Florida Strong now going after Dana Young in new mailer

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida Strong, the independent advocacy organization, is going after South Tampa House Republican Dana Young, alleging that she is more aligned with her campaign contributors than her constituents.

“Dana Young has shown she works for her campaign contributors, not the people of Florida,” reads the front page of a mailer being sent residents who live in her House District 60 seat, which includes South Tampa, much of south Hillsborough County, and Town N Country.

The mailers from Florida Strong are part of an ongoing “Got Ethics?” campaign that the group started earlier this year that calls for ethics reform and illuminates lawmakers’ ties to special interests.

The back page of the mailer cites two specific issues that Florida Strong says shows her hypocrisy.

The first item references the gambling bill that she sponsored in 2015 that ultimately failed to pass in the Legislature. That flier says that gambling companies and the gaming industry “have contributed thousands of dollars to Young’s campaign.”

The mailer also references when agricultural giant Alico gave Young a helicopter ride and financial contributions at the same time that the company was seeking millions of dollars in tax support for water farming. Young was criticized by the Tampa Bay Times editorial page for failing to disclose the ride as a contribution on his campaign finance report. Young said she was told by a House attorney that the tour was not a gift and that no reporting was required.

Charly Norton, executive director of Florida Strong, criticized Young for failing to pass “real” ethics reform legislation this past year. “Instead, Young has kept open the loopholes that allow for her kind of pay-to-play politics to be the norm. It’s past time for Rep. Young to take action and address the rampant corruption and cronyism here in Florida.”

In the past, Florida Strong has previously gone after other Republicans like Jeff BrandesRichard Corcoran and Anitere Flores.

Young announced in January that she was stepping down from her HD 60 seat this year and is now running unopposed at the moment for the Senate District 18 seat.

“It is ironic and completely disingenuous that some shady organization that does not disclose its donors is attacking Representative Young for her donors who she reports and are publicly available for everyone to see,” said Sydney Ridley, Young’s campaign manager. “They should be as proud to talk about their funders as Rep. Young is to talk about her record of public service to our community.”

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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.