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Riley to step down?

By TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Published August 9, 2006


District 50 Republican contender Nancy Riley has decided to resign as president-elect of the Florida Association of Realtors after the Sept. 5 primaries.

On July 28, Florida's Commission on Ethics ruled that Riley couldn't serve as president of FAR while simultaneously serving as a state legislator. The commission said it would be a conflict of interest.

Riley faces fellow Republican Ed Hooper in the primary.

"After talking this issue through with my family, friends and colleagues, I have reached a decision," Riley said in an Aug. 7 e-mail sent to the more than 140,000 FAR members statewide. "When I win the Primary Election on Sept. 5, I will then resign my position as President-elect of FAR."

The District 50 seat covers Clearwater, Largo and Safety Harbor.

HELLER SPENDS BIG: In July, District 52 Democratic candidate Bill Heller spent $60,140 on his campaign, including about half of a $20,000 loan he gave himself. As of the reporting period that ended July 28, Heller had $10,100 on hand. His Democratic opponent, Liz McCallum, spent $13,100 during the period and had $2,140 remaining in her campaign chest.

Of the two Republicans in the race, Angelo Cappelli finished the cycle with $78,780 left to spend, Ross Johnson with $7,550.

SHARING SECRETS: District 50 State House hopeful Candice Jovan, a Democrat, and other campaigners were invited to a candidate screening two weeks ago held by a group called the Alliance for a Healthier Florida.

The invitation letter said the alliance, formed from various medical industry interests, wanted to interview candidates in order to decide on future endorsements and contributions.

Leading the interviews was Jack Hebert, founder of the local political consulting house the Mallard Group. Jovan said she was asked detailed questions about her campaign strategy.

What she did not learn until later was that the Mallard Group is working for Jovan's Republican opponent, Nancy Riley.

"It would have been nice to know," Jovan said. "I like to think people do things, you know, just straight, why not?"

Other candidates interviewed at the screening said Hebert disclosed that he was consulting for opponents and gave them the option not to proceed.

Hebert said he was aware of the potential conflicts and his failure to warn Jovan was not intentional.

"I'm sure it was an oversight," he said. "We did 24 candidates over the course of the day."

HARRIS IN PINELLAS, AGAIN: Can't get enough of Republican U.S. Senate aspirant Katherine Harris? Then swing by a candidate forum scheduled for Thursday.

Harris is keynote speaker at the event, which is being hosted by the Central Pinellas Republican Club.

Other Republican candidates expected to attend include District 54 contenders Rod Jones, Jim Frishe and Mike Petruccelli. House District 51 primary opponents Bruce Cotton and Dottie Reeder are also expected.

The forum starts at 11:30 and will be held at the Super Buffet at the Seminole Mall.

For more information call club president Barbara Stephens at 727-397-3449.

Staff writers Demorris A. Lee and Will Van Sant contributed to this week's Junkie. For more political buzz, go to www.sptimes.com/blogs/buzz. Contact the staff at politicaljunkie@sptimes.com.