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RPOF continues to swing knives at Fitzgerald

The Republican Party of Florida is stepping up its attacks on former State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, the Democrat who's trying to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan from Congress.

An RPOF release says John Saputo, an appointee of former Gov. Charlie Crist and trustee of New College, where Fitzgerald is a professor, has asked Fitzgerald to "put students ahead of his political ambitions and take an unpaid leave to run for Congress."

RPOF doesn't mention that Saputo has donated $3,250 to Buchanan since 2009 and several family members appear to have also donated, according to filings from the Federal Elections Commission.

The release also accuses Fitzgerald of being "embroiled in an ethics scandal." As a former House member, Fitzgerald voted on state budgets that included money for New College without filing conflict-of-interest forms.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, hammered Fitzgerald over the conflict-of-interest forms last week, but the Herald/Times is still waiting for Thrasher to ask University of Florida lecturer and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, for his conflict-of-interest forms.

Buchanan himself is under "no fewer than four congressional and federal investigations" for an actual ethics scandal, according to a June report by CNN's Anderson Cooper.

In response to RPOF's accusations, Fitzgerald put out the following statement.

"Congressman Vern Buchanan's allegations are despicable and baseless lies.  This false, sleazy, personal attack is exactly what is wrong with politics today.  I am sick of it and I want everyone to know that I am calling out these lies for what they are."

RPOF didn't respond to calls for comment. The Florida Democratic Party called the accusations "hypocritical" and "painfully shameless." The release is below.


Professor Keith Fitzgerald Campaigns for Congress on Taxpayers Dime, Trustee Tells him to Take Unpaid Leave

Sarasota, Fla - A member of the New College Board of Trustees today asked one of the school's professors, Keith Fitzgerald, to put students ahead of his political ambitions and take an unpaid leave to run for Congress. Fitzgerald is embroiled in an ethics scandal for not disclosing his conflict of interest in voting in the state legislature on millions of dollars in state funding for New College. Two ethics complaints have been filed against Fitzgerald with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

In a letter to the editor of the Bradenton Herald, New College Trustee John Saputo criticized Fitzgerald for further staining the reputation of New College by demanding to be paid to run for Congress.  "Several trustees thought that if Professor Fitzgerald wanted to run for the Legislature, or now for Congress, he should keep New College out of his political ambitions and take the 'stand-up course of action' and take an 'unpaid sabbatical,'" wrote Saputo. 

Saputo objects to New College "paying Fitzgerald to run for Congress while hiding behind his union contract" and for "allowing him to make New College kindling in his political quest for a congressional seat at a time when we have a $1 million budget deficit."

"Wouldn't we all like to run for Congress and be paid by the state of Florida?" asked Saputo.  "Many of the trustees would like to keep the college out of Professor Fitzgerald's campaign for Congress by again asking him to take an unpaid sabbatical."

State Senator John Thrasher recently denounced Fitzgerald's failure to disclose his conflict of interest while a member of the Florida Legislature, saying "citizens expect better from elected officials and it is disappointing that we find ourselves having to address this problem with individuals running for public office."





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Carleigh Hanson

What's up with Fitzgerald's hysterical reaction to the RPOF release? He sounds panicked, like a stuck pig. Me think thou doth protest too much, Keith.

Karen and Dolwick

What's up is is Fitzgerald is a common working man. If he quits his job, his family starves. The Republican party has been trying to get him fired since he filed to run for Congress. What a great way to keep honest, hard working people from running for office.

Carleigh Hanson

It's not a problem with honest, hard working people - just people who are milking the government teat for taxpayer money to subsidize their personal ambitions. I have a problem with my tax dollars paying this guy not to teach while he runs for office. But, I guess that's typical liberalism for you... expect the taxpayers to foot the bill.


The New College of Florida is $1 million in debt yet they are paying professor keith fitzgerald to run for Congress with taxpayer dollars? Someone needs to investigate the school. This stinks, I can't believe it's legal. Are they doing this because Fitzgerald got the school millions in state aid when he was in the Florida Legislature? Didn't the former speaker of the Florida House Ray Sansom go to jail for the same thing?

Karen  Dolwick

Check your facts. He didn't get millions for New College.


Who do you trust more -- one of the good-old-boys, a beer distributor appointed by Ricj Scott or a hard -working, highly educated and motivated college professor who has demonstrated his ability to do yeomen work in the state legislature while continuing to fulfill his commitments to his students and family?

If we limit our political arena to those who are independently wealthy, workers will always lose.

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