In the conservative Florida Legislature, Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake, has an undisputed reputation for fiscal austerity.
None other than Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by billionaire libertarian brothers David and Charles Koch, gave O’Toole an A+ rating in June, establishing her as the gold standard for a group that says it prizes “free markets over cronysim.”
Yet even this group questions O’Toole’s dual roles as chief operating officer of a nonprofit and vice chair of the House education appropriations committee that approved $6 million for the same Miami nonprofit in this year’s budget.
Take Stock in Children was awarded an additional $9.1 million from the state’s $200 million mortgage settlement. O’Toole, a former IBM executive with a thick Boston accent, voted on both matters.
In neither case did she disclose she’s paid $50,000 a year by the group.
“It seems the proper thing to do in this case would have been to identify that you have this role with this group,” said Slade O’Brien, the Florida director for Americans for Prosperity. “Or recuse yourself from the vote.”
Getting an explanation from O’Toole, 68, isn’t easy.