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Haridopolos committee returns $294,500 to FL GOP

Remember how, amid the chaos of the state GOP chairman's resignation, nearly $1 million was quietly  stashed in two committees linked to incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos?

Well just as quietly, the group associated with Haridopolos -- The Alliance for a Strong Economy -- has given the money back. Its website shows expenditures of $100,000 and $294,500 in "dues refunds" to the Republican Party of Florida on Feb. 25, five days after state Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine was elected the new party chairman. The group also paid $3,000 to the Robert Watkins & Co. accounting firm in Tampa.

The group tied to Cannon, The Florida Liberty Fund, still has $655,000 of the party's money. Its most recent expenditure was nearly $15,000 to Tallahassee consultant Ron Sachs on Feb. 26.

UPDATE: We asked Haridopolos about the refund, and he said he didn't know all of the details on the move: "I guess we chose to move it over."

Asked if it was because of the change in the party leadership, he said: “Given the vote by the executive committee of the RPOF, I think we had that much more confidence in the board and the staff. And we made the decision to make sure we had the resources to make sure the party can still operate.”

Near the end of the interview, he still seemed a bit puzzled: "I’m not well versed on this issue right now ... We moved our money back in?"

Reporter: "I guess so. I thought you would have some role in that."

"I probably did," he said, noting that there are a handful of other senators on the committee.