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Grand jury subpoenas employment records of state Sen. Jim Norman's aide

TALLAHASSEE — A federal grand jury in Tampa last month issued a subpoena for employment records of the legislative aide to state Sen. Jim Norman.

The subpoena was delivered in early May to David Bishop, communications director for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, directing him to provide documents to an Internal Revenue Service agent for a hearing on May 18.

The subpoena, signed by U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill, asks for 2010 records only.

It's unclear why federal officials want information on Ben Kelly, who has been a close associate of Norman's since the freshman senator's days on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Norman and Kelly did not return calls for comment.

Federal investigators are still looking into Norman's financial relationship with Ralph Hughes, a now-deceased Hillsborough County businessman who gave Norman and his wife $500,000 to buy a lakefront vacation home in Arkansas when Norman was a county commissioner.

Kelly began working as Norman's commission aide in 1996, earning $24,960 year, according to county personnel records. He was making $71,928 a year when he left the county in November 2010 to join Norman in Tallahassee. Kelly earns $63,000 annually as Norman's Senate aide.

Kelly worked on Norman's campaigns for county commission, and served as campaign treasurer for Norman's Senate run.

Kelly and his wife, Heather, were paid $31,480 for work on Norman's Senate campaign from August 2008 through October 2010, according to Florida Division of Elections records.

A spokesperson for Hillsborough County managing county attorney Mary Helen Farris declined to say if a subpoena had also been issued for Kelly's county employment records.

"As long as the case is an active criminal case we're not at liberty to tell you if we have received one or not received one," said spokeswoman DeBora Mincey. "If the case is no longer active and it's been verified that it has been closed then it will be subject to disclosure."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Grand jury subpoenas employment records of state Sen. Jim Norman's aide 06/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:55am]

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