Green-business consultant Michael Ciftci has filed to run for the citywide District 3 Tampa City Council seat. Ciftci, 27, is founder of the nonprofit group United for a Sustainable America, which advocates environmentally friendly business initiatives.
He previously worked for the John McCain presidential campaign and as government affairs director for Phillips Development, the company headed by Republican activist Don Phillips. More recently, though, he was spotted at a get-out-the-vote rally for Democrat Alex Sink the day before she lost her run for governor.
Ciftci also got caught up with the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, an organization whose leader, a man who calls himself Bobby Thompson, has been indicted in Ohio on charges of corruption, theft and money laundering. A St. Petersburg Times investigation revealed that the association, which reported annual income of $22 million and tens of thousands of members, appears to consist only of Thompson.
Money collected by the association came from donors, who were told it would benefit veterans. It was directed to political campaigns instead, the Times investigation found. Ciftci said earlier this year that he met Thompson at a 2008 Tampa fundraiser for McCain. Then late last year, Thompson asked for some recruits to attend some political events on behalf of the Navy Veterans. Ciftci said he gave Thompson the names of two friends — a former roommate and a co-worker. Photos of the three men ended up on a Navy Veterans Association website. Ciftci has said he was duped by Thompson and didn't know there were questions about the organization.