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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hackworth, Latvala get personal over campaign cash

20

September

EAST LAKE -- When moderator Al Ruechel of Bay News 9 first offered Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala a "free shot" to respond to attacks from opponent Bob Hackworth, she passed to scattered applause Monday.

But she wouldn't pass for long, delivering a stinger that left Hackworth steaming after the candidate forum in East Lake.

The blast:

"I don't have a family member who's going to write a big check to fund my campaign," said Latvala, a Republican on the commission since 2007 2000. (An earlier version listed the incorrect year.)

Hackworth, a Democrat, teed off on Latvala accepting campaign donations from companies doing work with the county, saying it was a question of "trust" after the Jim Smith land sale scandal of 2007. Hackworth has set a $100 limit on contribution and won't take them from companies. Hackworth has put more than $20,000 into his campaign, about half his fund-raising. His family runs a printing business in Dunedin.

"I don't have a family member who's funding my campaign. If you're going to make an accusation, at least name' em," Hackworth responded to Latvala, who has raised more than $115,000.

Afterward, Hackworth -- who has "Not For Sale" across his yard signs -- said Latvala was essentially suggesting he was violating the law. He differentiated that from his attacks, saying he hasn't said Latvala has broken the law, just played into the "perception of pay to play politics."

Latvala, who left shortly afterward, couldn't immediately be reached by phone to elaborate.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 2:35pm]

    

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