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A proponent of sin taxes, Matt Gaetz nabs checks from South Florida strip clubs

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Politicians frequently humble-brag about campaign contributions, invoking “grassroots support” or furiously beating chests over the lack of special interest cash.

Republican state Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is seeking the Northwest Florida Senate district currently held by his father, Don Gaetz, took in two donations earlier this year that certainly could be seen as “interesting.”

Both are raising questions, if not eyebrows (and a few g-strings).

According to the state Division of Elections, Gaetz received the checks — on the same day —  from businesses operating strip clubs in Miami-Dade County.

On March 2, Gaetz’s campaign accepted $1,000 from a corporation named Miami Gardens Square One, Inc., and a $500 check from Kenja II, an organization based out of Lakewood, Colo.

According to state licensing records, Kenja does business as PT’s Showclub, located at 7565 W. 20 Avenue in Hialeah. Miami Gardens Square runs Tootsies, a club at 150 NW 183 Street in North Miami Beach.

What makes these donations most intriguing is that Gatez, as chair of the House Finance and Tax Committee, suggested during a committee workshop in February the state impose a “sin tax” of $10 per person for each visit — as well as publishing customer names.

It would be a “good way to discourage people” from frequenting strip clubs and other adult businesses, he was reported saying.

Gaetz’s comments came just about a month before the donations to his Senate campaign, both from companies doing business on the other side of the state and hundreds of miles from the North Florida district he expects to represent.

What’s more, the Republican Party of Florida, in the contentious gubernatorial race of 2014, had lambasted Democrat Charlie Crist for the same thing.

“These businesses are degrading to women and Charlie’s refusal to return the money is shameful,” said then-RPOF Chair Leslie Dougher, who herself is now running for a seat in the state House.

Strip clubs, while popular in Florida, do not represent interests and priorities of the average North Florida conservative, the people Gaetz will undoubtedly call on to send him to the Senate. Either way, there is little doubt these contributions could serve an important function –  a reflection on Gaetz that hints at his priorities and interests.

Ironically, he is the same lawmaker who in August came to the defense of the town of Bonifay in Holmes County, which was taking heat for adding stickers to police cars and fire engines with “In God We Trust.”

At that time, Gaetz was fighting — at least on Facebook — for the saying to “remain inscribed in our civic institutions and in our hearts.”

It might be good to remember that “In God We Trust” is also on sweaty one-dollar bills.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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