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Wed Sep 17, 2014, 01:33 PM


Ed Hooper gets called out for 'pay to play' in Pinellas County commission race!


Another week, another testy exchange between Pinellas Commission candidates Pat Gerard and Ed Hooper

16 September

Pinellas County Commission candidate Pat Gerard has called on her opponent, Ed Hooper, to give back the money his consulting firm was paid by the Clearwater Aquarium while he served in the Legislature.

Gerard, a Democrat running for the District 2 seat currently held by Norm Roche, accused Hooper last week of being untruthful when he said that none of the clients of the Consus Group benefited from his work as a lawmaker. She noted the company was paid several thousand dollars in 2011 to represent the aquarium as it sought a development permit from the city for an expansion project. Hooper's partner, Joe Burdette, was listed in city filings as one of the aquarium's "agents."

Hooper, a Clearwater Republican who beat Roche in last month's primary, later sponsored a bill making aquariums eligible for local tourist tax revenue. Hooper also helped land $5 million for the Dolphin Tale sequel, with $1 million going to the aquarium for other uses if the movie never got made. Dolphin Tale 2 premiered last week.

Hooper said he didn't work on the aquarium project but acknowledged he received half of the total fee that he estimated to be $9,000 to $10,000

On Tuesday, in an open letter to Hooper, Gerard said he should return the money. She also repeated her call for him to release the Consus Group's client list.

"At worst, this is evidence of a pay-to-play scheme and corruption at high levels of state government," wrote Gerard, who currently serves as Largo's mayor. "At best, your fees from The Consus Group create a perceived conflict of interest that violates the public trust. The voters of Pinellas County deserve to know their local representatives have only their interests in mind when proposing legislation."

Hooper on Tuesday refused to give back the money or release his client list. He reiterated what he said last week: His work for the aquarium and in Tallahassee are "not even remotely related."
He said the aquarium bill benefited about two dozen other aquariums in Florida, and that the money secure for the movie and the aquarium was meant to boost tourism in his home district

"It's a false controversy," he said.

False or not, the subject is likely to come up again when the Gerard and Hooper appear together Thursday at the Suncoast Tger Bay Club's monthly luncheon.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 5:27pm]

Hooper used to be a firefighter and a democrat on the Clearwater City Commission. He switched to a republican in 2002, because Jeb Bush told him if he wanted to see his firefighter bill go anywhere, he better support him! So he did! Then Hooper remained a repug, and is now termed out. How many pensions do you need, and how many teets can one guy find to suck?


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Reply Ed Hooper gets called out for 'pay to play' in Pinellas County commission race! (Original post)
TheNutcracker Sep 2014 OP
TheNutcracker Sep 2014 #1

Response to TheNutcracker (Original post)

Wed Sep 17, 2014, 01:39 PM

1. K&R to the greatest and help get him called out by local nooze!


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