Foster targeted in new mailer
Image courtesy saintpetersblog1.blogspot.com
Bill Foster is the target of a mailer criticizing his tax record while on the City Council. The mailer, which is apparently paid for by a group that calls itself the Committee for Responsible Representation, says Foster voted to increase city property taxes 64 percent from 1999 to 2006.
The mailer also says Foster accepted a 40 percent pay raise in 2005 while postponing pay raises for other city employees.
"Bill Foster had almost a decade of chances to stand up for working families and help grow our economy and jobs," the mailer reads in part. "Instead, Foster helped grow government."
Foster called the mailer a "false characterization" of his record and said he believes the ad was sent with the knowledge of candidate Deveron Gibbons.
Foster said he repeatedly voted to lower the city's tax rate while on the council, though property tax collections did increase. While he did see his pay on council raise from $27,316 to $38,000, plus a $150 monthly expense allowance, he voted against the measure. He said he is the only council member ever to opt out of the council member's pension program.
"I knew that after we started to single ourselves out of a crowded field, you have a big bulls-eye on you," said Foster, who led in the most recent Times/Bay News 9 poll with 17 percent. "We're getting it from everywhere."
The man behind the Committee for Responsible Representation, Patrick Bainter, of Gainesville, previously attacked attorney general candidate state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell for a bill he sponsored that regulated the payday loan industry.
Foster is linking Gibbons to Bainter because Gibbons works for Amscot Financial, a company that provides payday loans.
"There's nothing that anyone can say to convince me (Gibbons) didn't know," Foster said. "It's a desperate attempt by somebody with a lot of money, money which came from out of the area."
Gibbons said Thursday he knows Bainter but doesn't know anything about the ad. Gibbons said he was working as a lobbyist in 2001 and helped pass the payday loan legislation that Bainter previously attacked.
"I really don't know what you're talking about. I haven't seen it," Gibbons said when asked about the mailer.
Bainter did not return a call seeking comment.
UPDATE: Draw your own conclusions, but the Committee for Responsible Representation is a client of The Victory Group of Tampa, which is also working on Gibbons' campaign. The Committee for Responsible Representation paid a total of $45,560.12 to The Victory Group for media buys in 2008, state records show. Victory Group president Adam Goodman is serving as a Gibbons campaign consultant.
Aaron Sharockman,Times Staff Writer