Editorial: With enough dots, you can make a picture

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

Tallahassee, FL–The Florida Governor race is suddenly a lot more interesting after Florida State Senator Wilton Simpson’s prinicpal legislative staffer, Rachel Perrin Rogers, has come forward with a sexual harassment allegation against Florida State Senator and Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate, Jack Latvala.

First and foremost, Perrin Rogers’ claims must be thoroughly vetted; women are often subjected to unwanted sexual advances within the workplace from their supervisors and bosses.

The accuser should have every opportunity to present her case, especially now she has shown the courage to step forward and identify herself to both her accuser and the public.

But, Latvala wasn’t her boss, and according to text messages that the Latvala team shared with the media two days ago, it seems that the two had a friendly working relationship until quite recently. Text messages indicate that Perrin Rogers sent Latvala heart-shaped emojis and offered to bring Latvala food when he couldn’t leave his work duties to eat.

Perrin Rogers’ boss, though, is Simpson, a political ally of Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and fellow Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate. And her boss, according to a recent Tampa Bay Times report, has steered about $460,000 in political committee money over to her husband’s consulting company, Meteoric Media Strategies of Tallahassee, since 2013. Her husband, Brian Hughes, has also received about $10,000 from Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman, Lizbeth Benacquisto. Neither Simpson nor Benacquisto have yet agreed to recuse themselves from the very same Senate Rules Committee which oversees Latvala’s fate in the Florida Senate.

In yesterday’s Suncoast Standard editorial, “Connect the dots,” the paper raised questions about Perrin Rogers’ previous connections with PoliticoFlorida, since it originally “broke” the story on her sexual harassment claims in a November 3rd article.

Back in 2015, Perrin Rogers forwarded over to Politico writer, Marc Caputo, a video used in his Politico article, “Top D.C. lobbyist in ugly parking dispute.”

Caputo has been a lead or contributing writer for every anti-Latvala Politico story since late-October, a time frame when Latvala and Putnam began trading jabs about Putnam’s acceptance of money from utilities.

Today, sources shared with the Standard that Caputo and Perrin Rogers recently vacationed together in Key West and that she had posted the photos on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

A brief search for those pictures made it evident that Perrin Rogers has apparently disabled both of those social media accounts.

Marc Caputo
Photo: Facebook Pictured here: PoliticoFlorida writer, Marc Caputo, after appearing on MSNBC

In the Nov 30 Floridapolitics article, “Marc Caputo and me; how a bromance turned into a blood feud,” Peter Schorsch takes some of Caputo’s previous journalistic practices to task.

The Standard has attempted to contact Steven R. Andrews, the lead attorney assigned to defend Latvala against Perrin Rogers’ allegations, in an attempt to discover how many times Perrin Rogers made phone and e-mail contact with Caputo and other Politico staffers prior to her filing a complaint with the Florida Senate.

The Standard called Andrews but he was unavailable for comment at press time.

Most victims of sexual harassment don’t start the process by contacting Politico.

Submitted by Lou Newman, Publisher, on December 1, 2017 at 2:48 PM, Updated at 4:07 PM

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