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Local newspaper balks at publishing Mitch Kates’ ‘press release’ for H-48 candidate Tom McKone

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

An anonymous source sent me a series of e-mails between political consultant Mitch Kates and Patrick Wheeler, the publisher of the East Lake Blister. At first glance, these e-mails look like small potatoes, but taken together they reinforce some of the perceptions about how Kates operates; how he works to gain earned media for his clients — a tactic that worked for Kevin Beckner, but backfired for Scott Wagman. It remains to be seen how Kates’ efforts will work for McKone, a challenger to incumbent Peter Nehr.

The first e-mail was from Kates to Wheeler:


Palm Harbor, FL – Unemployment compensation costs for businesses are increasing dramatically because of high rates of joblessness and the state’s failure to provide further relief by obtaining all-available federal economic recovery funds. Florida Department of Revenue announced that the unemployment compensation payments by businesses will increase 12-fold, a jump from $8.40 per employee this year to $100.30 per employee next year as a direct result of the inaction of the current Tallahassee leadership.

“As I small business owner I will personally feel the impact of Nehr’s lack of leadership on issues like this,” stated candidate Tom McKone (HD-48) “I’m running for office because I believe that there are people in Tallahassee, such as my opponent, who obviously don’t understand how their bad decisions effect the regular small business owner who is trying to make a go of it day-by-day.”


Political advertisement paid for and approved by Tom McKone, Democrat, for Florida House District 48.

To which Wheeler responded:

Good Afternoon Mitch Kates:

We accept all paid political advertisements. Our rates are a flat $500 paid in advance. We look forward to you certified check made out to the East Lake Blister.

Wheeler’s e-mail provoked a terse response from Kates:

Dear Managing Editor,

I apologize for the apparent error. When I traditionally send out a Press Release to members of the media they usually understand what a Press Release is and either chose to use the information or at least look into it and then report on it. I have never had a reply from a real journalist who asks for or requires payment. I apparently mistook your “newspaper” as a real news source.

I stand corrected.

At this point Wheeler sends a scathing response to Kates:


Undoubtably, you don’t understand state law nor fully understand what you write. 1st you wrote at the bottom of your correspondence “Political advertisement paid for and approved by Tom McKone, Democrat, for Florida House District 48.” Therefore, I took you at your word.

2nd, I am in business as a newspaper and not a charity institution. If you know any business who provides free products, they are not in business very long.

Lastly, state law requires that political advertisements be paid for prior to having them published. You certainly must be able to confirm this in the publications your candidate received from the Supervisor of Elections the telephone number for her office is (727) 464-3551 or visit her website which does have rules candidates must follow re political advertisements http://[email protected]

Therefore, undoubtably, your interpretations seem unfounded.

I have attempted to interview your supposed candidate to no avail but I still would like. Are you his press secretary? I ask this as I cannot find who you are. Your telephone is not listed therefore if you provide information to you standing with Mr. McKone, he has never released any information as to who speaks for him. Subsequently, I include Mr. McKone in this correspondence as there is the possibility that you are a “straw horse” attempting to provoke something Mr. McKone may not have actually released.

I look forward to interviewing him, I have a list of questions which would, however he has refused my four requests. However, I do not submit questions in advance. I do not know any newspaper person who does this.

Therefore, until either you or he validate your position as an individual who represents him. I cannot be concerned by what seems a non valid submission of a paid political advertisement. If you are what you claim, you have not read the rules for paid political advertisement. Nowhere do I see your correspondence emanating from Mr. McKone’s political camp.

Reding these e-mails, I can’t help but wonder how Kates will convince the rest of the local Democratic Party establishment to invest its time and money into this race, just like he did in Wagman’s campaign and the Vote Local effort.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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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