent with everything else you're about. The fiscal cliff is entirely a republican problem. From 1944 until 1981 our country was fiscally responsible and we were nearly a debt free country in 1981. From 1981 until present we have been piling on the debt. That's right during a period of republican rule and policy debt skyrocketed. The only time it went down was under President Clinton. As for the killings in Libya, the world is a dangerous place. Example: President Reagan took office in 1981 and in October of 1983, 243 marines were killed in Beirut, most of them as they lie sleeping. When ever Americans are killed its a tragic thing and it should not be used for political or even worse personal gain like you're attempting to do. President Obama and his team are on the job and based on past experience I wouldn't want to be our enemies in this matter. Please clean it up sir.
Gary Price September 23, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Current US debt to GDP is roughly 100% , see chart for other details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_President.jpg
Carolyn and Cricket September 24, 2012 at 04:45 PM
This is Florida and it is still HOT in Sept. shudda picked some place inside where it would have been cooler!
Gary Price September 24, 2012 at 06:38 PM
There goes Richard supporting the people that pay his bills. Let's see if I get this right. First, Richard says I am going to blame Obama and you can't blame Bush. Second, let's do anything we can from a real comparison between the two Presidents why? Because Bush was in office a full eight years prior to the 2nd largest financial collapse in our countries history. One would have to conclude that Richard/republicans are under the illusion that financial collapses spawn prosperity or potentially he/they are completely oblivious about it's existence. How bad was the financial collapse? Get it directly from Paul Ryan himself http://youtu.be/J3U8ZrThR3M. Remember, the cause of the disease is not the cure. Vote Democratic this fall.
virginia hoffman September 25, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Clear indication on how a Romney Administration will conduct itself rule with two sets of rules one for Romney & his cronies and another set for the rest of us.
Gary Price September 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Great Commercial that just started airing today for Keith Fitzgerald. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKpoHdVp9hE&feature=plcp
Eleanor Sackler December 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
i love that I'm looking at this a few months later and the President has been reelected. No amount of pomp and circumstance (or smoke and mirrors) could elect Mitt Romney!
Gary Price December 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
It is rewarding when your on the winning and just side of the debate. Stay vigilant, there is much work to be done at the state level.


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