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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tradewinds executive's e-mail costs him



Keith Overton, chief operating officer of the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, has resigned from the executive committee of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association after the Times/Herald published his e-mail drawing a direct line between public policy and fundraising for Gov. Rick Scott.

"Obviously, it was a mistake," Overton said of the e-mail, which upset many FRLA's members.

Overton, the immediate past president of FRLA, is deeply involved in one of the biggest special interest food fights in Tallahassee: The battle over whether online travel sites should pay taxes on the full amount that customers pay for hotel rooms.

Overton thinks those sites should pay up. In an e-mail to colleagues, Overton said a June 24 fundraiser with Scott was "an opportunity to reach out to the governor on this issue as well as several others which are important to our industry."

"We need to raise more money than them and make our voice loud on these issues," Overton wrote. "There is no limit on the amount you can contribute ... any amount you can spare will help our industry on this critical issue."

Overton, who remains on the FRLA board, said the e-mail was written out of "emotion and frustration." He said he resigned so there would be no confusion that he was acting on behalf of the group's executive committee.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 11:36am]


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