Editorial: Connect the dots

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Senator Jack Latvala announcing his run for Governor on August 16, 2017. Photo: Zodee Auld.

It all started in an October 30 PoliticoFlorida article, “Florida politicians become surveillance targets as political payback rumors swirl,” in which a private investigator shared pictures of Florida State Senator Jack Latvala dining with three female lobbyists and kissing one of them after the meal in the restaurant’s parking lot.

The story was sensational. It was intriguing. But, the very pictures that were received and discussed were never shared with readers.

On November 3rd, on Latvala’s 66th birthday, PoliticoFlorida ran another story, “Six women accuse Florida Senate budget chair Latvala of groping, sexual harassment.” It upped the ante but Latvala called and stayed in the game by staying in the Florida Senate, and in the race for Governor, pledging to clear his name.

On November 29th, PoliticoFlorida wrote yet another article on Latvala, “Senate staffer who accused Latvala of sexual harassment, groping goes public.” The accuser, Rachel Perrin Rogers, is State Senator Wilton Simpson’s most influential staffer and political advisor.

She also had a very good working relationship with Latvala as text messages indicate in a Nov. 29 FloridaPolitics article “Text messages shed light on working relationship between Jack Latvala, accuser.”

Simpson is viewed by some political observers as both a political ally of Adam Putnam, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, and a legislative ally of Latvala. Simpson is a chicken farmer with strong agricultural ties. He’s also the next Senate President, in line after Negron, a position that Latvala lobbied and ran for but ultimately lost to Negron.

From left to right: Senator Wilton Simpson with Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam. (Photo: Facebook)

The recent Politico connections with Perrin Rogers involving her allegations against Latvala, both as an anonymous figure and as a known individual, are not the first connections between the legislative staffer and the news agency. In 2015, she voluntarily provided a video that she took with her phone that Politico used as the foundation of a nationally-based article “Top D.C. lobbyist in ugly parking dispute” which involved the wife of a previous Florida Lieutenant Governor.

Recently Putnam and Latvala battled about Putnam’s acceptance of big utility money.

Simpson successfully lobbied Duke Energy in 2016 to transfer $20,000 in political committee money into his own political committee and then transferred the same amount of money to another local Citrus County political committee in an attempt to try to pass last year’s failed ½ cent sales tax for schools.

Either Putnam or Latvala is going to get Governor Rick Scott’s endorsement to become the next Florida Governor.

Both candidates are viewed as moderate Republicans and are lobbying for similar groups and fundraising sources.

Neither Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, nor Ron Desantis, a current US Congressman, are in the running for Scott’s endorsement. Scott is enjoying favorable poll numbers for how he managed Hurricane Irma.

The Suncoast Standard has previously reached out to Putnam and Latvala for access. Putnam won’t return our calls or requests for contact in electronic requests. Latvala’s camp is communicating with us.

Latvala has already received early endorsements from first responders, such as firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police. Whoever gets the Scott endorsement may very well become the Republican nominee for Florida Governor.

Either Latvala sexually harassed Perrin Rogers or local energy giants have stepped into the Florida Governor’s race and Putnam just made a move for Scott support.

Adam Putnam and Rick Scott
Photo: Facebook/ Putnam wishing Scott a Happy Birthday in a lead generation ad.

Connect the dots.

Submitted by Lou Newman, Publisher, on November 30, 2017 at 1:39 AM. Updated on December 1, 2017 at 5:15 PM.

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