Count this in the category of headlines that make congressional campaigns cringe: "Clawson and business ties to Pedophile?"
Maybe FOX4 was trying to be nice by tacking a question mark at the end, but it's pretty clear from the station's reporting that Curt Clawson has some newsworthy link with a sex predator named Glen Borst, who last lived in a Utah home owned by the candidate.
The Clawson campaign told FOX4 that Clawson had no longstanding ties to Borst, convicted of repeatedly raping and sodomizing a pre-teen girl in 2004. Two years later, Clawson bought the home in question and, according to a legal document obtained by FOX4, Clawson gave Borst power of attorney, perhaps in the home purchase.
On Feb. 27, Clawson sold it.Two days before, Clawson qualified to run for CD-19 in the seat that U.S. Rep. Trey Radel vacated in a cocaine scandal.
The transaction wasn't the only intriguing timing issue. About 10 hours after FOX4's Warren Wright called the campaign about Borst, Borst's Facebook page was pulled down. Borst "liked" Clawson on Facebook.
Clawson's spokesman, David James, issued a written statement: "There is no there – there. Curt found out about this after the campaign received a call from Fox 4 reporter Warren Wright. This is yet another desperate attempt by career politicians who offer no solutions of their own, to mislead voters. All of their previous attacks have been discredited and this one will fail too. Voters of Southwest Florida are sick and tired of false attacks and guilt by association."
Independently wealthy Clawson has been running as a Rick Scott-like candidate, dumping millions of his own money into the Fort Myers-Naples district (where Scott's primary residence is located). Like Scott, he's a complete political unknown with snazzy ads touting him as the outsider.
But where Clawson has the money, candidate Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Florida Senate's Republican leader, scored a huge endorsement for a Republican: Sarah Palin. Other candidates in the Republican primary race include Michael Dreikorn and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel.
Still, with all that money spent, it's tough not to see Clawson as the frontrunner now.
The race has been tough, with shadowy Super PACs flinging mud at candidates amid counter-accusations of improper coordination.
This is tough reporting by FOX4. Generally, you don't often find that in Southwest Florida. A big exception: The Naples Daily News, which ran a hard-hitting piece that examined Clawson's business past and found a dead worker, a federal bailout and even an Obamacare tie.
The big political question: Will this reporting alter the race?