Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Democrats' only hope in November . . .

is more stories like this.

For Florida House leaders, membership had its privileges: a Republican Party American Express card to charge jets to Manhattan and Disney World, chic hotels and five-star restaurants.

Flashing the party card opened limousine doors, bought gifts at Harrods in London, Toys R Us or Best Buy. It provided a seemingly bottomless coffee cup at Starbucks.

In all, about $458,000 in AmEx charges like these were racked up by former House Speaker Marco Rubio, his now-indicted successor, Ray Sansom, and the man set to lead the chamber in November, Dean Cannon, according to a Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times computer analysis of Republican Party of Florida credit card statements for a nearly two years ending in 2009.

The part-time lawmakers paid for little of it. Republican Party of Florida donors -- mostly corporate interest seeking favorable legislation from lawmakers -- picked up most of it. Though some of the records have been reported, the credit-card statements of the three party leaders viewed together offer a window into the world of public officials conducting private, partisan business.

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