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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sink doesn't like lobbyists - except when they give her money



Alex Sink's toughest line of attack against her Republican rival is that he's a lobbyist. But she has no problem fueling her political career with tens of thousands of dollars from the influence industry.

During Monday’s Congressional District 13 debate, Republican David Jolly tried to call her out for hypocrisy:

“Would you pledge tonight to return every dollar that you have received from a federal lobbyist or special interest? You have bankrolled you political career raising money from lobbyists. Are you prepared to give that back? And are you prepared to have our debate on Wednesday, as scheduled, as opposed to going to Washington, D.C. fundraising?

Sink never answered as a debate moderator signaled it was time to move on. “Yeah, what?” concurred a relieved-looking Sink.

Of course Sink’s not going to give back the money, which helped swell her coffers in a 2006 run for CFO and 2010 bid for governor and now as she attempts to turn the long-held GOP district blue.

And Sink did skip a would-be Tiger Bay debate today for a pair of fundraisers in Washington, where she no doubt encountered (shudder) lobbyists doing the same sort of thing Jolly did, giving checks to Democrats and Republicans.

A quick spin through Sink’s current fundraising reports show money from lobbying shops ($3,000 alone from Holland & Knight employees) and special interests, ranging from Florida Crystals to the St. Pete Kennel Club.

There’s a distinction to Sink’s attack on Jolly. He was a lobbyist and actively worked on behalf of special interests including the conservative group Free Enterprise Nation, that raised questions about oil drilling and other sensitive issues.

But Sink’s own prolific money gathering shows the faults in her campaign’s attempt to paint Jolly as a sleazy Washington operator.

So how would she have answered Monday?

We posed the question to her campaign. A spokeswoman did not address Jolly's statement, but called him a “hired gun who has spent his career in D.C. putting special interests over Pinellas families.”

“Now Washington lobbyist Jolly is even raising money from Rick Scott,” campaign spokeswoman Ashley Walker said, referring to a Tallahassee fundraiser Jolly is attending today.

So while Jolly raises special interest money in Tallahassee, Sink does the same in Washington. And her campaign won't address her own ties to lobbyists and their money.

Next week Sink will get a hand from Vice President Joe Biden at a fundraiser in Coral Gables. Among the hosts: Chris Korge, who's made a buck or two as a lobbyist.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 4:20pm]


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