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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Three Florida State Board members gave to Bennett's campaign



As Tony Bennett prepares to take over as Florida education commissioner, critics are taking a close look at his connections. Florida education blogger Bob Sikes, for one, has raised pointed questions about some of the campaign contributions that Bennett received from members of the State Board of Education.

Indiana election records show that Florida State Board chairman Gary Chartrand's trust put $5,000 toward Bennett's reelection bid, while former chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan contributed $150 and board member John Padget and his business gave $650. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and his business donated $1,500, as well.

Should the board members have disclosed their financial support of Bennett before their vote to hire him? It was common knowledge already that Bennett and Bush were close, and several board members revealed they had spoken to Bennett the weekend before the vote. His name was the one most prominently mentioned by just about everyone as the likely next commissioner after he lost in Indiana primarily because of his affiliations to such leaders.

Just how critical an issue do you think this is? Any others?

[Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 9:15am]


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