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The outrages never end with Kevin White

Here comes what could be the final outrage in the case of a politician who, according to a jury, sexually harassed his young aide: In the end, the six-figure tab might not cost Hills­borough County Commissioner Kevin White a dime.

You want outrage? Since the embarrassing federal jury verdict against him, White has:

1. Deflected blame and responsibility and, though he said he planned to pony up something eventually, has thus far left taxpayers with the tab.

2. Said the whole mess is the county's fault, misquoting the jury (more on that in a minute) and waving around new county policies as if none of this would have happened had he only been able to consult, say, Rule 237.3(b): Commissioners showing up at the hotel rooms of aides and begging/whining to share their bed is strictly forbidden.

3. Had political supporters talking him up for his likely re-election next year.

Outraged yet?

In August, a federal jury found that White sexually discriminated against his 22-year-old aide Alyssa Ogden, who testified her boss pursued her relentlessly and finally fired her for saying no. The jury, which also held the county at fault, awarded $75,000 to Ogden, with the overall legal tab amounting to nearly half a million bucks.

The latest outrage: An insurance policy the county has for legal expenses has a $350,000 deductible. Since the county has filed its claim, the cost of that deductible may fall to taxpayers, but the policy could also cover White's expenses. And White could pay nothing.

Which may be exactly what he thinks he owes.

Apparently referring to a St. Petersburg Times post-trial interview with a juror, White said the jury "said that we want to send the county a message, not Commissioner White, not, Commissioner White, we found you did anything inappropriate or we found that there were any inappropriate acts."

Uh, point of order: The juror said White was his own worst witness and his defense not believable. Once the jury learned White previously falsified campaign reports, "we really couldn't believe a word this guy said."

I called that juror, John Shiver of Davenport, to ask about the commissioner's analysis of what was in the jury's collective head. Yes, indeed, Shiver told me, jurors wanted the county to know "they shouldn't give a county commissioner that kind of power to hire and fire whoever they want." The jury also was concerned about how the county handled Ogden's initial complaint.

But did the jury believe the commissioner did what his aide claimed? "I had no doubt," Shiver said.

Should White pay up, along with the county? "He should be putting money out of his own pocket," said the juror who heard the evidence.

Hillsborough commissioners have rightly owned up to the county's role as co-defendant, voted to pay Ogden and initially decided not to sue White to make him pay, too.

But you know what? With this latest revelation that he may have to pay nothing, enough already. If ultimately he doesn't contribute, sue him, if only to restore faith in government gone wrong.

When I told the juror about White running strong for re-election, he paused. "If people are really going to re-elect this dude, they get what they've got coming, I guess," he said.

One word for that: outrageous.

The outrages never end with Kevin White 11/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 9:12pm]
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