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Rouson: "I should have provided more clarity"

Minutes before he was going to find out if he could save his job as incoming House Democratic Leader, Rep. Darryl Rouson said he should have provided party members with more information about the fundraising committee he created last month.

“I should have pulled in a few more members and let them know,” Rouson said Monday afternoon in his office at the Capitol. “I should have provided more clarity.”

Whether that contriteness will help persuade his colleagues to keep him on as Minority Leader in 2014-2016 will be determined in the next few hours as House Democrats huddle for a meeting on Rouson’s leadership. It was called a couple of weeks ago by current House Democratic Leader Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation after Rouson agreed to shut down his committee and transfer $147,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.

By the end of the meeting, a vote on whether to remove him from his position is expected.

On Sept. 5, Allison Tant, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, fired two House staffers who had helped Rouson set up the fundraising committee. Tant and other Democratic leaders hadn’t been told about it, leading some to suspect Rouson of a power grab.

But Rouson said Monday that he created the committee, a leadership fund that Rouson and other Democrats had opposed when they were created by lawmakers  in 2011, partly because he was unsure about Tant’s leadership.

“The Democrats had a poor fundraising quarter, they had just rolled out a CFO candidate that they didn’t vet,” Rouson said. “Why would you put your money in a failing bank?”

At times emotional, Rouson said he was taken aback by the subsequent storm of criticism leveled at him by other members protesting the creation of the committee. He said while other House members took shots at him, he held his fire.

Rouson’s said his vision for House Democrats, which he said had moved considerably to the right in recent years, was to widen its appeal to pro-business groups. He said the committee was just one tool he had to use to expand the party’s chances of picking up House races.

“If we’re going to be effective and compete, this committee is going to be a tool that we’ll need to use,” Rouson said.

A trial lawyer, Rouson has experience in making his case. He said he wanted to take advantage of interacting with the caucus members in person.

“I wanted a chance to not face my caucus in cyberspace,” he said, referring to at least two e-mails from members, Rep. David Richardson and Rep. Mike Clelland, asking for his resignation from House Minority Leader, that were leaked publicly.

“They’ve attacked my integrity and  honor,” Rouson said.

Rouson made clear he wasn’t going to back down and relent. Although he narrowly won his post by a 23-21 margin in February, he said he was going to make a passionate defense for him to remain as Democratic Leader.

“I have a fighting chance to provide my take,” Rouson said.

An expert at reading juries, Rouson was stumped when asked what he would do if he felt like he lost the support of his colleagues.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.

Comments

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Demdaysi

How much money has Perry Thurston and the other Democrats who oppose Rouson raised in the last quarter for the Democratic Party? Before they think about removing Rouson, they should show us democrats the Money. Rouson has proven he can raise the money. Thurston has only proven he can follow Tant's orders. Thurston is the one who should be replaced. We need strong leadership not weak followers.

whasup

The Party apparatus, especially now, is full of folks who never put their name on a ballot, stood for election (outside the party apparatus), and won. Tant, like any good party head, should be taking orders from elected Democrats, not dictating to them what they can and can't, must and must not do. That is a recipe for partisan solidarity, but electoral defeat. When will the Democratic activists and politicos in the party recognize that, to gain power, the party must serve its elected officials, not the other way around?

Keep fighting Rouson

The top 3 salaries at the Florida Democratic Party exceed $500K, and they can't raise the money for their own overhead. The FDP needs the 15% they take from Senate and House Victory just to keep the lights on ... and to pay their huge salaries.

Rouson was right to go outside the FDP. Senate and House Victory did the same thing when Scott Maddox was chair and the party was on a downward spiral. (Remember the IRS lien against the FDP?) It wasn't until Karen Thurman became chair that the caucuses returned their money to the FDP.

There's a lack of leadership with House Democrats. Rouson is the only one that can save them.

Bought

Please. Rouson's explanations ring hollow. He created the committee as a power play and so he could control other people. And he took checks made out to the party and deposited them in his own account. The two party staffers weren't simply fired for not telling their bosses about it. What they did was borderline illegal!
You can't take checks made out to the FDP and deposit them in your own account. But the posters above are right about one thing: Rouson COULD raise money. Any elected official in Tallahassee who is willing to sell their vote can raise money. And Rouson has done plenty of selling throughout the years. This is a man with no moral center. As such, it's easy for him to raise cash. Donors know exactly what they're getting for their money. A sellout.

Monica Restrepo

Is Allison Tant leading the charge to purge our party's incoming House leader because he did a better job at fundraising than she did? Is this how desperate the Florida Democratic Party is for $147,000? Why do party leaders engage in open civil war with its elected officials when party leaders get embarrassed?

Don't party leaders see that they have turned the Florida Democratic Party into a 'failed bank'? Party leadership is the hands of ideological extremists that have not only betrayed the party, but they have bankrupted it financially as well as politically. They have left the party with no positive policy agenda to offer Floridians.

Isn't this why the Florida Democratic Party is a super-minority in Tallahassee? A total joke of a party? It's time to clean house! It's time to get rid of the corrupt ideological, atheist, homosexual, hate-filled fringe extremists that have hijacked the party and have buried into the ground.

Loyal Democrats are with Rouson!

GayButNotAberro

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADERS ARE AN EMBARRASSMENT.

Monica, as long as the Democratic Party continues to pander to aberrosexualist (aka homosexualist) extremists and loonies, it will remain a super-minority in Florida.

With a 500,000 edge in registered voters and a victory by President Barack Obama’s well-organized campaign in the state, the Florida Democratic Party had all the makings of a possible political juggernaut at the start of the year.

Today, however, it looks like a joke, not a juggernaut.

Those who want to rid the party of the, as you call them, "corrupt ideological, atheist, homosexual, hate-filled fringe extremists," have a monumental task ahead.

These corrupt extremists have entrenched themselves and prefer to sink the party to the bottom of the sea rather than do the right thing and step aside. Good luck, Rouson!


Mobetta

Wow, and putting Mark Pafford in charge? Man, that ought to bring the big bucks in from business interests. Fundraising is about to dry up for the House Dems.

Why cant the Dems get their act together? Its like the ghost of Scott Falmen continues to haunt the FDP.

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