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The Hill: Corruption scandals are shaking up Florida Senate campaign

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From The Hill: Wednesday’s arrest of Florida’s former state Republican Party chairman is the latest incident that could tip the scales in the state’s three-way race for the Senate.

A longtime friend and ally of Gov. Charlie Crist, former state GOP chairman Jim Greer was arrested at his Oviedo home on six felony charges connected to a money-laundering scheme during his four-year stint as chairman.

Given Greer’s closeness with Crist, some believe the case is more likely to hurt Crist than former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the anointed GOP candidate. Crist has left the GOP and is running for the seat as an independent.

Rubio, however, faces a reported IRS investigation into charges he used a state GOP credit card for personal expenses. Possibly also damaging, Rubio led the state House of Representatives at the same time that his Appropriations Committee chairman, former state Rep. Ray Sansom (R), is alleged to have engaged in an illegal appropriations scheme with a Northwest Florida college. Sansom later stepped down as House speaker and faces third-degree felony conspiracy charges in a trial that could prove embarrassing for Rubio.

Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee, isn’t free from scandal, either: The congressman pushed for millions of dollars for a developer who faces criminal charges for fraud, and that developer, Dennis Stackhouse, hired Meek’s mother as a consultant and helped Meek’s chief of staff buy a home.

Meek twice pursued congressional earmarks to fund Stackhouse’s project to build a biopharmaceutical complex in blighted Liberty City, but he has claimed that the effort was about bringing jobs to the area and not political payback.

“It’s a very toxic environment, and it could have a dramatic effect on the voters,” said former state education commissioner Jim Horne, who served under Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and is now a lobbyist. “Voters right now are very distrusting of the political process and players, and especially incumbents. And it’s more problematic for Republicans, since it’s been all on the GOP side.”

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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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