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Al-Arian case won't come back to state

The lawsuit filed by the University of South Florida against professor Sami Al-Arian will remain in federal court.

University lawyers had asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bucklew to send the case back to state court, where they filed the case. Al-Arian's lawyer argued that the case belonged in federal court because it involves First Amendment rights and a federal criminal offense of aiding terrorism.

Bucklew decided to keep the matter in federal court and set a hearing for Dec. 6 to hear Al-Arian's motion to dismiss the case.

Last year, USF placed Al-Arian, a tenured computer engineering professor, on paid leave from his $67,500-a-year job. USF's suit accuses Al-Arian of raising money for terrorist groups, bringing terrorists into the United States, and founding organizations that supported terrorism. Al-Arian has denied the allegations.

USF argues that before president Judy Genshaft decides what action to take against Al-Arian, the university needs a judge's ruling on whether firing him would violate his First Amendment rights.

Pinellas GOP leader to run for state chair

Pinellas Republican chairman Paul Bedinghaus said he will run for the position of state Republican chairman, which is becoming vacant because Al Cardenas has decided not to run again. Bedinghaus, 38, has been Pinellas GOP chairman for eight years, and is state party treasurer.

"I have set fundraising records for the county, and fundraising is an extremely important aspect of the job a chairman," Bedinghaus said. Although Gov. Jeb Bush has not endorsed a candidate, Bedinghaus said, "I believe I enjoy a good relationship with the governor."

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