Thursday, May 24, 2018
Politics

Legal questions raised about flier against Rep. Rachel Burgin's opponent Tom Lee

TAMPA — A Valrico attorney is planning to file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission against state Rep. Rachel Burgin and the committee responsible for an attack mailer aimed at her state Senate opponent, Tom Lee.

Residents in east Hillsborough's Senate District 24 recently received a flier produced by the American People Committee that linked Lee with Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner, who is embroiled in a porn scandal.

Burgin is accused of directing donations to the committee. She has denied the allegations.

Paul Phillips wants the state to sort out the conflicting stories.

"It appears there may be legal issues with the mailer and how the funds were solicited," Phillips said Saturday. "There are questions there that need to be answered."

Phillips said he is basing his complaint on a Miami Herald report in which lobbyist David Ramba said he was told by Burgin to direct his $10,000 donation to Jack Cory, a lobbyist connected to the American People Committee.

Burgin told the Herald that she identified three people to whom Ramba could choose to send his contribution, Cory being one of them.

On Saturday, Burgin said she is not concerned about the complaint.

"The statements originally made were inaccurate to begin with," she said. "You can't take an ethics complaint off a very biased media report."

Also in question is the legality of the American People Committee, a committee of continuous existence, sending mailers when it is not approved for that kind of activity, Phillips said.

Cory did not return phone calls Saturday seeking comment.

Burgin's opponent, Lee, said he is not taking a stand on whether either party is in the wrong.

"There is plenty of time to see if laws have been broken here and if so, to set the record straight," he said.

This is not the first time Phillips, who is a former Hillsborough Republican Party treasurer and has taught a class on philosophy and ethics at St. Petersburg College, has filed an ethics complaint.

Phillips is one of several people who filed a complaint against former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman for failing to disclose a $500,000 gift to his wife from a local businessman.

Earlier this year, Norman pleaded guilty to the Florida Commission on Ethics on the charge.

Phillips said the complaint against Burgin is not personal. Instead, he said he feels he has a responsibility to file ethics complaints when he sees something that may not be right.

"I wish I could file more," Phillips said. "Unfortunately, there are loopholes and things get done all the time in campaign finance that are less than ethical. They may be legal but not ethical."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2442.

Comments
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Updated: 7 hours ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18