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John Thrasher’

Senate GOP leader: E-Verify might have saved lives of 9/11 victims

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate came closer to finalizing its immigration reforms after killing an amendment proposed by powerful Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher.

Thrasher’s plan would have fined businesses that hired workers in the country illegally but would not have required business owners to use the federal E-Verify system.

Trying to convince senators to support his amendment, Thrasher implied that the 9/11 terrorist attacks might not have happened nearly a decade ago if Florida had the E-Verify system in place.

“I will remind everybody in here that 10 of the 19 terrorists that attacked our country that were directed by Osama bin Laden to do that lived in the state of Florida. I wish we had had an E-Verify system because some of them were working. We might have saved the lives of 3,000 Americans,” said Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a former House Speaker who also recently served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

The Senate killed the amendment by a 23-16 vote after more than an hour, including a heartfelt speech by JD Alexander, the Senate’s immigration reform architect.

Alexander, a citrus farmer who also raises blueberries, crafted a measure that, among other things, would essentially exempt agricultural businesses like his from having to verify workers’ immigration status.

But he objected to Thrasher’s amendment after saying he could not find enough legal immigrants – or other workers – to pick his blueberry crop during the season that ended this week and expressing frustration that the federal government’s inaction on the issue was forcing state lawmakers to acting because of political pressure from tea party activists.

“Quit all these one-sided political arguments,” said Alexander, who is term-limited out of office next year. “I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do. The federal government should stop it tomorrow without a doubt. But we’re not talking about that…This is not our problem and we’re having this problem put on our shoulders and I resent it. And I resent it because we’re asked to choose between hard-working people and somebody’s uninformed knowledge” of illegal immigration.

End to greyhound racing in sight

Friday, April 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Dog tracks would no longer have to run dog races but could continue to operate the more lucrative card rooms under a measure passed by the Senate and awaiting secondary House approval.

Sen. Maria Sachs, the bill sponsor, said the bill is needed so the state can stop bailing out the dying greyhound racing industry while keeping the tracks alive.

Palm Beach Kennel Club owners support the measure in part because fewer races will make their dog races more valuable when broadcast over simulcast at other tracks. Only three of the state’s existing 16 dog tracks, including PBKC, are expected to continue to keep running the dogs if the bill becomes law.

The measure would also benefit PBKC because it is one of the seven tracks that now purchase tax credits from other tracks who are eligible for the tax breaks but don’t generate enough revenue to use them.

Critics of the measure include the dog owners and breeders, who claim that doing away with the races will put thousands of workers out of a job.

But Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said the state would no longer have to subsidize “a business model that’s no longer profitable” through tax breaks as public interest in the races – and revenues from them – decline. Revenues generated for the state from dog racing have plummeted by more than half over the past 10 years, from about $40 million in 2000 to about $5.2 million last year.

The measure created a stir on the floor as some Republicans tried to amend the bill to accommodate the state’s thoroghbred industry.

Senators find out about super-secret drug contract costing state millions

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The state of Florida is paying too much for prescription drugs because, in part, its contract with a middleman bars discussion about potential cost-savings, a consultant told the Senate Budget Committee this afternoon.

In addition, the state – the largest employer in Florida – is paying way more than other businesses for prescription drug dispensation, consultant Jeffrey Lewis, who analyzed state agencies’ spending on prescription drugs, found.

The state pays a $4.28 dispensing fee to pharmacies for each prescription filled, more than three times more than the $1.25 market rate.

But the state’s getting ripped off even worse for mail-order drugs, Lewis said. Florida pays a dispensing fee of $4.22 for each prescription filled through home delivery while most other companies pay nothing.

“Paying for mail-order is unheard of,” Lewis said.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander requested the analysis of prescription drug spending after running into trouble getting information from state agencies about what they were spending on drugs.

Just before Lewis’ presentation, Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and his committee learned that the state’s budget hole is continuing to grow and is now at an estimated $3.62 billion.

