Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ethics complaint filed against state Senate candidate Jim Norman

TAMPA — A Valrico attorney said Friday he filed a complaint with the Florida Division on Ethics against state Senate candidate Jim Norman.

Paul Phillips' complaint, which might not be investigated until after Tuesday's primary, alleges Norman failed to reveal on financial disclosure forms his ownership of two boats. Norman's name is listed on the title of boats that were part of a $435,000 cash purchase of a lakefront home in Arkansas by Norman's wife, Mearline.

Phillips offered no proof of his claims against Norman. "I have more than a reasonable belief," he said. "If you've got nothing to hide, put it forth."

Norman, a Republican Hillsborough County commissioner for 18 years, has declined to explain how his wife paid for the home, saying only that she has investors.

The complaint filed Thursday also alleges that the money for the house came from Ralph Hughes, the late owner of a Seffner precast concrete company, who benefitted over the years from Norman's pro-development commission votes. Hughes, through his businesses, was a frequent contributor to Norman's campaigns.

After Hughes died in 2008, Norman advocated naming the county's Moral Courage Award in his honor. Hughes' name was removed from the award less than a year later in light of an IRS complaint that said Hughes died owing the government millions.

Norman will face state Rep. Kevin Ambler in the primary to represent District 12 in north Hillsborough and central Pasco. Norman would not comment, but a statement from his campaign called the complaint "gutter politics" by his opponent.

"These outlandish accusations have no merit and it is unfortunate that he has resorted to the desperate tactics," it said.

Ambler could not be reached for comment, but also called Norman desperate in a Facebook post. "My opponent and the shadowy special interest groups that are supporting him are spreading misleading and false statements about my conservative Republican voting record," he wrote.

Phillips' complaint also alleges that Norman is a lobbyist for the Salvation Army but has not registered as required by law. Phillips said he filed the complaint because of cronyism in local political circles. "I'm just tired of it," he added.

Kaye Starling, complaint coordinator for the ethics commission, would not confirm the agency had received the documents. Complaints are confidential until the commission hears them, or the parties agree to make them public. It does not accept complaints against a candidate within five days of an election. It's unclear if Phillips met that deadline. He said if the commission rejects it, he'll file it again.

Times staff writer Marlene Sokol contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Ethics complaint filed against state Senate candidate Jim Norman 08/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 12:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]