Not to defend lobbyist David Ramba, but…

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Not to defend lobbyist David Ramba — because as David Mamet wrote, you should never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane — but at what point does the Times/Herald‘s investigation of all things Internet cafe become part of a crusade undertaken for reasons completely unrelated to the strip mall casinos.

Mary Ellen Klas reports tonight the not-as-scintillating-you-might-think account of how Sen. Garrett Richter flew to the Kentucky Derby with Internet café lobbyist Dave Ramba and two other gaming lobbyists last year, where they sat on Millionaire’s Row. 

Ramba told the Herald/Times Richter was one of “at least 20 to 30 legislators and that many lobbyists who took private jets to the Derby for House and Senate leadership fundraisers” during the May 4 and 5 event.

As Klas reports, 2012 session began and ended early last year because of reapportionment and the Derby weekend was a perfect venue for collecting campaign cash for most lawmakers. But the high-end fundraiser, at one of the most prestigious gambling events in the nation, also offers a glimpse into the comfort with which legislators mingle with the same lobbyists who seek their votes.

But why single out Ramba? 

Why single out Ramba in a story about Richter and five other Senators hosting Ramba for what a lawmaker described as a “legislative thank you for … fundraising” — when Ramba was certainly not the only lobbyist who attended the dinner?

Why, you ask? Because of Ramba’s connection to the Internet cafe story? That’s may be what it looks like at surface level.

But what’s really going on here is an attempt to handicap Ramba and neutralize Richter from fully engaging in the ongoing ophthalmologist versus optometrist battle.

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.