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Caller's familiar ID raises red flag

A woman says she received a Redner campaign call from a fake Jim Davis.

By BILL VARIAN
Published March 23, 2007


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TAMPA - Betty Fueyo was immediately skeptical of the man on the phone Wednesday night identifying himself as Jim Davis and saying he was with the Joe Redner for Tampa City Council campaign.

Fueyo, 80, knows Jim Davis. And this man was no Jim Davis.

"This voice was higher pitched," Fueyo said.

The man never said he was a former congressman or recent gubernatorial candidate, or that he was endorsing Redner, a Tampa strip club owner. But to Fueyo, the implication was clear.

"I thought it was a deceitful phone call," she said.

The call touched off a fiery exchange via reporter between Redner's camp and that of his opponent, incumbent Gwen Miller. Then things got hazy.

Here's how it unfolded:

Fueyo called her son, Rick Fueyo, a lawyer who used to work with Davis. Davis, in fact, had recorded a phone message on Miller's behalf during the City Council primary. Mrs. Fueyo also received that message.

Fueyo, who is not involved with Miller's campaign, tracked down some people who are. The Miller camp then put out the word on the alleged dirty deed.

"That's not right," said Miller's husband, former state Sen. Les Miller, who is managing his wife's campaign. "Let's be truthful about things."

Redner exploded with some profanities when asked whether his campaign was misrepresenting its backers. He said he didn't know anything about it, that he merely paid consultant Vic DiMaio $5,000 to conduct a phone bank.

"His name is Jim Davis. Should he make up a phoney name?" Redner said. "I don't f------ misrepresent my f------ self. That's one thing I don't do."

DiMaio tracked down the man who placed the phone call to Fueyo. Responding to a reporter's request that he show proof of the man's existence, DiMaio faxed a copy of a Florida driver's license and Social Security card - for a Timothy Davis. Public records showed they matched.

Mrs. Fueyo remained certain that she heard the caller say Jim because she clarified it two or three times when the voice didn't seem to match.

"I still think they were trying to mislead," she said in a follow up conversation. "If there's no hanky-panky, I'm glad to hear it."

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 23, 2007, 00:59:00]


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