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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Potential conflict or politically savvy UCF move?



The fight for higher education dollars could get very ugly next month, what with the governor recommending more than $250-million in cuts that would - among other things - put off funding for UCF and FIU's long-sought medical schools.

But UCF could have a powerful weapon for the special session: former Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger consultant Donna Arduin, who is getting paid almost $20,000 to serve as an "economic development" consultant through the end of this year. That contract took effect in March, and she'll update the board of trustees tomorrow on the state budget picture.

Arduin stressed to the Buzz that she is not a lobbyist and won't be doing any lobbying for UCF. She said she merely developed an "economic impact model" for UCF's planned medical school and surrounding community.

She does have an insider's view of the budget, thanks to her recently re-upped $10,000-a-month consulting contract with House Speaker Marco Rubio to advise the House on budget matters.

According to Arduin's UCF contract, which ends in December, she "will assist UCF in arranging visits with pertinent officials relative to economic development and related issues." She will "advise client on revenue trends, economic development activities, and related matters."

"Consultant may be called upon to make representation on behalf of UCF but not engage in any lobbying activities with the Legislature or any other elected officials."

Check out the contract here.

Rubio said he could not comment until knowing more. "I’ll talk to our staff about it. I don’t exactly know the scope of her employment," he told the Buzz.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:04pm]


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