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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cardenas starts lobbying feds for mega GOP donor Gary Morse



From the Center for Resonsive Politics: One of the Republican Party's biggest donors -- a Florida real estate developer who apparently is facing a federal investigation over the use of special tax districts for his retirement complex -- hired a lobbyist in the last quarter of 2012 for the purpose of "contacting the federal government" about the districts.

The Villages, owned by developer H. Gary Morse and his family, had not previously hired a lobbyist at the federal level, according to records. But the new lobbying report shows that it paid $30,000 during the quarter to Cardenas Partners, led by Al Cardenas, the Cuban-born two-time chairman of the Florida Republican Party. Cardenas has done state-level work in the past for the Villages. ...

Morse's special tax districts have been under investigation by the IRS since at least 2009, when the agency wrote to the Villages saying it believed that bonds issued by one of the development's special districts overpaid Morse for golf courses and other structures, according to Bloomberg, and that some of the assets it bought from the developer weren't eligible to be purchased with tax-exempt bonds. While the IRS won't comment on investigations of taxpayers, legal documents indicate that the inquiry was ongoing as of last May....

Morse's spokesperson, Gary Lester, did not return calls seeking comment, and it's unclear why he hired a lobbyist to discuss the special tax districts in the halls of Congress.

But he's unlikely to need much help opening doors on Capitol Hill, at least on the Republican side. Contributions from Morse and his family, his companies and their employees to federal GOP candidates and committees over the past several election cycles have been prolific. Morse and his wife have given $2.2 million since 1999, according to research. And his children and their spouses have given another $2.1 million. Employees of the Villages and related companies? Add another $2.7 million.


[Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 9:30pm]


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