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Trigaux column: Florida businesses deserve better representation than Tom Feeney, new chief of AIF

St. Petersburg Times business columnist Robert Trigaux criticizes Associated Industries of Florida for choosing Tom Feeney to replace ousted chief Barney Bishop. Here's an excerpt from his Venture blog:

Feeney was state House speaker from 2000-2002, when he was elected to Congress from Central Florida. Feeney twice won re-election. Then he fell out of  favor after becoming a crony of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who paid for the congressman to play golf  in Scotland. In September 2006, Feeney was named one of the “20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress” in a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). He is mentioned four years in a row (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) in the annual reports of CREW. Earlier, Feeney was Jeb Bush's running mate in his first race for governor in 1994.

Here's Feeney in a 2008 election ad apologizing for his bad judgment.

Since those illustrious days, Feeney has been running an Orlando business consulting and lobbying company called Liberty Team. His own web site says he is a long-time "advocate of the growth and establishment of the I-4 Hi-Tech Corridor, Medical City and Modeling, Simulation and Space related growth in Central Florida."

Florida businesses deserve better representation in Tallahassee. Or is this simply AIF deciding that in Tallahassee these days it is best to fight muck with muck? Even if Feeney proves effective, AIF will never be free of the past taint.


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Can't Take Anymore

Looks like AIF is competing with the Chamber of Commerce in a race to the bottom in state politics. The COC may have to recruit someone from Enron, Goldman Sachs or Bernie Maddoff's former staff to compete with the slime Tom Feeney will leave in his wake. Ray Sansom may be available if the feds don't lock him up.

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