Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FBI collects oaths of office of former Florida Sen. Mandy Dawson

TALLAHASSEE — As part of a federal inquiry into former state Sen. Mandy Dawson, an FBI investigator this week collected the Fort Lauderdale Democrat's oaths of office she signed in 2002 and 2004.

The investigation stems from the criminal fraud investigation into convicted GOP fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn, a Hollywood ophthalmologist who testified in federal court Dec. 9 that he funneled $82,000 to the senator through one of her aides.

On Wednesday, Miami FBI agent Keith Yarka requested the oaths of office that Dawson made during the period of time that Mendelsohn alleged he paid her off. In the oath, a senator promises to uphold the state and federal constitutions and to "well and faithfully perform the duties of state senator."

The oath can be used in a criminal case for a simple reason: It's court proof that Dawson was a state senator and therefore deprived citizens of honest services if she took or solicited a bribe, said Marcos Jimenez, South Florida's former U.S. Attorney.

"Generally, when you get that request from the FBI, it's not a good sign," Jimenez said. "The FBI is trying to prove you're a public official, and they could be gathering evidence to see whether or not you abused your position as a public servant."

The FBI will neither confirm nor deny active investigations.

Dawson couldn't be reached for comment. Last year, she screamed at a Miami Herald reporter who tracked her down at her parents' Daytona Beach home. Before that, she had told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that she took no bribe money.

A conviction would cap a sad career for Dawson in the Legislature.

In 2005, she was reprimanded by the full Senate for asking lobbyists to help cover the $2,500 cost for her to travel to South Africa. Her letter, on official Senate stationery, asked lobbyists to disguise their contributions by sending the money to the state's Legislative Black Caucus.

In 2002, Dawson was charged with altering a painkiller prescription. In 2000, she was chastised by the Senate president at the time for excessive absences, which Dawson blamed on a new fitness program.

In her final years in office, Dawson was handed a plum assignment in 2007 by then-Senate President Ken Pruitt: chairwoman of the Health Policy Committee, which handled bills dear to Mendelsohn, a major fundraiser involved in health legislation.

Mendelsohn, charged with fraud and accused of ripping off donors to his political committees, pleaded guilty and testified that Dawson insisted he hire her aide, Venica Blakely, for political work.

"She made this request repeatedly,'' Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn surprised the judge with his portrayal of a pay-to-play world of greedy lawmakers and lobbyists who take care of each other for financial and political gain. He said it's common practice for legislators to ask special interests to hire friends or family. Failure to take up a lawmaker's cause would produce a predictable effect.

"You're toast," he said.

FBI collects oaths of office of former Florida Sen. Mandy Dawson 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.