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Following lobbying controversy, voucher advocate Gilzean withdraws from FAMU board

Glenton Gilzean Jr. is a former member of the Pinellas County  School  Board.

Glenton Gilzean Jr. is a former member of the Pinellas County School Board.

TALLAHASSEE — A gubernatorial appointee to the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees withdrew his nomination on Wednesday, days after a Times/Herald story raised questions about his lobbying activities.

Former Pinellas School Board member Glen Gilzean is the vice president of advocacy and outreach at Step Up for Students, the nonprofit organization that manages Florida's school voucher program. Step Up is currently supporting a bill that would expand the program.

In November, the state opined that both Gilzean and Step Up for Students President Doug Tuthill, a former Pinellas teachers union chief, would need to register as lobbyists.

That presented a problem for Gilzean. State law prohibits university trustees from working as registered lobbyists.

Gilzean continued advocating for the bill. The Times/Herald confirmed that Gilzean had lobbied at least six lawmakers on the issue.

But he didn't submit his lobbyist registration until Friday. (He withdrew the paperwork Monday.)

On Tuesday, a Senate panel was supposed to confirm Gilzean's nomination to the FAMU Board of Trustees. That decision was delayed.

Gilzean declined to answer questions from a reporter.

In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday, Gilzean said he had "foreseen no conflict between participation on FAMU's board and my work as vice president of advocacy and outreach for the nonprofit Step Up For Students."

"But as the legislature this year considers a bill strengthening the Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income students, a question has been raised about whether I should be formally registered as a lobbyist in order to advocate on behalf of these children," he said.

Gilzean said he had decided to "err on the side of caution and to register, which, according to statute, prevents me from serving as a trustee."

The FAMU appointment wasn't the first time Scott named Gilzean to a public board. In 2012, the governor tapped Gilzean to fill a vacant seat on the Pinellas County School Board. Gilzean lost his bid for re-election a few months later.

Times/Herald staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.

Following lobbying controversy, voucher advocate Gilzean withdraws from FAMU board 03/19/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:57pm]
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