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Political Junkie: Hopeful removes site's link to porn

Democratic House candidate Michael Steinberg said he didn't know. A Lutz mother of four said he should have known better.

By BILL VARIAN & DAVID KARP
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 2, 2002


Democratic House candidate Michael Steinberg said he didn't know. A Lutz mother of four said he should have known better.

The minidrama started Thursday when Steinberg, who is running for the District 47 seat, learned that his campaign Web site included a link to a site that linked to a pornographic one. Steinberg's site linked directly to www.mugshots.org, which features arrest photos of famous people, including a satirical one of Jesus Christ. References to sex acts appear with the photos of Hugh Grant and Pee Wee Herman. At the bottom is a link to pornographic Web sites.

Steinberg, once voted Tampa's funniest lawyer, described it as an honest mistake. "I would not have put the pornographic Web site on there," he said before removing the mugshots link from www.steinberg2002.com.

Mary Lynn Gorsline was browsing Steinberg's site with her two teenage daughters when she came across the link. She said she wanted to stoke their interest in politics after receiving a campaign flier from Steinberg's Republican opponent, Kevin Ambler.

"I'm like, that can't really be," she said.

Gorsline said she found the mugshots site offensive even without the pornography link.

Steinberg said he had added the mugshots link more than a year ago to jazz up his Web site. The site also links to political and governmental organizations.

* * *

Hoping to place incumbent Democrat Hillsborough Commissioner Pat Frank in a last-minute headlock, the Republican candidate and former wrestler Brian Blair has once again turned to a former ringmate to promote his campaign.

Clearwater's Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, appears in Blair's final television spot, which began airing Thursday. The ad opens with Hogan shouting, "I'm Hulk Hogan, and you know how much I love kids and families. Brian Blair does, too."

Hogan then tears the Frank campaign T-shirt he is wearing off his chest and pronounces Blair "the best choice for the job."

The ad then leaves Hogan and switches tones. It pronounces Frank "Too liberal. Too long." Then, giving new meaning to the "piece de resistance," the ad shows Charles "White Chocolate" Perkins of public access fame and a still from the naked woman in the shower scene he made infamous. Black bands cover the woman's privates as a text block asks, "Our Tax Dollars For This? Pat Frank Said Yes."

The ad arguably presents a conflicting image. Even Blair says he doesn't let his children watch wrestling on television, saying it has become too raunchy. But Blair has said his point on public access is not to get rid of it but to keep taxpayers from paying for the smut that sometimes airs on it. Frank voted against cutting the funding, saying that decision by a majority of commissioners would open the county to charges of censorship, an issue now in court.

* * *

East county businessman and political activist Ralph Hughes did his own campaigning for Blair this week in a three-page missive mailed to what he will describe only as "a few thousand people."

The mailer, on his Florida Engineered Construction Produced Corp. letterhead, cites Blair's campaign themes. It faults Frank for her support of a gas tax to replace use of property taxes to pay for roads, her support of the indigent health care plan and her opposition to waiving impact fees charged for new construction in economically distressed areas.

It should be noted that Frank was mainly critical of an impact fee waiver zone in Gibsonton, where two housing developments accounted for most of the construction. A Times story showed that Hughes' FECP Corp. was supplying construction materials to many of the homes.

* * *

Denise Lasher was eliminated from the north Hillsborough County Commission race on Sept. 10, but not completely.

On primary eve, she filed a lawsuit against Ken Hagan, saying Hagan and a key supporter had mailed a slanderous flier falsely accusing Lasher of supporting a $1-billion county tax increase. After winning the Republican primary, Hagan moved to dismiss the suit. Judge Greg Holder hasn't ruled on that.

Lasher's attorney asked to speed up the evidence gathering so voters could learn before Tuesday's election whether Hagan had committed "improper actions." Holder declined.

* * *

Bob Buckhorn was spotted at an unusual campaign stop Thursday: a crime scene.

Buckhorn, who is running for Tampa mayor, showed up at Columbus and N Boulevard at about 2 p.m. Thursday, where a Tampa Police officer had shot a homeless man. Buckhorn's presence did not go unnoticed by officers as he spoke with onlookers.

- Got a political tip? Contact Bill Varian at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com or David Karp at 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com. Times staff writers Josh Zimmer, Bill Coats and Tamara Lush contributed to this column.

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