Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Florida Republicans Double Down on GOP Culture of Corruption With Election of Thrasher As Chairman

The Florida Democratic Party reacted to the election of John Thrasher as RPOF Chairman, issuing the following statement:

"Today, the Republican Party of Florida doubled down on the Republican culture of corruption in Tallahassee. Rather than electing someone to be the voice of Republican grassroots activists or clean up the RPOF mess, Republican insiders instead opted for ethics-lacking, big-spending John Thrasher, who has been convicted twice of breaking Florida's ethics laws," said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "Florida's Republican politicians might be celebrating, because they know Thrasher won't shut down their RPOF slush fund, but by rejecting their grassroots supporters, Floridians of all stripes see that Florida's Republican Party is open to only elite member of their smoky backroom club."

Thrasher: Ethically Challenged

Thrasher is an ethically challenged individual, having been fined numerous times for violating ethics laws as both a lawmaker and as a lobbyist; at one point as a lawmaker, Thrasher even admitting to violating the state constitution by unethically lobbying the legislature while serving as a state representative. In Thrasher's first year as House Speaker, he became the first Speaker in the history of the state to violate state ethics laws. Furthermore, Thrasher's chief of staff while House Speaker was embroiled in an ethics scandal surrounding his simultaneous public and private work. Even after leaving the state legislature, Thrasher continued to attract criticism for his ethically questionable lobbying activities.

Thrasher's Excessive Spending

While House Speaker, Thrasher was repeatedly criticized for his excessive spending habits. During that time, Thrasher paid his chief of staff more than double the governor's salary for 11 months of work and his aide-de-camp $113,374 a year. When Thrasher refurnished his office in 1999, he spent thousands on a flight to Texas to look at a new desk. Also in 1999, he voted to expand lawmakers' access to state benefits.

In 1999 and 2000, Thrasher paid an aide who later became his chief of staff $255, 000 for 11 months of work. In 1999, McNamara was paid $127,500 over the six-month period when he served as a policy advisor to Thrasher. MacNamara signed a new five-month contract with Thrasher on July 8, 1999 agreeing to return in January 2000 as Thrasher's chief of staff for $127,500.

In a May 4, 2000 column, Ronald Littlepage, a Times-Union columnist, criticized Thrasher's pay of his Chief of Staff calling it the "most mind-boggling thing" all session.

In February 2001, the Tallahassee Bureau Chief of the Palm Beach Post, S.V. Date, criticized Thrasher's pay of a staffer as "preposterous." Date criticized the $113,874 Thrasher paid his aide-de-camp.

In August 1999, Thrasher spent $3,100 of taxpayer money to fly to Texas to look at a desk. Thrasher traveled to Texas on a state plane with the House's sergeant-at-arms, a clerk, the director of information technology and a project estimator.

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