Kriseman rips Samm Simpson on campaigning at Raytheon
ST. PETERSBURG -- In a letter to Democratic congressional candidate Samm Simpson, state Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) tells her "you should be ashamed of yourself" for campaigning at community meetings about the toxic plume around defense company Raytheon.
Kriseman writes that he hesitated to send the letter because it might give "unintended significance and validity to your campaign."
His complaint: That at meetings, her campaign was sign-waving, passing out campaign literature, and questioning incumbent U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's role. He also faults Max Linn, her Democratic opponent, whose campaigning during plume meetings he calls "offensive and reprehensible." He also sent the letter to Linn.
"Do you not understand that for every second you or one of you or one of your supporters is at the microphone politicking, an actual resident of the area is being silenced? Have you no respect for these people?" he wrote.
Simpson, who wants to represent CD 10, responded with a letter of her own. "He was way off base with that," Simpson said in an interview. "I’m just trying to help people. That’s not an easy thing to do in this world. "
At the May 30th meeting, she saw sign waving and agreed it was inappropriate. The sign waving stopped.
At the July 9th meeting, her volunteer coordinator Mike Fox handed out no literature but announced he was a volunteer for the campaign and asked two questions of the Department of Environmental Protection -- had the EPA or Young been in touch with your office? She wrote that she would have asked him not to ask the second question.
On July 14, Simpson and Fox attended, but Simpson did not identify herself as a candidate and asked a question about the Environmental Protection Agency. Fox asked where Young was, but Simpson said she felt it was inappropriate.
When asked if she thought the letter should have been directed at Linn, Simpson said she thought so because he "tagged every windshield" at the July 9th meeting and spoke at the July 14th meeting until Sen. Bill Nelson stopped him. He also had two people handing out literature, she said.
--Stephanie Garry, Times Staff Writer