Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rep. Rouson asked to explain actions in meeting with Democrats

TALLAHASSEE — If he wants to keep his job as the next leader for House Democrats, Rep. Darryl Rouson will have to defend himself in two weeks.

Current House Minority Leader Perry Thurston of Plantation said Rouson will have an opportunity to explain how and why he created his own fundraising committee, outside of party control, during a caucus meeting the week of Sept. 23, when all 44 House Democrats are in Tallahassee. Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, helped his case a bit by closing the committee in question early Monday.

"Stepping aside is Rouson's call to make," Thurston said. "If he doesn't step aside, he should be prepared to justify his actions to the members."

If Rouson doesn't step down, the caucus could decide in a majority vote to remove him.

Rouson didn't return phone calls. Thurston said "quite a few" House Democrats have requested Rouson resign his leadership post. On Saturday, a letter by Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, was publicly leaked asking Rouson to resign.

At issue was more than $100,000 collected by a fundraising committee that Rouson created last month to finance House races in 2014. When Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant discovered it last week, she fired two staffers who helped Rouson set it up.

"Obviously, it's quite troubling," said Joshua Karp, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.

At least one donor wanted to know who exactly they gave their money to.

During an Aug. 29 Orlando fundraiser, the Florida Hospital Association contributed $10,000 each to "Senate Victory" and "House Victory," the fundraising arms for the Florida Democratic Party's state legislative campaigns.

Ordinarily, the money is deposited with the party, said Richard Rasmussen, a lobbyist for the Florida Hospital Association, which gives also to Republicans.

But after news of Rouson's committee broke last week, Rasmussen checked with the Florida Democratic Party and discovered it didn't have the check he wrote for House Victory.

"They don't have a record of it," Rasmussen said. "I gave the check to Darryl. You'll have to ask him where it is."

Thurston said late Monday that he spoke with Rouson and that the money had been accounted for. Still, as of late Monday, the Florida Democratic Party had yet to receive it.

"That's an issue that Rep. Rouson will have to address," Thurston said.

There's nothing illegal about the so-called Affiliated Party Committee, or APC. Lawmakers approved their creation in 2010.

A week after Rouson filed papers to create the committee, his counterpart in the House, incoming Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, filed papers to create his own.

"The new entity, the House Republican Campaign Committee, is simply one more way for me to do the job you elected me to do," Crisafulli explained to House Republicans.

At the time they were created, Democrats opposed APCs, deriding them as less-than-transparent slush funds.

One of the lawmakers opposed to creating the committee was none other than Rouson.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (850) 224-7264 or mvansickler@tampabay.com.

Rep. Rouson asked to explain actions in meeting with Democrats 09/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Look for Tampa Bay filmmaker Joe Davison on 'Stranger Things'

    Human Interest

    For a year, Joe Davison kept a secret he wanted to tell so badly he feared it would burst from his mouth like an alien baby from John Hurt's chest.

    Joe Davison, at home in his dining room in Seminole, decked out for Halloween with “Stranger Things” decor, will appear in Season 2 of “Stranger Things.”
  2. Brooksville council begins study of law enforcement options

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The City Council has jumped headlong into a discussion about the future of the Brooksville Police Department — specifically whether to maintain it as is or change the way law enforcement service is provided in an effort to relieve the city's budget woes.

    Brooksville Mayor Robert Battista suggested that the City Council agree to promise residents that neither the city police nor fire departments would be disbanded without a voter referendum.
  3. U.S. home construction tumbles 4.7 percent in September

    Working Life

    WASHINGTON — Construction of new homes fell 4.7 percent in September, the biggest decline in six months, reflecting weakness in both single-family activity and apartment building.

    Construction of new homes fell 4.7 percent in September, the biggest decline in six months, reflecting weakness in both single-family activity and apartment building.  [Associated Press file photo]

  4. Show us your post-Irma brush piles

    Hurricanes

    Admit it. You're starting to get used to those Hurricane Irma brush piles, aren't you? They're part of the Florida landscape now, just like a stray palm frond in your yard, or the lizards scurrying across the sidewalk.

    A large pile of brush that came from a tree knocked down during Hurricane Irma stands along a St. Petersburg street. [RON BRACKETT | Times]
  5. ZZ Top cancels 2017 tour, including Ribfest date in November

    Blogs

    Bad news, ZZ Top fans. Once again, the Eliminator is heading into the garage for repairs.