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Harris stands firm behind speaker in the unfolding of Foley scandal

By TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Published October 8, 2006


Don't count Republican Senate candidate Katherine Harris among those second-guessing House Speaker Dennis Hastert's handling of the Mark Foley scandal. Hastert may have been aware of "creepy" e-mails from Foley to a 16-year-old page, but in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, Harris noted those e-mails were not explicit and stressed that the St. Petersburg Times saw the same ones.

"You all knew about it as well, and apparently it wasn't enough to go forward. I still find that creepy, but (not) sexually explicit," Harris said. "If any news organization knew about (lurid messages) and did not inform the authorities, if any Republican or Democrat, elected or operatives, knew and did not go to authorities and they put our pages at peril, then I hope they get prosecuted."

Despite the lack of support the Bushes have shown Harris in her senate bid, Harris gives President Bush strong marks for his overall performance: An A for his handling of the economy and a B for foreign affairs. The interview can be seen at 11 a.m. today on Bay News 9 and later at no cost on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on Demand).

HOLD NOSE AND VOTE: This gives you an idea what Republican state Rep. Joe Negron is up against, running an for Congress, by trying to convince people to elect him by casting their votes for the disgraced Foley. Foley's name remains on the ballot, and Negron's own son struggled with that predicament.

Negron said his son, David, a junior at Florida State University, voted for his father - sort of - by absentee ballot Wednesday. "I just held my nose and voted for Mark Foley," Negron quoted his son as saying. "I think that just about sums it up."

DOUBTING GINNY: Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, is among those doubting Foley's claim of alcoholism. The rehab center "has got to be the most effective rehab center in the whole wide world," she said. "Because in two days, he was able to admit he was abused by a clergyman and he's an alcoholic and he's gay."

Foley has never been an alcoholic, she said. In fact, she used to joke with him about being "a cheap date. ... I have seen Mark take a drink of wine that he nurses all night long," she said. "I never saw him inebriated, never saw him even close, never saw him slur a word."

money chase: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis had a good fundraising week last week. Not as good as Republican Charlie Crist, but respectable enough. Davis raised $419,000 the week of Sept. 22-29, the most recent reporting period. Crist raised $548,000 last week.

To date, Davis has raised $5.3-million and spent $4.4-million, leaving less than $1-million on hand as of last week. Crist has raised $16.4-million and spent $13.5-million, leaving $2.9-million in the bank.

CITIZENS CUSTOMER BUSH: For all you Floridians reeling from high insurance rates, consider this: Your governor is paying them too.

Jeb Bush, who said again last week he still hoped to call a special session on insurance issues after the November election, confirmed that he is a Citizens Property Insurance Corp. customer for a condominium he owns in Coral Gables.

The governor declined to say exactly how much he has seen his wind-only policy increase: "A lot. Like everybody else's. No less, no more."

REPUBLICANS FOR DAVIS: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Davis last week rolled out a batch of Republican supporters who said Crist's plan for property tax relief is inadequate because it affects homesteads only, not businesses or rental property. They also said Davis has a better approach to education problems in Florida.

"I'm sorry I don't see Charlie Crist's leadership abilities vs. Jim Davis'," said Frank Morsani of Tampa, former chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

GENEROUS BILL: Sen. Bill Nelson last week brushed off any suggestion that he hasn't done enough to help other Florida Democrats. He made sure Karen Thurman was elected chairwoman, recruited the nationally respected Luis Navarro as executive director, and has raised lots of money, he said during a meeting with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board.

"I have done everything that I can for the Florida Democratic Party, including putting a lot of my own money in (he wouldn't say how much) that could have been spent on TV."

JEB AND 41: Two Bushes are better than one when it comes to raising money for Charlie Crist's campaign for governor. Former President George Bush and Gov. Bush will co-host a party fundraiser Thursday at the home of cardiologist Zachariah Zachariah in Sea Ranch Lakes, an oceanfront enclave just north of Fort Lauderdale.

The admission fee: $5,000 per person, $10,000 per couple.

Adam C. Smith, Steve Bousquet, Joni James, Alex Leary, and Elena Lesley contributed to this week's Buzz. For much more breaking political news check out blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.