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American Express lawsuit dogs Taddeo going into Miami Senate election

@PatriciaMazzei

Democratic Florida Senate candidate Annette Taddeo and her translation business owe American Express nearly $38,000, according to a lawsuit the credit card company filed last month.

American Express sued Taddeo and her company, LanguageSpeak, in Miami circuit court June 29, seeking payment for an unpaid balance of $37,794 due since December. In a statement, Taddeo said she was "blindsided" by the lawsuit and said she has "disputed" some $15,000 in charges.

She claimed the suit, first reported by Politico, was politically motivated. She won the Democratic primary Tuesday for Senate District 40 -- and was served with the lawsuit Wednesday.

"My team was working to get this resolved in short order prior to the lawsuit, and believe it will be by the end of the week," she said. "I have no doubt that this suit is timed with my campaign for state senate given the over $300,000 in attacks waged by Tallahassee special interests against me over the last five weeks."

Taddeo has campaigned -- in this race and her past candidacies -- as a successful small-business owner. She faces Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the Sept. 26 primary. Democrats have already started to attack Diaz as a lackey of President Donald Trump, despite Diaz's reputation in Tallahassee as a moderate. The lawsuit gives Republicans fresh fodder to go after Taddeo.

Taddeo's May 24 state financial disclosure lists LanguageSpeak's value at $1 million. She drew a salary of $17,111 from the business in 2015 but listed none in 2016, when she was campaigning for Congress. Her federal financial disclosure from May 2016 also reported 2015 income of between $100,001 and $1 million from her husband's psychology practice.

Taddeo hasn't loaned herself any money for the special Senate race. But she is still owed nearly $400,000 from her 2016, congressional campaign, in which she lost the Democratic primary to Joe Garcia. Taddeo says she written off that money as a loss.

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