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Legislative aide quits under fire
An assistant to state Rep. Paige Kreegel used state equipment to work for his boss' re-election. It wasn't his first lapse.
By LUCY MORGAN, Times Senior Correspondent
Published November 10, 2007
Rep. Paige Kreegel, (R), Punta Gorda, listens to Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio during a session of the Florida House of Representatives, 05/03/2007.
[Scott Keeler | Times]
TALLAHASSEE - Barry Millman, an aide for Rep. Paige V. Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, resigned Friday after he was caught using his state office and equipment to further Kreegel's re-election campaign.
Millman, 50, offered his resignation to House Speaker Marco Rubio at 3:10 p.m. Friday. The action came after House staffers found Millman guilty of "dishonesty" and recommended he be fired.
A former reporter for the Charlotte Sun Herald and the Tampa Tribune, Millman got caught lying to a constituent who asked for copies of e-mail he exchanged with officials at Hodges University in Fort Myers. A House report says Millman also lied to officials in the House and violated state laws governing the release of public records.
Millman used House computers to investigate the educational background of Keith Richter, a Lehigh Acres man who is running against Kreegel in the 2008 Republican primary.
Millman also called officials at Hodges University and questioned the legitimacy of a master's degree Richter obtained online from Canterbury University, an unaccredited school in the Seychelles.
Millman was familiar with the subject.
When hired by Kreegel in July 2006, Millman claimed a bachelor's degree in communications studies from the State University of New York at Brockport. Officials at the university said Millman did not have a degree. House files indicate Kreegel was told of the discrepancy but decided to retain Millman.
Millman filed a corrected application. It lists only a high school diploma from Carle Place, N.Y.
Florida law makes it a misdemeanor to falsely claim an academic degree. A South Florida judge declared the law unconstitutional in 1995, but it remains on the books.
Millman's resignation, effective Nov. 23, came less than a week after the St. Petersburg Times reported that he was working on Kreegel's campaign on state equipment during office hours, and that he lied to a constituent who requested copies of e-mails he exchanged with Hodges University, which hired Richter to teach math classes.
Robert Anderson, president of a Lehigh Acres watchdog group, requested copies of the e-mails on Oct. 10. Millman twice told Anderson that the e-mails did not exist. Anderson appealed to Rubio's office, where House officials recovered the e-mails from the main computer system and gave them to Anderson.
Florida election laws forbid state employees and officials from working on political campaigns during office hours or from state buildings. Anderson and Richter say they believe Kreegel should accept responsibility for Millman's actions.
When questioned by House staffers, Millman said Kreegel told him to make one of the calls to the university and assured him it was "all right." The report does not indicate whether Rubio plans to take any action against Kreegel.
Millman and Kreegel did not respond to a request for comment.