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Florida Strong goes after Miami Sen. Anitere Flores with mailers


An independent advocacy organization is highlighting Sen. Anitere Flores' former ties to Doral College in a direct-mail campaign in the Miami Republican's district.

The mailers from Florida Strong are part of an ongoing "Got Ethics?" campaign that the group launched earlier this year to call for ethics reform and to highlight lawmakers' ties to special interests.

Florida Strong said the mailers started arriving in Flores' constituents' mailboxes today. The group declined to say how much it spent for the mailers, which accuse Flores of being "part of the problem" of lawmakers accepting money from special interest groups. View it here.

"This in-district communication is a continuation of our statewide program to hold Florida legislators accountable and educate concerned citizens about policies that impact their lives," Florida Strong executive director Charly Norton said. "This past session, Senator Flores had an opportunity to pass real ethics reform legislation, but chose not to. Instead, she has kept open the loopholes that allow for the kinds of potential conflicts we see her personally benefiting from on the backs of Miami-Dade taxpayers. Senator Flores ought to answer these lingering questions and take action to address the rampant corruption and cronyism here in Florida."

From 2011 until last July, Flores was president of Doral College, which is run by Academica -- a for-profit company that's believed to be Florida's largest charter school operator. A few Miami-Dade Republican lawmakers, such as Flores, who have voted in support of charter schools have connections to Academica.

Florida has broad voting conflict laws for state officers. Legislators are only required to abstain from voting in narrow situations where they will be directly affected by new law or regulations. If a proposal could affect a them indirectly — through a family member or an employer — they can still vote.

Flores has defended her work with the college, which is still seeking accreditation.

"Doral College is an independent non-profit college that I did help establish with the mission of offering college access to low-income students at no cost to them or their families," Flores said in a text message last month, after a national Democratic advocacy group lobbed similar complaints of corruption against her through a web ad.

The attacks against Flores come as she faces a contentious battle for re-election to the Florida Senate in November.

In the District 39 race, she's competing against Democrats Andrew Korge and Daniel Horton, who are poised to square off in the Aug. 30 primary. The race is shaping up to be the most expensive Senate contest in the state, with $1.2 million raised by the end of March.