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The hypocrisy of Tom Lee: Senator fundraised before Special Session, counter to what he suggested

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

This week, the Florida Legislature reconvenes to complete its only constitutionally mandated job: close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. But that is not the only business politicians have on their agenda.

Under Florida law, legislators can schedule and hold political fundraisers up to the June 1 Special Session, when they (hopefully) approve a nearly $80 billion budget – and fend off a possible government shutdown.

As the state faces dire fiscal woes, it raises the question — should state lawmakers be fundraising just before setting a budget?

According to Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee, the answer is clear. “No.”

“My suggestion would be that fundraising be suspended until which time we get a budget,” Lee told the Tampa Tribune.

Lee, like many, has wondered about the optics of fundraising in the lead-up to a budget vote.

In a nutshell, fundraising during that period looks bad to voters, collecting money from “special interests” immediately before returning to a Special Session, where they will be asked to support certain legislation.

Lee’s suggestion may be a good one – if he could only follow his own advice.

Before the gavel fell to open the Special Session, the Brandon Republican invited supporters to a golf-themed fundraiser at TopGolf, an interactive East Tampa sports and entertainment venue.

Scheduled for Wednesday, July 8, at 5:30 p.m., the event is sponsored by Lee’s political committee, The Conservative.

One lobbyist told the cost to attend the event is $10,000.

At least the event does sound like fun.

TopGolf, based in Dallas, is a chain of high-tech driving ranges where players hit microchipped golf balls at targets on an outfield, which instantly scores accuracy and distance. The company now serves more than 4 million annual visitors worldwide. If you are interested, the Tampa location is on Palm River Rd.

Tom Lee_Top Golf_July 8th (2)

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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