TAMPA — The Salvation Army issued a statement Thursday in defense of Hillsborough County Commission Jim Norman's $95,000-a-year job with the charity, calling attacks on Norman "reprehensible."
The organization denied emphatically that Norman's work — which it said includes raising funds that come from the state and counties — can be considered lobbying.
His salary comes after more than 30 years of service, the agency said. "It goes without saying that he could make more money elsewhere."
The agency and its top Florida officer, Lt. Col. Vern Jewett, also defended Norman's use of a free car, saying his job includes statewide travel.
Norman is running for state senator in District 12, which includes northern Hillsborough and central Pasco counties. The St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday that Norman gets use of a free car from the Salvation Army and also collects a car allowance as part of his county commission job.
In a past interview, Norman said his $95,000 compensation includes the car; Jewett said Thursday that it is extra. Jewett also said that when Norman uses the car for personal trips, he reports the miles and then pays taxes on them. Norman, Jewett and others in the Salvation Army have described Norman's duties as varied, often helping ensure support and funding for local social service programs.
They describe his job as full-time, and Norman has said he does much of the work on weekends. "He has helped us serve countless thousands of persons in need over his many years of service," the statement said.
Jewett said he has not yet contemplated how Norman will avoid a conflict of interest, should he win a state Senate seat.