Ex-cop gets unlikely backing

Mayoral candidate’s donors include some with drug arrests.

Published January 30, 2007

TAMPA — For five years, Marion Lewis investigated drug crimes for the Tampa Police Department.

Now, a handful of people charged with or convicted of drug violations are contributing to his campaign for mayor.

Lewis said Tuesday he doesn’t know any of them personally.

“People contribute because they like the ideas of this campaign,” he said.

He has been stumping with the promise of helping “ordinary people,” repeating often that Tampa is becoming a city “where the rich get richer and the poor are getting poorer.”

“There is nothing wrong with being a criminal. What’s wrong is if you remain a criminal,” he said. “I’m not going to hold anything against anybody because they were arrested or in trouble with the law once upon a time. If God can forgive, who am I not to forgive.”

Lewis will face incumbent Mayor Pam Iorio and former fire Chief Aria Green in city elections March 6.
Among those contributing to Lewis’ campaign:

-Willie McMillan, who according to state records pleaded guilty in 2000 to cocaine possession and contributed $65.

-Taurus Permer, who was arrested in July after police responded to a burglar alarm at his home and discovered three ounces of cocaine, three pounds of marijuana, and $15,800 in cash. A month later, Permer contributed $55 to Lewis’ campaign. He contributed another $70 in October.

Permer is scheduled to go to court in March.The contributions to Lewis from those with drug arrests and people connected with them total less than $500, and total only a small portion of his campaign funds. Lewis raised $18,000 from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2006. More than $5,300 came from people who work in the Tampa Police Department.