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Builder under cloud wooed Meek

 As U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek Kendrick championed a proposed biopharmaceutical complex for Liberty City in 2003, his Miami chief of staff received $13,000 from the project's developer to help the aide buy a house, newly released police records show.

The developer, Dennis Stackhouse, is now awaiting trial, accused of stealing nearly $1 million from the failed Poinciana Park project that was supposed to revitalize the blighted Liberty City community. Nothing was ever built.

The police records show that Stackhouse engaged in an elaborate campaign to curry favor with Meek as the builder sought the congressman's help in obtaining federal funding for the project. In addition to helping the aide's house purchase, Stackhouse hired Meek's mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, paying her $90,000 in consulting fees and paying for a Cadillac Escalade for her to drive.

Meek twice sought congressional earmarks to benefit the project but has insisted that was unrelated to his mother's work for the developer.

On Friday, he repeated that his efforts were designed to help bring jobs and development to the heart of his district — not to provide political payback to Stackhouse.

Some details of Stackhouse's relationship with Meek — a Democrat in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate — were first revealed in a series of Miami Herald articles in 2007. Responding at the time, Meek said that he was unaware that Stackhouse had hired his mother and that he had never discussed the Stackhouse project with her.