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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

22 floors up, a GOP power lunch



Dozens of business leaders ate lunch today on the 22nd floor of the Capitol and listened to a speech from Gov. Charlie Crist -- just one of several events today for the Republican Party of Florida's 2nd annual "Fly-In and Forum."

Later, House Speaker Marco Rubio, incoming Senate President Jeff Atwater and his likely successor Mike Haridopolos met with the visitors, who were touring the Old Capitol. "It was not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to thank some of our donors," said RPOF communications director Erin VanSickle.

The events were not public and did not appear on Crist's or Rubio's daily schedule. The party rented the 22nd floor for lunch. At 4:30, the business officials will hear a policy discussion and the Republican plans for delivering the presidential race for John McCain and to win congressional seats. A 6 p.m. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp will host a reception at the Governor's Mansion.

RPOF Chairman Jim Greer said he felt uncomfortable releasing names of the attendees without their consent. But Greer described them as small and large business leaders who "have provided counsel and support to myself and the governor."

He said the event drew about 100 people, up from 30 last year.

Erin Isaac, the governor's spokeswoman, said party and personal events are never on his public schedule. "Taxpayer resources should not be used to promote his political schedule."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:52am]


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