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Buddy Johnson's former chiefs of staff donate to Phyllis Busansky's campaign

TAMPA — Democrat Phyllis Busansky netted a contribution from a second former chief of staff for Buddy Johnson, her Republican rival in the race for supervisor of elections.

Johnson is seeking re-election after winning the office in 2004. Dan Nolan, who served as his top deputy for nearly a year of his early tenure, gave Busansky a check for $250 earlier this month.

"Well, I think their record kind of speaks for itself," said Nolan, a former Central Command Army colonel who now runs his own business. "Phyllis has got a record of public service and support in the community. Buddy hasn't got much of a record, and his judgment has demonstrated itself."

Nolan joins lawyer Helene Marks, who also was Johnson's chief of staff for a little more than a year, and has now twice contributed to the Busansky campaign.

In addition to the money raised, Busansky lent her campaign another $20,000 and spent nearly $70,000 during the period, much of it on mailers. She said she is right on budget.

She picked up some contributions from some well-known folks, including $500 from businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani, and $250 from former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

Busansky continued her fund-raising edge in an effort to unseat Johnson. She took in $12,700 in the reporting period ended Friday, covering the past three weeks, to make her total raised so far about $145,000.

Johnson raised $11,400, but overall he has raised less than half of what the Busansky campaign has. He has spent just less than $45,000 so far.

He could not be reached Friday for comment. Johnson has said he has been concentrating on ensuring a smooth election as the county uses its third different voting machine system in as many presidential election cycles.

He has been under close scrutiny, facing criticism in the past for losing ballots, moving polling places without notifying voters and failing to pay personal property taxes on time.

In recent months, he has faced criticism from Busansky and some voters who have accused him of using federal tax dollars meant for educating voters about the new voting machines to instead promote himself.

He has said the mailings were standard voter information efforts in a transition period.

Busansky sounded that theme again in discussing her campaign contributions.

"We're invested in winning this campaign," said Busansky, speaking of her own contribution. "I don't get taxpayer dollars."

Bill Varian can be reached at varian @sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

Buddy Johnson's former chiefs of staff donate to Phyllis Busansky's campaign 10/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 2:07pm]
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