Lewis, the president of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, estimated the state could save about $230 million in two years by revamping how it buys prescription drugs. Florida should renegotiate the contract with Minnesota Multi-State Contracting Alliance and its distributor Cardinal Health, Lewis recommended, among other things.

“This is incredible,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

“Hopefully somebody from the governor’s office is in here. If they’re not I would recommend somebody hand carry this down to the first floor right now,” Thrasher said, waving a copy of the presentation.

Thrasher asked if Gov. Rick Scott, whose office is now scrutinizing all state contracts worth more than $1 million, could issue an executive order to change any of the state’s prescription drug purchasing processes.

“Our governor obviously likes those kinds of things,” Thrasher said.

Dems kick Haridopolos’ U.S. Sen bid right out of the gate

Monday, December 6th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn’t waste any time slamming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a GOP U.S. Senate hopeful who’s just taken over the helm of his chamber.

Before Haridopolos has even officially announced his intention to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in two years (if, as expected, Nelson seeks reelection), the DSCC lashed out at the Merritt Island Republican for violating the state’s ethics laws.

“Mike Haridopolos’ arrogance reached a new level when he kicked off a likely Senate bid by pleading guilty to breaking Florida ethics laws,” DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy said in a statement today. “If Haridopolos’ miserable first week as a likely candidate is any harbinger for the future, he’s got a lot of explaining to do to Florida voters.”

Haridopolos, a college teacher whose courses include government, and the state Commission on Ethics reached an agreement about his failure to accurately fill out his financial disclosure forms for five years.

His punishment? Nothing, thus far.

Haridopolos’ own chamber and fellow senators will have to decide whether their leader must face a fine or other penalty for failing to identify the clients that paid him as a political consultant.

Sen. John Thrasher, who is also the head of the state GOP, is chairman of the Rules Committee that will make the final decision on whether to mete out any fiscal or other reprimand. Haridopolos appointed Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, to head the committee before he entered the stipulation agreement with the ethics commission.

Read the joint agreement here.

Tea partiers to lawmakers: We have our eyes on you.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 by Dara Kam

More than 100 members of the tea party movement, many of them county leaders, showed up on the day of the special session to learn more about the state legislature and to remind lawmakers that they’re going to hold them paying close attention to how they vote on tax and spending issues.

“We’re here to send a message to the Florida Legislature that we’re serious about holding them accountable,” said Henry Kelley, leader of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party and organizer of Tuesday’s event.

Several powerful GOP leaders, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Sen. John Thrasher, who’s also the head of the Republican Party of Florida, dropped by the group’s meeting in a Senate committee room.

Haridopolos, who pledged Tuesday that lawmakers “will not raise taxes a single dime,” said he had a good talk with the group.

“That’s the kind of energy we need. As a person who strongly believes in the Constitution, I’m glad that they’re leading the fight to make sure we have limited government,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said later.

“We want to have a two-way dialogue with them throughout the year. We want to hear directly from people because sometimes in Tallahassee you get too isolated,” he said.

UPDATE: State GOP audit reveals lavish spending by former party chief

Friday, September 17th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Charlie Crist had this to say about the RPOF audit released today:
“I went to Disney World with my wife and my two stepdaughters and we paid for it ourselves.”

An audit of state GOP spending revealed that former party chief Jim Greer spent tens of thousands of dollars on lavish hotel rooms and trips unrelated to official business, including more than $5,000 on costs associated with his son’s baptism.

The audit, released to the public today, also found that the Republican Party of Florida picked up a $13,435.59 tab for a personal trip to Disney World Greer and his family took with Gov. Charlie Crist and his wife Carole and possibly her two daughters in June 2009.

Crist, who left the Republican Party this spring to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race, said earlier this week he had no idea about possible misspending on travel after Thrasher threatened to take Crist to court to recoup the money if Crist didn’t repay it.

But the audit showed that Crist and his wife and the Greers spent more than $13,000 on a personal holiday at the Walt Disney World Contemporary Hotel.

