Clearwater businessman L.J. Govoni announced last week that he will run for the Florida House partly because he thinks Kathleen Peters' congressional bid will take too much of her energy away from her role as a state representative.
What he didn't say is that he has ties to David Jolly, who also is seeking the Republican nomination for the Pinellas congressional vacancy created by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's death.
Govoni is president of Boston Capital Leasing, a spin-off of a Clearwater private equity company called Boston Finance Group. Jolly joined Boston Finance Group as a vice president in May 2012 and has earned more than $229,000 this year.
Govoni, 27, said the only thing the two businesses share is the name "Boston." However, the two list the same Clearwater address and the same registered agent. Also, Govoni's company lists Boston Finance Group under its "managing members/managers" in articles of incorporation.
Govoni, whose father also is affiliated with Boston Finance Group, flatly denies that his ties to Jolly have anything to do with his desire to seek Peters' seat.
He said he is running because of a "leadership void" that may result from Peters' dual roles as state representative and congressional candidate. "I think it would take a lot of her attention away from her state house duties," he said.
Jolly said he knows Govoni but said they have "zero coordination" between their campaigns.
John H. Malmrose, outside counsel to Boston Finance Group, said in an email that the company "has no connection" with Boston Capital Leasing.
He said Govoni was brought into Boston Finance to look into commercial leasing opportunities, and when the company decided not to pursue them, "Boston Capital Leasing was immediately spun off with BFG ending up with no ownership in the company."
Peters, Jolly and Mark Bircher are running for the Republican nomination in the Jan. 14 primary. The winner will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election.
If Peters were to lose, she would remain a state representative and could run for re-election next fall, possibly against Govoni. If Peters wins election to Congress, a special election could be scheduled for the state House seat she holds, but it likely would not happen before the 2014 legislative session starts March 4.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. Follow him on Twitter @ckruegertimes.