Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What was Sen. Mike Bennett watching on laptop during floor debate?

TALLAHASSEE — During debate Thursday, a new Capitol Web outfit called the Sunshine State News captured video images of Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, looking at what appeared to be a Girls-Gone-Wild-type of photo on his computer.

The image of the scantily attired beach-babe foursome was up for about four seconds before Bennett closed it, according to the SSN video.

Bennett said the image "popped up" when he clicked an e-mail sent from an old friend to his private account. He said he closed it as quickly as possible, but it wasn't "porn" as SSN reports.

"I didn't know it was in there. As soon as I realized what it was, I shut it," Bennett said. "I don't know how many girls there were, what they looked like or what they were wearing. I have no idea what the picture looked like because when I saw what it was, I closed it.

''I had (Sen.) Eleanor Sobel behind me on one side and Sen. Frederica Wilson on the other side. On the side of me is (Sen.) Nancy Detert, who has expressed her dislike for me for a long time. And then there's the Democrat, Dan Gelber, who's running for attorney general. And we were all talking about these issues.

''Are you out of your mind? There is no way that anybody would knowingly open up something like this in that situation."

In the background of the video, Gelber's voice says: "It disrespects too many women in the state of Florida." He's talking about a bill. Not the picture.

The Sunshine State News isn't mainstream media, has unknown investors behind it and told St. Petersburg Times reporter Lucy Morgan a few months ago it would "emphasize business and politics."

SSN wanted to see Bennett's e-mails, but he and the Senate declined, saying personal e-mail information isn't public record.

Bennett said the episode shows the dangers of the Internet. He said he's sure someone will use this against him politically in a "misleading'' way.

"Do you know what's on every e-mail before you open it? None of us do," he said. "This could happen to anyone."

On Tuesday, Bennett released a statement on the incident:

"Last week, during final deliberations on the Senate floor to fulfill my sworn duty to do the people's business, I opened e-mails sent to me and discovered one disturbing and offensive transmission that I immediately moved to the trash.

"Unfortunately, this reality was not enough to dissuade an internet-based reporter from taking an innocent act — opening e-mail — and sensationalizing it into something it never was in an attempt to smear my reputation. As for the reporter, his refusal to let the facts get in the way of a good story speaks for itself.

"Anyone who has ever used e-mail understands that you don't control all incoming messages, and that subject lines often are used to mislead people into opening messages that defy decency. This past week, I found out just how it feels when you're on the other side of one."

See the video

Watch the Sunshine State News report on Sen. Mike Bennett at

What was Sen. Mike Bennett watching on laptop during floor debate? 05/03/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:16am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  2. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida inspired new group focused on improving how elections are run


    A new group run by two lawyers and veteran Democratic operatives specializing in voter protection efforts is launching a pilot program in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to work with local elections officials to improve the voting process. Access Democracy, run by …

    Access Democracy wants to improve voter participation and how elections are run
  4. Super Nintendo is coming back to stores, and there's even a new (old) game


    If the overwhelming success of last year's NES Classic is any indication, you may want to get your hands on Nintendo's newly-announced Super NES Classic as soon as it becomes available this fall.

    Super Nintendo plans to release the Super NES Classic Edition.
  5. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)


    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk captained the only Lightning team to win the Stanley Cup.