Greer also charged $10,992.17 on his RPOF-issued American Express card for three personal vacations to Fisher Island, including one in which Crist participated, the audit found. Carole Crist owns a home on the exclusive enclave.

Crist’s campaign responded with a statement demanding that his opponent, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, release all of his credit card statements prior to the dates covered in the audit.

“Republican party bosses engaging in smear tactics to cover-up the wrongdoing of their own nominee? Shocking. Now that the bosses have ended their partisan charade, they must immediately release all of Marco Rubio’s credit card records dating back to when he was Speaker-Designate to determine the extent to which he charged the party for personal expenses like family reunions and real estate payments,” Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in an e-mail.

Crist on travel charges: ‘I don’t know what they’re talking about’

Monday, September 13th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s in the dark about state GOP leaders’ demands that he pay them back for travel expenses unassociated with party business.

“It’s the typical political season stuff that we’re going to see. I think it’s sad and just indicates how partisanship gets in the way,” Crist told reporters this morning after a memorial service for missing children at the Capitol.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher threatened Friday to sue Crist and Jim Greer, Crist’s hand-picked party chairman, to get reimbursed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel costs. The expenses in question were charged to Greer and former party executive director Delmar Johnson. Crist did not have one of the party American Express cards in question.

Greer resigned in January and was charged in June with fraud, theft and money laundering for his alleged misuse of party money. Greer has pleaded not guilty. Greer maintains he is innocent.

Thrasher and other GOP leaders huddled for hours over an internal audit Friday at their annual meeting in Orlando but refused to release the audit to the public. Thrasher, a former House Speaker who is also a state
senator from St. Augustine, said he may take Crist, Greer and Johnson to court to get the money back.

“I don’t even know what they’re talking about. As you know, they haven’t been transparent. They haven’t
released any of the report. So it’s hard to even know what they’re talking about,” Crist said.

Crist, who abandoned the GOP this spring to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race against Republican Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Democrat, said Thrasher has not asked him for reimbursement of the alleged charges.

“We don’t even know what they are. Neither do you. They won’t show us the report,” Crist said.

State GOP called ‘disingenous,’ accused of ‘political grandstanding’ over audit

Saturday, September 11th, 2010 by George Bennett

The Republican Party of Florida’s statement that it is considering legal action to recover “inappropriate expenses” by Gov. Charlie Crist, former Chairman Jim Greer and former executive director Delmar Johnson was blasted by spokesmen for all three today.

The party says it is considering litigation based on an audit that it wouldn’t release. Click here to read the whole story.

Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner accused the GOP of “political games” to undermine Crist, who left the GOP in April to pursue a no-party Senate bid.

Greer attorney Damon Chase accused the party of “blatant political grandstanding….They’re going after the three guys they don’t like.”

Johnson’s attorney, Bob Leventhal, said: “It’s quite disingenuous of them to make comments and not release the report…Mr. Johnson would love for them to release the audit.”

State GOP mulls legal action to recover ‘inappropriate expenses’ by Crist, Greer, former aide

Saturday, September 11th, 2010 by George Bennett

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Republican Party of Florida leaders today said they might pursue legal action to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in “inappropriate expenses” by Gov. Charlie Crist, his hand-picked former GOP chairman and a former top party aide between 2007 and 2009.

State GOP Chairman John Thrasher made the announcement after he and the party’s executive board spent three hours reviewing an audit of party finances while Jim Greer was chairman.

Crist’s campaign spokesman accused the GOP of playing “the same old political games” against Crist, who left the party in April to pursue an independent Senate bid.

The expenses, largely travel-related, were put on the American Express cards of Greer and former GOP executive director Delmar Johnson, but many of them benefited Crist, Thrasher said.

Read the RPOF statement after the jump…


Jeb Bush returns to GOP dinner circuit: ‘Elvis was in the building tonight’

Saturday, May 8th, 2010 by George Bennett

Former Gov. Jeb Bush returned to the Republican dinner circuit Friday night, keynoting a Pasco County GOP dinner and making his first joint campaign appearance with Senate hopeful Marco Rubio.

