Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Pinellas County sheriff candidate Everett Rice tries to duck 'double-dipper' status

Everett Rice wants to be Pinellas County sheriff again, but he doesn't want another title that would come with victory.

He doesn't want to be known as a "double dipper," the term coined for public workers who retire only to return to the field, simultaneously drawing a taxpayer-paid pension and salary.

If elected, Rice, who spent two years in the Florida House after four terms as sheriff, would collect a $158,000 annual salary and a $107,000 annual state pension, plus health benefits.

Rice pledged to donate his pension to Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, a nonprofit network housing at-risk children, thereby "eliminating the double-dipping controversy."

"When some people hear that a public servant is going to be collecting a pension and a salary, it's striking a chord with them. It makes them mad," he said. "And I don't like being called a double dipper."

Those comments are a departure from interviews in which he defended the scenario, saying he earned the pension over a 34-year career. But his change of heart elicited cheers at a news conference and online. The outstanding question, however, is whether Rice would continue to be a double dipper.

PolitiFact Florida decided not to put Rice's statements to the Truth-O-Meter, in part because they were artfully worded. But we did think a fuller examination was warranted.

Rice's decision to donate his state pension is generous — and politically expedient. But technically, it doesn't really change his status as a double dipper. Taxpayers would continue to pay for his pension and salary. Rice, now an attorney, would just be changing where the pension goes, not to mention reaping a tax deduction for the donation.

A better solution, says Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a longtime critic of double dippers, would be to copy Gov. Rick Scott and reduce his annual salary to $0.12.

Rice balked at that during the news conference, saying, "For Fasano to say that by me not keeping my pension doesn't save the taxpayers money, that's just wrong. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches has the best track record of helping our neglected and unwanted children."

Fasano isn't wrong, for reasons we've already explained.

Either way, there's no chance Rice would return his pension to the state or salary back to the county, he told PolitiFact Florida. That would be like throwing money at a "black hole somewhere and doesn't do anybody any good."

"If accepting my pension payments and turning them over to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches still makes me a double dipper, then I'll accept it," he said. "I would challenge anyone else that's a double dipper to do the same thing."

Rice's Republican opponent, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, called the donation plan "an empty afterthought." But Rice points out he wouldn't be the first Pinellas sheriff to be a double dipper. Sheriff Jim Coats, who resigned this year, also collected a salary, retirement pay and a DROP payout from decades spent at the agency.

"I don't understand why Gualtieri has an issue with double dipping when his own boss did it for many years," Rice said.

University of South Florida tax professor Ryan Huston suggested Rice could save about $30,000 by writing off his hypothetical donation, though it's really a fluid "guesstimate" that doesn't account for a lot of other variables.

"I would never tell you to just give away money for tax benefits," Huston said.

Rice's decision may win over voters, but he would still be drawing two sizable checks from the state. That means he'll remain a double dipper.

Times staff writer Peter Jamison contributed to this report. PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election season. See video fact-checks at

Pinellas County sheriff candidate Everett Rice tries to duck 'double-dipper' status 06/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 9:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.