Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos faces tough questions in Tampa

TAMPA — Senate President Mike Haridopolos says he has been keeping a busy schedule lately, spending as many as six days a week speaking to people across Florida about the Legislature's accomplishments.

And that's what he started to talk about Friday as the lunch guest of the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa.

But then came the questions. Though the group bills itself on its website as "Hillsborough County's premier bipartisan political club," Haridopolos, a Republican from Merritt Island running for the U.S. Senate, said the queries left him feeling like most of the 72 in attendance were "a little left of center, or far left of center."

But that's okay. "I'm glad they asked questions," he said.

Perhaps the most pointed question came from club member William Frye, who asked Haridopolos about his controversial deal with Brevard Community College, in which he was paid $152,000 to write a book, and about his failure to accurately disclose his finances on state ethics forms.

Will you pay the money back? Frye asked.

Haridopolos responded that he met all of his obligations under a four-year contract with the college, where he taught for many years. He didn't say he would return the money, but said all proceeds from the sale of the book, Florida History & Legislative Processes, go back to the college.

As for the finance disclosure issue, for which he was admonished by his own Senate, he told the Tiger Bay group, "I made a mistake filling out the forms." But he said as soon as the mistakes were brought to his attention he dealt with them promptly.

Other questions were wide ranging. Would he support lifting the travel ban on Cuba? He would not. What did he think about cuts to education? They were among the most difficult, but they were necessary to help address a nearly $4 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes, he said.

Afterward, Haridopolos said the tough questions might be a sign that some in attendance are worried about Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson holding onto his seat in 2012. Haridopolos is among the Republicans hoping to replace Nelson.

Tiger Bay will get their crack at another Republican U.S. Senate candidate, George LeMieux, on July 15.

Richard Martin can be reached at or (813) 226-3322.

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos faces tough questions in Tampa 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 11:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After Rick Scott veto, Tarpon Springs renews push for money to dredge Anclote River

    Local Government

    In a pocket formed at the end of a branch of the Anclote River, Kevin Meisman has seen the size of the boats coming by his family's business get smaller.

    Kevin Meisman, 37, looks out from the dock of his family’s business, Quality T-Tops & Boat Accessories, in Tarpon Springs. Meisman says that, without dredging along the Anclote River, the number of boats he can service is limited.
  2. Senator Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa
  3. Video: How to make a Gin and Jam cocktail

    Bars & Spirits

    Looking for an easy cocktail to make at home this summer? Jam is a simple, low-key way to get the job done.

  4. Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]
  5. PSTA foresees no cutbacks in bus service through 2021


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority budget unveiled the first look at next year's budget on Wednesday and the agency said it does not project any cuts to bus service through 2021.

    A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus leaves the terminal at  3180 Central Ave. in St Petersburg in 2014. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]