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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mike Haridopolos on Bill Nelson, state plane, ethics violations and croaker bill



Will he or won’t he? Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos won’t say – at least when it comes to raising money during session, which is prohibited for state lawmakers seeking state office. Haridopolos, though, is running for a federal office, U.S. Senate.

Every week the press corps has asked about his session fundraising (the two-month session starts in less than two weeks), so Haridopolos has a new answer: Ask incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson if he’ll stop raising money for the session.

“Ask him the question if he’s going to stop raising money over the next 60 days. You get that answer. And then I’ll answer that question,” he said.

“Bill Nelson has run for office in 1972. I was born in 1970. He is raising money. And he raised money in the last days of the budget,” Haridopolos said.

“He gets to go raise money for 60 days and you’re saying I shouldn’t?... Is he so addicted to raising money for the next 60 days that he’s gotta have it?”

Other Haridopolos tidbits:

He suggested he’s warming to Gov. Rick Scott’s ideas about cutting corporate-income and property taxes, but he suggested he might want other taxes cut instead (e.g., the motor-vehicle tag fees that he voted to raise in 2007).

On Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander demanding that Scott explain the legal authority he relied on to sell the state plane: “This is his first month on the job. If he made a mistake, he’ll fix it. His intent was the correct intent. I don’t think he meant any malice by it…. no one thinks the governor tried to pull a fast one.”

On his pending ethics fine to be discussed Thursday by the Rules Committee, chaired by his campaign supporter John Thrasher: “I’ve recused myself from the entire issue. Whatever they recommend, I’ll accept.”

On the prescription drug database Scott wants to Scotch: "We need to make sure Florida is no longer the pill mill capital of the country.” Haridopolos said he supports using state money for the “tool,” which would help law enforcement track croakers.

On the opening week of session: "We have a very ambitious opening week," including Medicaid changes, the so-called Health Care Freedom Act, TABOR, and teacher tenure.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 3:54pm]


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