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Democrats say Byrd misspent tax money

The speaker is accused of using taxpayer funds to send a political message.

By Times Staff Writer
Published May 22, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - Florida House Democrats on Wednesday accused Speaker Johnnie Byrd of using public money to deliver a "partisan Republican message," and asked for their own taxpayer-funded Web site.

House Democratic Leader Doug Wiles, D-St. Augustine, sent a letter to Byrd that noted Byrd's use of video e-mails, survey cards and the House Web site, to communicate the Republican majority's agenda to millions of Floridians.

Troubled by what he described as the partisan tone of Byrd's message, Wiles asked for the names of all e-mail addresses of voters received by the speaker's office, postcard responses and other information gathered.

Wiles' letter came a day after the St. Petersburg Times reported that Byrd sent a taxpayer-funded mailing to 25,000 Hillsborough County families that defended the House education budget in the face of criticism from Hillsborough educators and PTA leaders. The mailing also included a reply postcard that asked for respondents' e-mail addresses.

Byrd's office had no immediate response to Wiles' letter. Byrd was traveling in Tampa.

[Last modified May 22, 2003, 01:30:54]

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