Bush clearly had star power among the 600 or more partisans who attended. One audience member drew applause when he shouted that Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, should make his own run for the White House.

“Elvis was in the house tonight, wasn’t he?” Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher said afterward.

Here’s a story about the event.

And some expanded Bush excerpts are after the jump….


Capitol crowd reaction to Charlile’s defection? Snickers

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Charlie Crist was surrounded by a crowd of cheering admirers in his St. Petersburg hometown when he announced he is dropping out of the GOP U.S. Senate primary.

On the fourth floor rotunda of the Capitol, not so much.

The rotunda’s typically a raucous swirl of frenzied last-minute activity on the penultimate day of the 2010 session,

But gone was the cacophony of just moments before as Crist’s tanned visage appeared on two large-screen televisions.

Dozens of lobbyists sat, stood with their arms folded or leaned against marble pillars watching the national broadcast of the governor’s decision.

The response? Utter silence, with one exception – when Crist said “I was never one who sought elective office to demagogue or point fingers.”

Wanna buy Crist’s portrait? Thrasher to sell it on E-bay

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

State Republican Party Chairman John Thrasher didn’t mince words about Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to run with no party affiliation to avoid a GOP primary in the U.S. Senate race against former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

“He’s been gone a long time, in my opinion, and this just kind of makes it official,” Thrasher, a state senator from St. Augustine told reporters shortly after Crist’s announcement.

Thrasher won’t ask for his GOP registration card back, though.

“All I’m going to do is take his picture down at Republican Party headquarters. And probably put it on E-bay and see what we do,” Thrasher said.

When asked how much he thought it would bring, Thrasher said: “Questionable.”

GOP leaders oust former chairman Greer from leadership roles

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Greer: fears socialist indoctrination in Obama speech

Greer: fears socialist indoctrination in Obama speech

The Republican Party of Florida essentially kicked former Chairman Jim Greer out of the party today, stripping him of everything but his voter registration card.

Greer’s successor, Sen. John Thrasher, removed Greer from all offices Greer held at a secret meeting in Tallahassee today.

The RPOF executive board unanimously supported Thrasher’s decision, Thrasher said in a statement.

Greer’s ouster from the party comes amid a federal investigation into the past chairman and other former high-ranking GOP officials and their credit card spending.
Greer filed suit today against the party last week, accusing the GOP of reneging on almost $124,000 he says the party owes him in severance pay.

“Based on the information that has come to light during the recent Party audit, I have determined that Mr. Greer has engaged in activities that have injured the name and status of the Republican Party of Florida, and has grossly interfered with the activities of the Republican Party,” Thrasher said in the statement.

Greer sued the GOP for allegedly reneging on almost $124,000 he says the party owes him in severance pay. He also accused the party in the lawsuit of offering him $200,000 in hush money, which RPOF officials deny.

Thrasher ordered an audit of the spending under Greer, and Gov. Charlie Crist, who hand-picked Greer to head the party after his 2006 election, asked federal investigators to launch an inquiry into possible misspending.

RPOF Chairman Thrasher on Crist, credit cards and condemnation

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 by Dara Kam

Sen. John Thrasher, chairman of the maligned Republican Party of Florida, has a lot to contend with.

Things are heating up in the legislature with less than 10 days to go before the session’s end.

Federal investigators are snooping around former high-ranking GOP officials, including his predecessor at the Party Jim Greer, and their credit card spending.

And Gov. Charlie Crist is considering abandoning the party that helped him to victory in the state Senate, two Cabinet seats and the governor’s mansion.

Crist’s consideration of dropping out of the GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and running as an independent in the fall has Crist’s former allies (and those who weren’t big fans of the governor to begin with) coming out in droves to distance themselves from the former sure-bet for U.S. Senate.

Thrasher offered some advice to Crist’s critics, including House Speaker Larry Cretul: Chill.

Crist on running as an independent: ‘Things change.’

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

After repeatedly insisting that he’s not going to jump the Republican Party ship, Gov. Charlie Crist had a simple response to what he would say to Floridians if he does now that he’s considering running for U.S. Senate as an independent.

