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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The lobbyist and Mike Haridopolos



From 30-year-old community college professor to Florida Senate president, Mike Haridopolos' political rise has been steady and methodical. Two years in the Florida House; elected to the Florida Senate in 2003; on the short list to be Charlie Crist's lieutenant governor in 2006; Senate president 2010-present; now a candidate for U.S. Senate.

At his side all along has been Frank Tsamoutales, a low-profile lobbyist. Haridopolos calls him one of his closest political advisers.

"He offers good advice. I don't always take it, but I think he's a very smart guy and he's been around the block,'' Haridopolos, 41, said of his fellow Brevard County Republican, who regularly meets with him in the Senate president's office.

Most ambitious politicians have top strategists and fundraisers. But the degree to which Haridopolos' interests and Tsamoutales' have repeatedly overlapped is striking and sometimes controversial.

• One of Tsamoutales' clients and closest friends pays Haridopolos $5,000 a month — $60,000 a year — for amorphous consulting duties. Haridopolos was admonished by the Senate last month for failing to disclose the source of that income....

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[Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2011 8:00pm]


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