Cash for coverage questions for St Pete blogger/consultant
ST. PETERSBURG — In Florida's power circles, politicos say dealing with well-connected blogger Peter Schorsch often comes down to the money.
Want to garner his favor or avoid his wrath? Buy an ad.
Want him to write a flattering story or remove a negative post he already wrote? Buy an ad.
According to five people active in politics, Schorsch, 37, has tried to pressure them for hundreds or thousands of dollars in exchange for good stories or the deletion of bad ones.
Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and former state Rep. Frank Farkas are among those who say Schorsch tried to trade coverage for money. Three accusers provided documentation and one, Michael Pinson, offered a notarized contract signed by Schorsch.
Since the Times started asking questions early this month, a 2 ½ -year-old dormant criminal investigation into Schorsch based on some of these claims has been renewed, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Schorsch, in an interview accompanied by his attorney, vehemently denied ever having a "quid pro quo" relationship with clients but acknowledged offering to remove negative content from his site, saintpetersblog.com, in exchange for money.
"It is absolutely to a candidate's benefit to advertise on my site," he said. "Being on my radar screen is a very good thing."
On Thursday, the Times contacted Gualtieri, one of many politicians who have paid Schorsch for services, including advertising (the sheriff gave him $2,400 during his 2012 election bid). A reporter read excerpts from documents in which Schorsch asked for money from politicos in exchange for the removal of negative stories he had written.
"Wow. Wow," the sheriff said. "If all that's true, that's crazy."
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