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Jeff Atwater's 'Budd' still drawing $150k Senate salary

Outgoing Senate President Jeff Atwater is running almost full time for Chief Financial Officer, has cleaned out his office in Tallahassee and appears to have turned the reins of the Upper Chamber over to his successor, Mike Haridopolos, who has hired a few Senate staffers and fired many more.

Except for one: Budd Kneip, Atwater's longtime friend and Senate chief of staff who is continuing to draw his $150,000 annual salary at a rate of about $12,500 a month. That's more than Gov. Charlie Crist ($130,273) earns.

But there's another chief of staff doing all the staff chiefing these days: Steve MacNamara, hired by Haridopolos to be his right-hand administrator and part-time chief legal counsel for $175,008, or about $14,500 monthly.

So is Kneip working?

"Sen. Atwater has a district office and I was informed Mr. Kneip is working out of it," said Senate spokesman David Bishop.

We checked the district office in West Palm Beach and were told Kneip wasn't working out of there, but was "in the district." But then, when we noted this to Bishop, he clarified that Kneip was in the district office in the state Capitol. When we checked (c. 4 p.m.), Kneip wasn't there. Two aides were and insisted Kneip had been there earlier.

Bishop noted the Senate has saved a bottom line dollar figure of about $657,000 (including benefits) due to recent resignations and terminations.

The latest: Marta Hardy, a longtime health appropriations staffer who earned $109,356 and is one of the only Hispanic women in the Senate's upper management. Here's the tally from last week. Meantime, numerous staffers are preparing to get fired or are looking for work elsewhere because they feel they'll be in the unemployment line. Not Kneip. Assuming Atwater continues to cruise in his race, Kneip's a likely pick to be the top administrator for the CFO, where he stands a good chance of being paid more than his boss again.