Thursday, August 16, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mailer slams GOP candidate for posing with a smiling Obama. But he’s a wax Obama.

A lesson for politicians: Be careful where you stand.

It comes from an anonymous committee that's sending mailers attacking Todd Marks in his Republican primary race against Aakash Patel in the race for Hillsborough County Commission District 7.

Marks has charged that Patel is not a "true Republican" or conservative.

In an apparent response, the mailer urges voters, "Just say no (to) Todd 'Marijuana' Mark," and his "liberal friends."

Marks previously worked with Cresco Labs, a national medical marijuana company, to set up shop in Florida, but said Cresco abandoned the effort because of bureaucratic hurdles.

The mailer shows a photo of Marks with Charlie Crist, now a Democratic Congress member but a Republican governor when it was taken.

There's also a photo of Marks with someone the mailer calls "Barrack Obama."

That would be Barack Obama, but if you look closely, you can tell it's actually a wax figure.

When he stopped laughing, Marks told the Tampa Bay Times he had posted the photo on his Facebook page after a visit to a Las Vegas wax museum, and denied he's friends with Obama — in wax or in the flesh.

He called the mailer "dirty Miami politics brought to Hillsborough," and blamed former state Rep. Ralph Arza, R-Hialeah, a political and charter school consultant who works for Patel's campaign. Arza left the House in 2006 after a scandal over racial slurs.

Arza and Patel both denied knowing anything about the shadowy committee — the Florida Association for the Public Trust — or its officers, all from Miami. None of them could be reached. The committee hasn't reported any contributions or expenditures.

Patel added, however, "What I'm hearing from voters is that medical marijuana doesn't represent conservative Republican values. They should know that Todd Marks is promoting and profiting from it."

Marks said that's not true because the effort never got off the ground.

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