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By JONI JAMES
Published July 30, 2004
TALLAHASSEE - Cynthia Henderson, a prominent lobbyist and former agency head for Gov. Jeb Bush, obtained a temporary restraining order last week against her husband after he found her in bed with another man and allegedly threatened them with a crowbar, court records show.
Henderson's husband of three months, Bennett T. Eubanks III of Blountstown, left her Tallahassee home before sheriff's deputies arrived in response to her 911 call, Henderson wrote in court records.
The Leon County Sheriff's Office declined to release records of the July 19 incident, citing an ongoing investigation.
Eubanks, 44, part-owner of a Bainbridge, Ga., Ford dealership, referred questions Thursday to his attorney, David Barrett. Eubanks will contest the restraining order, which is scheduled to be reviewed by a judge Wednesday, Barrett said.
"Temporary injunctions are often granted without any evidence by the respondent," Barrett said. "If the temporary injunction remains in place, he will respond."
Henderson, 43, the controversial head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and later the Department of Management Services during Bush's first term, said on Thursday she filed for the restraining order because she feared for her life.
"I don't see how this is a matter of public interest," Henderson said. "This is a domestic violence issue."
The alleged attack came three months after Henderson and Eubanks married in an impromptu April ceremony after a five-month romance, Henderson said.
She changed her driver's license to reflect her married name and a Blountstown address, but she said they never moved in together.
Henderson said she stayed in her Tallahassee home so she could work during the 2004 legislative session and her two children from a previous marriage could finish the school year.
But by early June, she said, "It was clear it wasn't going to work. It was something I was talked into and something we should never have done."
She said she hired a lawyer June 17 to begin divorce proceedings. She said she told Eubanks - after she had decided to seek a divorce - that she had begun dating lobbyist Jeffrey Hartley, 31, whom she identified in court documents as her boyfriend.
On July 9, Henderson changed her Florida license back to her Tallahassee address. In a hand-written account filed Friday in Leon Circuit Court in support of the restraining order, Henderson said Eubanks used an electronic keypad to let himself into her Tallahassee home July 19.
"He was pulling sheets with crowbar trying to take pictures and yelling he was going to kill us if we moved," Henderson wrote. "He kept trying to entice my boyfriend to move so he could kill him. He was yelling horrible names, threatening to show pictures to my children and "everyone' to ruin my reputation."
When Eubanks left the room, Hartley locked the bedroom door and Henderson called 911, Henderson wrote.
"He returned and beat the door with crowbar. He beat out bottom half of door. Didn't leave until sheriff on way," Henderson wrote.
Hartley, whose wife, Andrea, filed for divorce in Leon Circuit Court two days later, did not return a reporter's calls Thursday.
Henderson was a Tampa lawyer when Bush chose her to oversee the state's business regulation in 1999. Her tenure there, and later at the agency overseeing the state's management services, was marked with controversy.
She successfully defended herself against ethics complaints tied to her acceptance of a plane ride to the Kentucky Derby from a restaurateur her agency regulated, and to renting a Tallahassee home from a lobbyist representing a client with business before her agency.
She also pushed through Bush's controversial policy to privatize the state's personnel services, Service First, a plan that is now more than a year behind schedule.
Henderson left state government in January 2003 and began work as a lobbyist for Tew Cardenas, a Miami firm.
But she quickly drew scrutiny when she was lobbying for a computer concern before officially registering as their representative.
Hartley works for Smith Bryan & Myers in Tallahassee.
Both Henderson and Hartley have more than a dozen high-profile clients. They both represent Progress Energy and United HealthCare of Florida before the Legislature. Hartley also is a lobbyist for the Hillsborough County Commission.
[Last modified July 29, 2004, 23:57:19]