« Gov. Scott pleads with Obama to help avoid ports strike | Main | Jon Hammar, jailed ex-Marine from Miami, released from Mexican prison »

FL Dem chair donnybrook update: Tant didn't purge voters, Clendenin took sugar cash (so what?)

Looks like we've got a liberal blog war over the race for Florida Democratic Party chair, pitting Allison Tant vs. Alan Clendenin.

Tant was hit first, by The Political Hurricane blog, which backs Clendenin. It noted that Tant once lobbied in 2000 for Choice Point, the parent company of DBT, which was hired by then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris to purge voter rolls of suspected felons. Many Democrats and minorities who were lawful voters got purged as well.

When the story came out, Tant said she had nothing to do with the felon purge issue. And now a former partner, Martha Barnett, backs her up. Barnett said the two and others worked at the Holland & Knight law firm, which was hired to represent a host of clients. ChoicePoint bought a company they were already representing, Barnett said, and Tant's involvement with the company concerned identity-theft issues.

"Holland & Knight, nor Allison Tant who was an employee of the firm at the time, was not involved in any way in the Florida Secretary of State voter purge issue you referenced in your article," Barnett said in an email.

The Progressive Dems United blog (which looks like it's written by an anonymous political consultant) fired back today against Clendenin for heading up a 2010 political committee called Committee for a Better Tampa. It took $10,000 from a committee linked to U.S. Sugar, a boogeyman to some liberals/environmentalists.

But U.S. Sugar gives to almost everyone. For instance, the Democratic Party has taken in at least $755,105 from U.S. Sugar and a subsidiary since the 1990s. Add in other sugar growers, and the party has taken in at least $841,000 (and probably far more if all the subsidiaries are included). Big sugar also helped Rod Smith wage a failed campaign for governor in 2006. He's now the Democratic Party chair.

The vote for party chair is Jan. 26. For both Clendenin and Tant, that day can't come soon enough.