Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wrong place for politics

Rep. Rick Kriseman has complained to his fellow Democrats.

Rep. Rick Kriseman has complained to his fellow Democrats.

ST. PETERSBURG — A state legislator told a local congressional candidate "you should be ashamed of yourself" for campaigning at non-political community meetings about the toxic plume around Raytheon.

State Rep. Rick Kriseman wrote a scathing letter last week to fellow Democrat Samm Simpson, denouncing her campaign's actions at Raytheon meetings. He also sent the letter to Simpson's opponent Max Linn, whose tactics he called "as offensive and reprehensible."

Linn and Simpson, both Democrats, are hoping to unseat longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

"I write this letter with some trepidation as I fear that in doing so I am giving unintended significance and validity to your campaign," Kriseman wrote.

Simpson, 54, said the missive was "vitriolic" and based on misinformation. She acknowledged volunteers from her campaign behaved inappropriately, however.

"I felt it was cruel," Simpson said. "I'm just trying to help people. That's not an easy thing to do in this world."

Contamination surrounding Raytheon, a defense technology company, was found to have tainted the ground water under Azalea Park and surrounding areas in 1999. The company has been holding meetings to address the issue.

Kriseman chastised Simpson for taking advantage of a crowd of concerned voters. He said her campaign promoted itself by sign-waving, distributing campaign literature and asking questions designed to reflect favorably on its candidate.

"Do you not understand that for every second you or one of your supporters is at the microphone politicking, an actual resident of the area is being silenced? Have you no respect for these people?" he wrote.

Kriseman, who is running for re-election, was unavailable for comment.

Simpson said she never identified herself as a candidate or handed out literature. At one meeting, a volunteer was waving a sign, but she thought it was inappropriate and asked the volunteer to stop, after a Kriseman aide discussed it with her.

At two meetings her volunteer coordinator Mike Fox asked about the involvement of the District 10 incumbent, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. In one instance, he asked where Young was.

Simpson said she agreed the questions were inappropriate.

Linn, another Democrat running for Young's seat, was sent a copy of the letter. Simpson said Linn introduced himself at a recent meeting and started making a speech until Sen. Bill Nelson stopped him. He also put brochures on people's windshields, she said.

Dominick Griesi, president of the Azalea Neighborhood Association, said members told him they agreed with Kriseman that the candidates' behavior was opportunistic.

But he also said he notified Simpson about the meeting because he thought the district's representative should be informed on the issue.

"If you're just coming to get your name in the paper, as far as I'm concerned they can just stay home," Griesi said. "I don't care if the president comes, I feel the same way."

Stephanie Garry can be reached at (717) 892-2374 or

Wrong place for politics 07/20/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Woman dead in St. Petersburg shooting


    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman died in a shooting Saturday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  2. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with a different look to things


    The Rays wrap up their four-game series with the Orioles today and their lineup has a different look, with C Wilson Ramos, OF Steven Souza Jr. and 3B Evan Longoria all getting the day off.

    The Rays are starting their All-Star, RHP Chris Archer, who needs wins in his final two outings to even his record, going …

  3. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  4. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  5. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.