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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Atwater's 'transparent' credit card statements



Senate President Jeff Atwater, whose statements about “transparency” have become a hallmark, will only go so far when it comes to publicizing his Republican Party of Florida credit card expenses.

Atwater said last week he “wouldn't care" who saw his American Express billing statements. But Atwater now says he doesn’t have them. RPOF has them. But it's refusing to release them.

Atwater recently reviewed his records at RPOF's George Bush building headquarters, just a few blocks down the hill from the state Capitol. But Atwater's not leaving with any copies of his records, either. After Atwater's statements last week about disclosing his records, his office said that it'll be up to RPOF to decide whether to release the president's records.

On Saturday, the RPOF chose a new chairman: Sen. John Thrasher. A Thrasher spokeswoman then said that the individual statements will remain confidential.

Going forward, the individual credit card statements will likely remain shielded from public scrutiny. Thank a Thrasher-chaired Ethics and Election Committee vote for that. It passed legislation last week that, among other things, ensures party credit card statements remain shielded from public view.  Thrasher said the legislation “doesn’t prevent anyone who had a credit card from giving that stuff up.”

It’s not as if billing records aren’t leaking out. Just ask a defensive Marco Rubio today about his AmEx charges. Then there's the Hard Rock London and Rubio's indicted successor as House Speaker, Ray Sansom. And don't forget Delmar Johnson's golfing in Cali.

Republicans say the individual statements shouldn't be disclosed because RPOF, like the Florida Democrat Party, is private. Also, credit card charges are somewhat disclosed in campaign finance reports.

But it's not clear who spent what money, where and when -- especially in the past few years when guys like convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothsteinor accused scammer Dr. Alan Mendelsohn were raising money for the party to maintain political control in Florida. 

Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:23pm]


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