Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Salvation Army defends state Senate candidate Jim Norman

TAMPA — Until now, Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman has called himself a "troubleshooter" for the Salvation Army. He said his $95,000 compensation included a company car.

On Thursday, the charity said Norman's job involves public relations and fundraising. And the agency's top Florida officer said the car is in addition to the salary.

Norman is "not a political lobbyist" the Salvation Army said, and he is not registered as one. His official job title: state community liaison.

But Norman's opponent in state Senate District 12 race, state Rep. Kevin Ambler, has said that Norman lobbied him on behalf of the Salvation Army.

In issuing the statement, the Salvation Army seemed to be distancing itself from an especially bitter primary election. With no Democratic opponent, the winner on Aug. 24 will likely replace the term-limited Victor Crist in the Senate.

To critics who say Norman's $95,000 is a lot of money for charity work, the agency said: "He has worked for us full time for over 30 years in a professional position. … It goes without saying that he could make more money elsewhere."

Norman did not return phone calls seeking comment.

But his supervisor, Vern Jewett, agreed with his use of the term "troubleshooter."

He said that, among other things, Norman works with local Salvation Army advisory boards on funding issues.

He described one such situation in Pinellas County, where a board member needed advice about Children's Village, a center for foster children; and Sallie House, an emergency child care facility.

"Across the state, we have millions and millions of dollars in contracts with various levels of government agencies," Jewett said. "On occasion, we use (Norman's) experience outside the Army. It makes him aware of how government works."

The situation that Ambler described also involved state funding for two facilities in St. Petersburg.

Jewett could not estimate how much money Norman has brought into the agency, or protected it from losing.

But, he said, "probably the majority of our contracts are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he has been helpful in raising millions of dollars."

Jewett said it is reprehensible that the campaign has opened Norman up to criticism.

"I find it disingenuous for political forces to say he is lobbying for the Salvation Army when he is seeking to raise funds for the Salvation Army," he said.

He explained the difference this way: A lobbyist has a political agenda, and the relationship involves an exchange of favors.

There is no such exchange where Norman is concerned, he said, and "the Salvation Army is nonpolitical."

Jewett also defended the use of a company car, saying Norman does so much traveling for the organization that it makes more sense than paying his mileage.

Norman can use the car for personal trips, Jewett said, but he must report those miles and then pay for them through his income tax.

On Thursday, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Norman also takes a $233 monthly car allowance from the county. It was as high as $600 before budget cuts.

"I think, to some extent your newspaper has been victimizing us," Jewett said. "I think there's an agenda you're pursuing. It's more mischaracterization than truth."

He acknowledged that, if Norman wins the Senate seat, he could face a conflict of interest because the Legislature can influence Salvation Army programs and funding.

And his need to spend several months a year in Tallahassee might affect his status as a full-time employee.

If Norman were to win the seat representing northern Hills­borough and central Pasco counties, he said, "I would sit down and review the issues."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 624-2739 or [email protected]

Salvation Army defends state Senate candidate Jim Norman 08/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 8:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.