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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What 'insider' LeMieux had to say about Everglades deal




Cast as an "insider" and "former chief of staff to Governor Charlie Crist," George LeMieux delivered the keynote address at a conference sponsored by his law firm, which represented U.S. Sugar in a colossal deal to sell its Everglades land to Florida.

The speech -- and the way it was advertised -- raises questions about LeMieux's denial in today's New York Times story that he had any role in the deal and took pains to avoid a conflict of interest. LeMieux left Crist in January 2008 re-join his law firm, Gunster Yoakley.

The Buzz has found the promotional material for the event on Oct. 30-31, 2008, at the Hilton Hotel in Deerfield Beach. A schedule described the speech as a discussion of the "future of ecosystem restoration and sustainable development in Florida." LeMieux spoke about the U.S. Sugar deal in the speech and during a Q&A session, according to a person familiar with the talk.

The Everglades deal was reworked in April 2008, but negotiations began while LeMieux was at Crist's side. A spokesman for now-U.S. Sen. LeMieux told the Buzz, “The senator went to great lengths to put a wall between him and the transaction, He played no role in the agreement. Anything he discussed about it at that conference was available in the public domain.”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:26pm]


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