Paging Lucy Morgan … Former judge Paul Hawkes signs first lobbying client since 'Taj Mahal' scandal

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Reviewing the new lobbying registrations from last week, there is one entry which might merit special attention, especially from Tampa Bay Times reporter Lucy Morgan.

Morgan might be interested to learn that former 1st District Court of Appeal judge Paul Hawkes — the one-time jurist made infamous by the ‘Taj Mahal’ scandal — has signed his first lobbying client since stepping down from the bench. As of Friday, Hawkes represents Patients for Fair Compensation, Inc., of Alpharetta, Georgia.

According to its website, Patients for Fair Compensation is a nonpartisan organization “dedicated to educating and engaging citizens and policymakers on the negative impact on patient care due to defensive medicine – the practice of ordering medical tests, procedures or consultations of doubtful clinical value in order to protect the prescribing physician from malpractice lawsuits.”

Just over a year ago, Hawkes resigned under controversy for his role in the construction of his court’s lavish new building on the outskirts of Tallahassee and what Special Counsel Wallace Pope characterized as Hawkes’ browbeating and demeaning style of leadership.

According to the Tampa Bay Times,  Hawkes abused his office to quietly persuade the Legislature to borrow money, intimidated state employees involved in the construction, sought a trip from a furniture vendor and ordered the destruction of public documents. Hawkes initially refused a request by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady that he resign as chief judge, and a JQC investigative panel charged him with conduct unbecoming a judge and described him as unfit.

News reports and editorials like that, which began in August 2010, sparked a political firestorm that reached into that fall’s campaign.

Hawkes was first appointed to the bench by Jeb Bush in 2003. Before that he worked in the Executive Office of the Governor in 2000 and was the Chief of Policy for the Florida House from 2000 to 2002. Hawkes served as a member of the Florida House from 1990 to 1994.

A request for comment from Hawkes went unanswered, which is not at all surprising considering it’s the holiday season.

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.