Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After Senate candidates forum, Mack pins financial difficulties on his divorce

TALLAHASSEE — U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack explained Sunday for the first time why he spent more than he earned at times, pinning financial problems on his divorce.

"I think it's ridiculous the fact that the issue has even come up that way," Mack, the Republican front-runner who has called for fiscal austerity during his campaign, said after a candidates' forum. "Everyone knows that divorce is difficult."

Even though his divorce certainly contributed to his financial problems, it does not account for all the troubles he was having.

In 2004, for instance, he didn't have enough money to pay his federal income taxes and borrowed the money from his father. He didn't file for divorce until August 2005 — months after tax-filing season — when his then-wife, Ann McGillicuddy, was on vacation in Fort Lauderdale.

Mack, elected to Congress in 2004, said he could not recall how much he borrowed from his father, former Senator-turned-lobbyist Connie Mack III.

"But look, did I borrow money from my father? Yeah, but if anybody has been through a divorce they recognize that it's difficult, it's hard, and it takes a while to get your financial house back in order," he said.

Three months after filing for divorce, Mack submitted a financial affidavit to the court that indicated he was spending nearly $2,300 more than he netted each month. Even without all of the incidentals of his wife — a stay-at-home mother of two small children — Mack was still over-spending by about $655 monthly, the affidavit indicates.

Mack made the statements after a forum hosted by the Florida Federation of Republican Women. Organizers did not allow for a debate, opting instead for a moderator and audience members to ask similar questions of each candidate for about 30 minutes as opponents waited in another room.

It was Mack's first appearance at an event with the other GOP candidates, former Sen. George LeMieux and retired U.S. Army Reserve Col. Mike McCalister.

The winner of the Republican primary will run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson this fall.

Mack and McCalister stayed away from personal attacks, though LeMieux criticized Mack for using earmarks and opposing an Arizona-style immigration law.

The candidates were asked about bailouts, how they would avoid an economic crisis akin to Greece, senators whom they admire and the United Nations. The Republican women's group planned to cast a straw poll Sunday, with results announced today.

No one in the audience asked Mack about his finances, nor the court records from his early 20s showing he was involved in two road-rage incidents, a confrontation with a police officer who arrested him at a Jacksonville nightclub and a brawl at an Atlanta bar with a pro baseball player who beat him up.

Mack told reporters he learned a lot from the experiences.

"Look, I made some mistakes when I was younger. I've admitted that," he said. "Someone asked me about the fight, but again, I said that one thing that I regret is that I didn't win. I mean this guy beat me up all over the place."

LeMieux, Mack's main Republican rival, said he's still reviewing the court documents about the brawls and, later, the financial difficulties.

"Character counts," LeMieux said, "and some of these things are not 20 years ago, some of them are while he was in Congress."

One woman asked McCalister to explain "the confusion" between his active and reserve service in the military, which was highlighted by a group of retired military officers who complained he padded his service record.

"I was never confused," he said, to laughs. "I had a total of 33 (years). I was kind of a Cold War soldier, basically."

In a move he thinks would speed up the economic recovery, LeMieux called on legislators to pass an administrative foreclosure process — an alternative to the judicial process, outlined in HB 213 — that would clear Florida's backlog of court cases.

One woman asked LeMieux to convince the room he was not "a fellow moderate" of former Gov. Charlie Crist, reviled by Republicans for leaving the party in his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid against Marco Rubio.

Crist appointed LeMieux, his former chief of staff and top political adviser, to fill the vacant seat of Sen. Mel Martinez for 16 months. LeMieux drew enthusiastic applause for his response.

"A lot of us in this room, nearly all of us, supported the former governor one time or another. He disappointed all of us," LeMieux said. "That's not who I am."

Miami Herald staff writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report.

After Senate candidates forum, Mack pins financial difficulties on his divorce 02/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 7:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bill Clinton coming to Miami Beach on Saturday for mayors' convention


    From our friends at the Miami Herald:

    Former President Bill Clinton gives the opening address to kick off a meeting of International Aid Groups at the InterAction Forum 2017 at the Washington Convention Center on June 20.
  2. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault


    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  3. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  4. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy


    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.