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Radio ad blasts Jeff Brandes on ethics

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

An activist group is now running a radio ad in the Tampa Bay area against St. Petersburg-based state Senator Jeff Brandes that questions his ethics.

The ad from Florida Strong is called “Let’s Make a (corrupt) Deal.” It attacks the Pinellas Republican for receiving campaign contributions from companies like Duke Energy and insurance lobbyists, and then claims that he voted on issues on behalf of those companies at taxpayers expense.

It’s part of the advocacy group’s campaign for stronger ethics reform legislation, called “Got Ethics?” and calls on him to back stronger ethics reform legislation.

“Now, we’ll get even more corruption, and Brandes will get more money flowing into his campaign, thanks to Tallahassee lobbyists and special interest groups,” the narrator concludes in the sixty-second ad, before giving out the legislator’s district phone number, advocating that listeners contact him to support ethics reform.

Brandes dismisses the ad, criticizing Florida Strong.

“There is a special irony that a shadowy special interest group is attacking me on the issue of transparency,” he told Florida Politics on Wednesday. “This is just another faceless group using wildly inaccurate claims for their election agenda.”

The Florida Legislature had several proposals that addressed public corruption this session, and a bill (HB 7071) sponsored by Melbourne Republicans Ritch Workman in the House and Destin’s Don Gaetz in the Senate did pass both houses of the Legislature. That bill expands the definition of public servant to include those who contract with the government to perform a public function. It also removes the requirement that state prosecutors prove that those accused of fraud, bid rigging, bid tampering or bribery acted “corruptly” or with “corrupt intent.” Instead, prosecutors only have to prove they acted “knowingly and intentionally,” a lessor burden of proof.

Another bill filed by Gaetz that would have required city officials in Florida to file the full financial disclosure form as constitutional officers are required to do, applied lobby registration requirements to special districts and prohibited members of the Enterprise Florida Board from lobbying the agency for two years after they leave the Board failed to become law.

The ad will run this week in the Tampa Bay area market on WFLA 970  and WRBQ will run this week, “with potential to extend,” according to Charly Strong, Florida Strong’s executive director.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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