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Omitting facts, conservative pub misleadingly questions Sen. Bill Nelson's condo deal with contributor


The conservative Washington Free Beacon publication came out with a report questioning Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's recent purchase of an Orlando condo from a developer who's a contributor.

And I wish I had never posted it. I apologize. Speed kills. But falsehoods kill the credibility of those who shop them. It's unclear if that matters anymore.

This piece, a GOP oppo dump, misses some major context and omits facts, according both to Nelson's office, a trusted colleague and a plain reading of the law, the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which would not apply to developers but a person's "principal residence." But the Beacon suggests there's a quid-pro-quo at play, when really there's no evidence of that.

Also, the proposed Act is an extension of already existing law. So the contributor-developer, Francis Issa, would already have benefited from the already existing statute, not this extension. But again, this extension wouldn't benefit him anyway.

As for the deal Nelson allegedly got, it's not a shock that a one-time $1 million property sold for $717,800. Florida real estate is still horrible, and the condo market is even worse. Every buyer gets a legal/ethical steal nowadays who's a buyer. Indeed, another buyer got almost the same deal next door to Nelson but for "$725,000—$2 more per square foot than Nelson’s condo," the Beacon notes. It doesn't mention what Nelson's office says: That the added price was because that other condo was fully furnished; Nelson's wasn't.

Again, this is a conservative oppo dump that a colleague passed on due to the facts above and other errors (e.g., it's not really a "short sale").

I imagine the right-wingers plan to accuse me of "bias" because I'm pointing out inaccuracies dealing with this Florida Senator. Please note that last year, I pointed out problems with the Washington Post and Univision over unrelated reports about Sen. Marco Rubio. He's a Republican, ya know. And here's the right way to write a story about Nelson and property: The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times cows story.

Anyway, read the Beacon/oppo dump at your peril. If you know nothing about Nelson's condo deal. There's a chance you'll come away knowing even less after reading this:

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson cashed in on Florida’s foreclosure crisis, purchasing a lavish $1 million golf course condominium from a major donor on the cheap and subsequently sponsoring a bill to relieve his tax burden.

County real estate records reveal that in November 2011 Nelson purchased a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo at 10339 Kensington Shore Drive for $717,800—$350,000 less than the condo’s $1.07 million value. The property was owned by Issa Homes, which is run by Francis Issa, a longtime Nelson contributor.

Nelson became a cosponsor in 2012 of the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which would provide tax breaks for property owners such as Issa who engage in short sales. Issa Homes paid about $20,000 in property taxes for the condo in 2011 despite the depressed sales price. The bill, if passed, would relieve him of some of that burden.

Issa and his wife Michelle have given nearly $14,000 to Nelson since 2005 and offered to host a fundraiser for the senator’s reelection campaign in September 2011, two months before Nelson purchased the condo....

“Its value, like real estate all across Florida, declined after the housing market crash—and after this condo sat empty for a lengthy period of time. In fact, it had never been lived in,” Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said. “The price Nelson and his wife paid was almost exactly the same amount paid by someone from Pennsylvania—who bought the same size unit across the hall in the same building in the very same month.”

Story here