The House speaker finds fault with the conduct of state Rep. Nancy Argenziano.
By LUCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001
TALLAHASSEE -- House Speaker Tom Feeney issued a letter admonishing state Rep. Nancy Argenziano for sending a 25-pound box of cow manure to lobbyist Jodi Chase.
"I cannot approve of what you have done," Feeney wrote. "While I can understand that you may have felt offended by the conduct of the lobbyist, it is, nevertheless, my opinion that your response was not in keeping with the level of professionalism that House members should strive to attain . . . Each member should perform at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence," Feeney wrote. "I would therefore admonish you to avoid any similar conduct in the future."
Argenziano was getting sympathy and signatures from fellow House members who defended her free speech rights and objected to any admonishment. Thirty-seven House members signed a petition objecting to "any effort to admonish or otherwise limit or influence the free expression by representatives" as "an intrusion into the most hallowed of protected rights."
Senate President John McKay took a different view. In a handwritten note to Chase Thursday, McKay apologized on behalf of the Legislature.
"I would like to apologize for the recent inappropriate action of one member," McKay wrote. "It was a very great embarrassment."
Argenziano did not apologize and insisted that Chase deserved the gift because of her arrogance in making an unwelcome visit to Argenziano's office during a nursing home debate. While the House was debating the bill Tuesday, Chase "went up to my office and laid down, feet up, on my couch" to watch the debate, Argenziano wrote in an e-mail to fellow House members.
Argenziano said she thinks Chase, who opposed her on several issues in the bill, was trying to send a message, so she decided to send a message in return.
A visit, a gift, a great big mess