Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Ticketgate: the political strategy behind the distribution of tickets

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
The first time I saw the tickets to the city’s suite at Tropicana Field was on or about April 16, immediately after Jamie Bennett called St. Pete Beach Mayor Mike Finnerty to confirm a) that Finnerty was still endorsing Bennett and b) if Finnerty wanted four tickets to the city’s suite at a Rays game.

That was the precedent set by Jamie Bennett in my presence. Tickets equals politics. And from those actions I took my direction on how and why to distribute Bennett’s allotment of tickets.

Never mind the fact that Bennett should have never given me the tickets in the first place. But after he gave them to me, what did he think I was going to do with them?

I had already seen him give tickets to Finnerty and to another high-profile supporter. I had also been instructed to give them to members of the POWW group not soon after Bennett had aligned himself with their referendum.

Within this framework, the tickets were nothing but political. So I took it a step further and designed an outreach program that incorporated the disbursement of the tickets. Bennett and I would deliver the tickets to neighborhood presidents right before their monthly meeting. We would also walk door-to-door in their neighborhood. On several days, we would deliver the tickets at the same time we were distributing door hangers. This happened specifically in the case of when we gave the tickets to the presidents of Riviera Bay and Euclid St. Paul.

This entire program was discussed at a campaign meeting held at Bennett’s home on or about April 25. Bennett was fully aware of the idea of distributing the tickets as part of a political effort.

For him to say that he didn’t know what I was doing is insulting to the voters of St. Petersburg. Had I known there were such strict restrictions on the tickets, we would have never incorporated their disbursement into our political operations.

As late as Friday morning, well after he had been admonished by the media, Bennett was still asking me to handle the disbursement of the remainder of the tickets for the May 15 game. I had to remind him to make his own phone calls to coordinate the disbursement of the tickets.

I am not asking any reader to trust me on this, only to ask yourself, why would I be delivering tickets in the first place, if it wasn’t for political gain. For Bennett to play dumb at this point is just insulting.

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.

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