“Things change,” Crist said.

Those things might include GOP leaders demanding that Crist drop out of the race altogether if he decides to run as a no-party candidate.

Yesterday, the executive director of the National Republican Senate Committee said he believes there’s “zero chance” Crist will remain in the GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio, once an underdog in the race but who now holds a double-digit lead over Crist in the polls.

“It is our view that if Gov. Crist believes he cannot win a primary then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day,” NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer wrote in a memo.

Crist dismissed the suggestion in his typical populist style.

“I think I’ll take the advice of people in Florida instead of the advice of people in Washington. They’re telling us a lot,” he said.

Numerous GOP leaders in and outside of Florida are distancing themselves from Crist since he vetoed two bills important to Republicans in the legislature: a bill measure that would have allowed “leadership funds” and a teacher merit-pay bill pushed by Sen. John Thrasher, who is also the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

He said he’s “getting a lot of calls and a lot of text messages” offering him advice on what to do.

Crist acknowledged the almost surreal shift in the race in which he was once the hands-down leader and GOP officials virtually pretended that Rubio was not even in the race.

“These are unusual times. Arent’ they?” he said.

Thrasher, who said Crist reneged after telling him he would sign the controversial teacher bill into law, offered some lukewarm encouragement to Crist.

“In spite of policy differences that we’ve had, we have a big tent and I just hope he stays Republican,” the chairman said.

Republicans who once backed Crist may abandon him if he runs as an independent, which could hurt the Republican nominee. Or, he could take their support with him, something Republicans fear.

“I don’t know that they do. That’s the dilemma he probably has now. Again, you’d have to go follower-by-follower to find that out,” said Thrasher, R-Jacksonville.

McCollum blames teachers for Fla losing out on federal education funds

Monday, March 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum blamed the teachers’ union for Florida’s failure to win out on the first round of federal “Race to the Top” education funds.

The Florida Education Association, that opposed the stimulus funds, is “now responsible for the loss of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for Sunshine State students, teachers and schools,” McCollum campaign manager Matt Williams said in a press release.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Education that Florida was not selected as a first round winner of the Race to the Top competition is a disappointing reminder the unions will continue to put the interests of bureaucracy over the best interests of Florida’s children,” Williams accuses.

Sen. John Thrasher, who also serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, joined in the teacher-bashing chorus although Gov. Charlie Crist said he remained hopeful that the state could ultimately win some of the $4 billion in federal funds.

Greer predecessor Jordan on GOP AmEx spree: “Nobody had carte blanche” when I was in charge

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 by George Bennett

TALLAHASSEE — Former Republican Party of Florida Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan said the GOP issued American Express cards to top officials while she was at the helm from January 2003 to January 2007, but “we were very careful. We set up a lot of business procedures….Nobody had carte blanche.”

The party made about $3.1 million in American Express payments during the four years Jordan was chairwoman. During the three years her successor Jim Greer was in charge, the party’s AmEx bills topped $3.8 million. Greer stepped down last month in part because of controversy over his lavish spending.

Jordan, now the tax collector of Indian River County, is in town for a Republican women’s conference. Asked her opinion of the American Express spending under Greer, she paused briefly, then said: “It’s over. We need to move on. I’m very excited to see Speaker/Sen./Chairman (John) Thrasher running the party.”


Atwater blames Thrasher for not giving up GOP credit card statements

Monday, March 1st, 2010 by Dara Kam

Senate President Jeff Atwater said he is more than willing to hand over his Republican Party of Florida-issued American Express credit card statements but that the party’s new chairman, Sen. John Thrasher, won’t do it.

Reporters asked Atwater, who is running statewide for chief financial officer, about the notorious AmEx spending that’s embroiled former House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio and former House Speaker Ray Sansom.

“I asked Chairman Thrasher if he would release the statements of the RPOF credit card that was assigned to me and he said no,” Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said. “He said he has his internal process going on…I have asked him and he has said no. That is the party’s card. It is not my card. I do not have the statements.”

