Dockery Tea Party battle brewingby Dara Kam | February 23rd, 2010
State senator and GOP governor hopeful Paula Dockery blasted Republican operative Michael Caputo for linking her with Orlando politico Doug Guetzloe, the center of a Tea Party turf battle playing out in federal court.
Guetzloe joined forces with Dockery in fighting the SunRail/CSX deal during the special legislative session and has supported her candidacy against Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor.
Caputo, a Republican operative who has worked on campaigns in and out of the U.S. and who is closely linked with Roger Stone, and a variety of local Tea Party groups filed a lawsuit against Guetzloe and his cohorts accusing them of hijacking the “real” Tea Party and asking the court to order him to stop using the “Tea Party” moniker.
The flame war began when Caputo sent out an e-mail questioning whether Guetzloe is secretly backing Dockery’s campaign and calling the Lakeland Republican a “liberal.”
Dockery responded with an e-mail asking Caputo with some answers plus her own list of questions.
Guetzloe “is not and has not been paid by my campaign or on behalf of my campaign. I am asking you to refrain from making this claim as you have now been formally told there is no truth to your assertion. Please provide your rationale for making these false claims,” she writes.
The exchange also includes a “Who’s the better Republican?” line with Dockery saying she’s a life-long GOP’er who was first elected in 1996.
Caputo one-ups her there: He says he’s been a Republican since he first got into politics in the 1980s when he worked on President Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign.
Dockery also tries to extricate herself from the Tea Party wars, writing: “I have absolutely nothing to do with the forming of another party and have, in fact, suggested that the formation of a “tea party” will actually harm reform-minded Republican candidates like me.”
Caputo’s snarky response to Dockery also challenges her to distance herself from Guetzloe.
“If you seek Tea Party support for your candidacy, your work with Doug Guetzloe does not endear you to thousands of authentic Florida Tea Party activists who are enflamed by his hijack attempt of their name and cause,” Caputo wrote.
“If what you say is true, it is not enough to stand silently. We ask you to denounce Guetzloe’s Tea Party political party. Please call upon him to disband it immediately and demand he end his personal threats
on true citizen activists in Florida’s Tea Party movement. Our plaintiffs – 34 Tea Party activists and organizations deeply concerned about the damage of Guetzloe’s third party – can help get your message out.”
Read the three messages after the jump.
From: Michael Caputo [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 9:02 AM
Subject: Is Dockery behind the fake Tea Party?
YOU GOTTA READ THIS: www.Shark-Tank.net
www.Shark-Tank.net today covers the lawsuit against the fake Tea Party of Florida, noting the defendants have lied to activists across the state in their scramble to force settlement on their terms. The third partiers, led by Republican consultant Doug Guetzloe, listed Florida Freedomworks’ Tom Gaitens as behind their ex parte efforts and posted his name all over the Internet as their supporter.
It turns out Gaitens wants no part of the third party scam and he’s insisted they stop using his name.
But where is liberal Sen. Paula Dockery in all this mess? In public, she says she will never run as a third party candidate if she loses the Republican gubernatorial primary to conservative Bill McCollum. But Guetzloe has been working for her for at least 10 months – founding and running the effort to draft her into the race, coordinating and promoting her opposition to Sunrail, talking her up as a Tea Party candidate on his brokered radio show, running her efforts to win a recent Orlando straw poll, and much more.
Is Paula Dockery a quiet force behind this third party gambit, awaiting a late-in-the-game endorsement from Guetzloe’s fake Tea Party political party? Why is she working so closely with Guetzloe, who an appellate court said ran a “quintessential smear campaign” against a 2006 Winter Park mayoral candidate. For that, he’s been sentenced to 60 days in jail he’s not yet served.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Guetzloe has also “for years been dogged by allegations that he has taken or solicited money in exchange for his silence.”
Will Paula Dockery – or a wealthy supporter – pay Guetzloe in exchange for his fake party’s endorsement?
It is time for Dockery to dump Doug.
From DOCKERY TO CAPUTO TODAY, 1:02 a.m.:
Since I have not met you nor spoken to you, I’d like to ask you a few questions in regards to your following email which was sent to my legislative email address.
First of all, why are you sending out misinformation without attempting to verify any of your outlandish claims or innuendo? Do you believe that will enhance your public relations business?
Second, I have been a lifelong Republican and have spent my adult life building up my Republican party. Can you say the same?
Third, why are you involving me in your personal grudge with Doug Guetzloe and others?
Fourth, Doug Guetzloe is not and has not been paid by my campaign or on behalf of my campaign. I am asking you to refrain from making this claim as you have now been formally told there is no truth to your assertion. Please provide your rationale for making these false claims.
Fifth, please disclose who is paying you to perpetuate your campaign of misinformation.
Sixth, I have absolutely nothing to do with the forming of another party and have, in fact, suggested that the formation of a “tea party” will actually harm reform-minded Republican candidates like me.
Seventh, I am happy to share information with you about a draft Dockery effort. There were many unrelated individuals who came together on facebook. There was no concerted effort or renumeration involved.
Finally, while I met Doug Guetzloe in Tallahassee during my efforts to renegotiate the FDOT/CSX secret deal and appreciate his common interest in the issue, he has not been working for me in that capacity or in any other. I have no idea to what you are referring with your claim of a 10-month working relationship. Please provide documentation of your claim.
