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Storms on the paper trail - and the trail of every penny

Published February 18, 2007


State Sen. Ronda Storms says she has nifty legislation in mind to shine some light and hold governments accountable for their spending and taxing: getting every contract, every check written, every budget put on the Web, easily available for the public to review.

"It really shines the light of day onto these big, gargantuan budgets and holds people accountable," Storms, R-Brandon, said in a Political Connections interview airing at 11 a.m. today on Bay News 9. She expects to file a bill soon, and "I think that it has a very good chance of seeing the light of day, if not this year then next year. I know I have at least four years."

The freshman legislator joked about giant egos in Tallahassee, the frustrating pace for getting things done in the Legislature, and took a shot at Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who as election supervisor encouraged the purchase of voting machines lacking a paper trail. Storms noted that as county commissioner she wanted such a paper trail.

"It was a Democratic supervisor of elections (Iorio) that opposed this Republican on that paper trail. And now she's the mayor. Maybe one day she'll be accountable for that."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and can be seen later on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on Demand).

Another Sembler for Mitt Romney

St. Petersburg developer and former Charlie Crist finance chairman Brent Sembler has jumped aboard the Mitt Romney campaign. That may not sound like a big surprise considering his dad, former Ambassador Mel Sembler, is already on the Romney national fundraising team.

But, like all fathers and sons, the two aren't always on the same page. Mel was miffed when Crist stood up President Bush in the Panhandle last year, while Brent stood by Crist on that one.

The younger Sembler said he was sold on Romney after spending a few days with him earlier this year in Israel. "By the end of that trip, getting exposed to him and getting to know him personally, I was satisfied that he is the real deal. He's the best of us. He's so smart, he's so humble, he's got a very clear mind."

Charlie's new squeeze?

The Palm Beach Post last week updated us on Gov. Crist's love life. It seems the bachelor governor was recently set up with a former actor from Palm Beach County who will soon appear on reality TV show Hottest Mom in America.

Lake Clarke Shores beauty Kelly Heyniger, 36, was said to be rubbing the 50-year-old governor's back during a Feb. 10 Red Cross fundraiser on Jupiter Island.

No official word on why a few days later Crist took two days off around Valentine's Day.

Sen. McCain's Florida team takes shape

John McCain named his Florida campaign advisory team: former Attorney General Jim Smith, former state GOP vice chairman Allison DeFoor and former Jeb Bush advisers and aides J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, Antonio Villamil and Cory Tilley.

"Sen. McCain is a committed and principled leader who will align well with Florida voters," said Smith. "He is a passionate conservative that has shown an incredible ability to get things done."

A Northern governor in Mulhern camp

A packed house greeted Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Saturday night at a fundraiser for Tampa City Council candidate Mary Mulhern.

Granholm, who is Mulhern's sister-in-law, talked about the Mulhern family's commitment to public service, saying it "runs through the DNA of the family." She then talked about the importance of women in politics helping out those who follow in their footsteps.

"Once a glass ceiling is broken, it's meant to stay broken," she said. She ended with a pitch for donations to Mulhern's campaign, pointing out that she beat her opponent in the Michigan governor's race despite her competitor's overwhelming financial advantage. Mulhern faces a similar challenge. Council member Shawn Harrison, Mulhern's opponent in the race for that at-large District 2 seat, has raised $157,000 to Mulhern's $23,000.

Among those listening to Granholm: Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Florida Rep. Betty Reed, Tampa City Council member Gwen Miller, former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky.

Also in attendance was Helen Gordon Davis, whom host Janet Rifkin introduced as a "trailblazer for women in Hillsborough County." Davis was the county's first female state representative, elected in 1974.

Those from the other side of the gender aisle who turned out to hear Granholm included Florida Sen. Charlie Justice, Florida Rep. Michael Scionti and former Florida Sen. Les Miller.

Mack's new venture in 'strategic advice'

Former Republican Sen. (and Crist mentor) Connie Mack is the senior policy adviser of a new lobbying operation in Tallahassee called Liberty Partners of Florida. The office will be staffed by Mack's former state director, Jamie Wilson, who is leaving a local lobbying firm headed by Van Poole, and Jennifer Jankowski Green, formerly the lead lobbyist for the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Others associated with Liberty include Steve MacNamara, an associate professor at Florida State University, where he teaches mass media law and political communications, health care lobbyist Allison Hunt, and former Mack Senate aide Scott Barnhart.

"My focus will be giving strategic advice to companies," said Mack, adding his role would be similar to the one he has had in Washington since his retirement from the Senate six years ago.

Crist donates unspent funds to charities

Crist is donating to charity unspent money raised for his inaugural festivities. The 2007 Florida Inaugural Committee raised $255,000 beyond the costs of the events. The money will be given to Derrick Brooks Charities, the Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation, John Walsh's National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Florida Disaster Recovery Fund. Each organization will receive $63,750.

Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz. For much more breaking political news check out

[Last modified February 18, 2007, 00:30:52]

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