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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

More questionable expenses, beautiful resorts courtesy of the GOP

The unprecedented look at Republican Party of Florida spending in its credit card statements is the gift that keeps on giving. Below find some more questionable expenses and interesting factoids:

Delmar's Valentine's Day trip: Former GOP Executive Director Delmar Johnson resigned Feb. 1. So why did his credit card statement include a four-night stay worth more than a $1,000 at a Courtyard Marriott in West Palm Beach over Valentine's Day weekend? It is possible someone else used Johnson's card, which is what he has said happened frequently, but it's interesting that the party would use the card of an official leaving under a cloud of suspicion. (And don't worry, if Delmar didn't go, he still spent $900 for two nights at Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach the week before he left the party.)

Hawaii trip gets nixed: Speaking of Delmar, he's probably pretty upset about the timing of his departure. He planned on attending the Republican National Committee meeting in Honolulu the weekend of Jan. 29-31. He booked a $2,650.40 plane ticket and intended to stay for four nights at the Hilton for $899.20. But both were refunded to his party charge card.

The Strangest Charge Award: This dubious honor goes to Andrew Wiggins, the party's deputy director for Senate campaigns, who spent $700 at the Magnolia BP gas station in Tallahassee on June 4, 2007, and charged another $300 at the Northside BP across town the same day. We can't figure out what costs $700 at a gas station. (But if it's gas, he impressively managed to hit an even dollar twice, which is tough.) UPDATE: The mystery is solved. The expense was gas cards for volunteers, party officials say.

Thanks, Bill McCollum: Attorney General Bill McCollum helped oust Chairman Jim Greer, Johnson's mentor and boss. And then what does he do? About two weeks later, some of McCollum's airfare charges get put on Johnson's card to the tune of $140.

Jerusalem envy: Greer and Johnson traveled to Jerusalem for a GOP event two months after Gov. Charlie Crist led a Florida delegation to Israel in May 2007. The shocking revelation: it appears that they spent just $1,500 between them. GOP donors can thank the exchange rate for the frugality.

House campaigns vs. Senate campaigns: We know the House and Senate like to compete. So which side spent more on the party credit cards? The House by more than two-fold with $1.75 million compared to the Senate's $630,000. The credit for the House victory goes to one person: Ray Sansom, whose aide, Melanie Phister, spent $1.2 million on her card. But both totals didn't match the $5.1 million total for party business.

$600,000: Greer's credit card total garnered big headlines earlier this year at $487,000. But add in his two "special assistants," Jeremy Collins and Michael Yaworsky, and the total reaches near $600,000.

Best Resort Award: The party credit cards show lawmakers and staffers jet-setted across the country to places like New York City, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Hampshire, Atlanta, Beverly Hills, San Diego, Washington and Santa Fe, N.M. But there was just something about seeing this picture of Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys that made us wish we weren't entering credit card data on a Saturday in Tallahassee. The charge we found appeared on Collins' card for April 17-19 and totaled nearly $2,000.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:36am]

    

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