Haridopolos financial backer goes belly upby John Kennedy | April 26th, 2011
One of Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ big financial backers, Appliance Direct, has filed for bankrupty in an effort to reorganize its finances and stabilize its eight retail stores in Central Florida.
Haridopolos one-man consulting firm, MJH Consulting, has counted as one of its two clients a company named Market Share Systems, a subsidiary of Appliance Direct. It paid him $181,000 since 2007 and provided him with a $5,000 monthly retainer, according to documents filed last year with the Florida Commission on Ethics.
The ethics panel found that Haridopolos failed to fully disclose his financial interests for five years from 2004 through 2008. In an unusual move, the full Senate admonished its leader — a candidate for U.S. Senate — earlier this session for the disclosure failures.
The ethics investigation was sparked by a Vero Beach resident’s complaint. It confirmed Haridopolos had left out such key information as a $400,000 investment home in Mount Dora and the names of two clients, Market Share Systems and Syntax Consulting of New York which paid him more than $52,000 from 2004 through 2006.
A longtime Market Share Systems lobbyist is Frank Tsamoutales, a Haridopolos friend and political ally also rooted in Brevard County. Appliance Direct is run by Sam Pak, a Korean immigrant known his over-the-top television ads.
Pak’s TV shtick features him banging on the dishwashers and washing machines his company sells, insisting that if a customer bought elsewhere, “You paid too much!”
In its bankruptcy papers last week in Orlando, the company blamed the lousy economy and stalled housing market for leading to a drop-off in home appliance sales.