When pressed about why Atwater did not request the statements, he insisted he could not.

“I’m not the card. That would be RPOF. It’s RPOF’s card. So if RPOF were to request those statements I assume they could get them. At this point, it is the party’s card. And I have asked the chairman would you release any card statements that were associated with me? I have no qualms about what anyone would see on that and he said no, we’re doing our process.”

Atwater had one of the AmEx cards while he was recruiting Republican Senate candidates and raising money for the party in 2007 and 2008. He says he used the card strictly for party-related business.

The cards, issued to an undisclosed group of top elected Republicans and party officials, have been a continuing source of embarrassment as details have emerged of lavish spending by former Chairman Jim Greer (including that $3,600 meal at Brasserie L’Escalier), indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom (his $173,000 in AmEx charges included a family trip to Europe and an $893 Starbucks tab) and former exec director Delmar Johnson ($133,763 in a single month last summer).

Rubio got his turn in the AmEx spotlight last week when someone, presumably a supporter of opponent Gov. Charlie Crist’s slumping GOP Senate bid, leaked records of Rubio’s $125,000 in charges from 2006 to 2008. No Greer-scale extravagances emerged, but the records showed a $133.75 visit to Churchill’s Barber Shop in Miami that Rubio said he paid himself.

Haridopolos and Cannon refuse to release GOP credit card charges

Friday, February 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Sen. Mike Haridopolos and Rep. Dean Cannon – on tap to be the next Senate President and House Speaker – aren’t coughing up their state GOP-issued credit card statements, the pair said in a press release today.

“While the media is now calling for the release of many of the Party’s internal financial records, it is our firm belief that the professional auditors should be allowed to do their job without the interference of a media circus surrounding the release of any records,” Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and Cannon, R-Winter Park, said in the release.

The leaders-to-be issued the release after former House Speaker Marco Rubio’s American Express statements were leaked to the media earlier this week, causing embarrassment for Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign and glee for his GOP primary opponent Gov. Charlie Crist.

Crist has said that the Republican Party of Florida books should be opened up because of questionable spending by RPOF staff. The party’s spending was among the reasons former state GOP boss Jim Greer was forced out last month.

New RPOF Chairman Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, ordered an audit of the party’s books to begin on Monday.

But he won’t release the statements, either.

Conflict of interest for Thrasher as Senate elections chairman and head of RPOF?

Friday, January 8th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson wants Sen. John Thrasher stripped of two important committee assignments if he is annointed chairman of the state GOP as expected.

Lawson asked Senate President Jeff Atwater today to remove Thrasher as chairman of the Ethics and Elections Committee and off the powerful reapportionment committee if he is also chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

“The conflict is evident: Senator Thrasher’s primary job as RPOF head is to see that Republicans win and maintain office through the elections process – a process in which his committees – one of which he controls – play a critical role,” Lawson, D-Tallahassee, wrote Atwater this morning.

Thrasher, a former House Speaker, returned to the legislature in a nasty special election to replace the late Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville. The trial lawyers’ association political arm targeted Thrasher in a racially-charged mailer that resulted in a shake-up at the Florida Justice Association leadership and forced former executive director Scott Carruthers to resign.

Thrasher’s special election drama was one of the reasons why Atwater appointed him to chair the committee, Atwater said at the time. Campaign reforms are at the top of Thrasher’s agenda this session, the Jacksonville lobbyist said late last year.

Along with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I was deeply troubled by the announcement earlier this week that Republican Senator John Thrasher may take over as head of the Republican Party of Florida, while maintaining his seat in the Florida Senate.

“As you know, the task of the committee he chairs is to set public policy on maintaining fair and unbiased elections. The task of the second of which he is a member is to oversee the drawing of legislative districts. To allow Senator Thrasher to remain in dual chairmanship roles and/or as a member of a committee holding sway over fair representation would threaten the integrity of the process as a whole,” Lawson wrote.

Stay tuned for a response from Atwater.

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