While I appreciate your first amendment right to free speech, I do not appreciate your willingness to be fast and reckless with the facts.
In the future, please feel free to call me with any questions you may have regarding my candidacy, my party affiliation, my campaign organization or my fiscally conservative record.
I’m a believer in transparency and am more than happy to lay the facts out for all to see.
FROM CAPUTO TO DOCKERY TODAY, 1:10 p.m.:
Dear Sen. Dockery:
Thank you for your email. I appreciate your taking the time to contact me and your willingness to answer questions about your association with Doug Guetzloe.
I’m encouraged to know you were a Republican before you ran for office in 1996. Since you asked, I will tell you I’ve been active in Republican politics since 1984, when I worked on Ronald Reagan’s re-election. I later worked for Jack Kemp as a writer (85-88), George HW Bush as a media advisor (91-92), and innumerable GOP candidates across the US and Florida.
I also worked outside the US in liberty’s trenches: in Honduras and Costa Rica as an advisor to the Nicaraguan Contras, in El Salvador with a pro-US presidential candidate, in Russia for President Boris Yeltsin, in Moldova for the reform party, in Ukraine for the parliamentary speaker, and for many others fighting for democracy. We are just about the same age, but when you first burst on the GOP scene in 1996 I was in Siberia training reform candidates for the new democratic Russian Duma.
Let me make this clear: I am not a paid advocate of your conservative opponent, Bill McColllum. Yet I am still aware that you are not a conservative, fiscally or otherwise. I could tick off your votes for tax hikes, pork barrel spending, trial lawyers, teachers unions and the pro-choice lobby, but I’ll leave that to others in the unfolding gubernatorial campaign. That’s not my fight.
My email was on behalf of the 34 plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Doug Guetzloe and the two other men behind the so-called Tea Party of Florida. I am working as a volunteer advisor on the legal case, as I am active in the movement and share their frustration with his effrontery. The message was intended to question just how deeply you are tied with Guetzloe and, in turn, with his third party gambit.
Our effort is not a personal grudge against Guetzloe, and his support for your candidacy is largely a matter of public record. But the public deserves to know more, however, and the plaintiffs intend to find out.
Since you offer more answers, we do have some questions in response to your carefully worded email. You say “I met Doug Guetzloe in Tallahassee” during your fight against the commuter rail project, the one not sponsored by your family. Do you mean to insinuate this was your first meeting with him? As you know, he was a founder and coordinator of the draft to bring you into the governor’s race (http://bit.ly/69lzXf), an effort your close family advisor David Hill helped you with (http://bit.ly/9hQmsl).
Are you saying you had no contact with Guetzloe during the draft? He was certainly your chief defender during that effort (http://bit.ly/9OcVtm). You also appear to have met with him in November, when you thanked him and said “You got me into this” (http://bit.ly/9dKOen). And your first interview as a candidate was on Guetzloe’s brokered radio show in Orlando (http://bit.ly/7AyHVK).
Clearly, Guetzloe was working in support of your candidacy since at least June of last year. You write “there was no concerted effort or renumeration [sic] involved,” but was he or were any of his known colleagues paid by you, your family, or a supporter for any seemingly unrelated work?
Even today, the draft Web site www.dockery2010.com is re-directed to your official campaign Web site, www.peopleforpaula.com. If you type the original draft address with the extension (.index.php), it still
brings up the draft site run by Guetzloe and Nicolas Egoroff – a Guetzloe colleague and co-founder and communications director of the third party.
Since you are “a believer in transparency,” we have more questions: has Guetzloe solicited your campaign for work? Did Guetzloe lobby you in the past, especially while he was scrambling to change the state
election law he was found guilty of violating in 2006? Has he worked for you in any capacity in the past? Also, it is important to know if he was ever paid by other Dockery family projects.
We appreciate that you have “suggested” the Tea Party political party can do damage. The group has already announced its intentions to run a third party candidate for Congress, which will certainly damage
another Republican’s chances. Yet you do not condemn the party founded by your supporters to challenge the Republican Party.
Third party co-founders Guetzloe and Egoroff have been drummed out of the Orange County Republican Executive committee for malfeasance. The Orlando Sentinel says Guetzloe has “for years been dogged by
allegations that he has taken or solicited money in exchange for his silence.” There are countless news articles covering his controversial career and his reputation is crystal clear.
If you seek Tea Party support for your candidacy, your work with Doug Guetzloe does not endear you to thousands of authentic Florida Tea Party activists who are enflamed by his hijack attempt of their name and cause.
If what you say is true, it is not enough to stand silently. We ask you to denounce Guetzloe’s Tea Party political party. Please call upon him to disband it immediately and demand he end his personal threats on true citizen activists in Florida’s Tea Party movement. Our plaintiffs – 34 Tea Party activists and organizations deeply concerned about the damage of Guetzloe’s third party – can help get your message
There is no doubt Doug Guetzloe is an ardent supporter of you and your campaign. To the standard bearers of a true conservative grassroots movement, your silence condones his actions. We ask, with great respect due to you and your office, that you change this and speak out.
Michael R. Caputo