Katherine Harris woes get worse by Mitch E. Perry

03/03/06

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported today that Congresswoman Katherine Harris a year ago sent a letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee seeking nearly $16 million for five projects that would benefit her district or companies located there.

A Navy counterintelligence project sought by Mitchell Wade, then the principal owner of defense contractor MZM Inc., was not on the list.

However, Harris later sought to add the MZM project more than a month after a March 18th deadline set by the subcommittee for members to submit funding requests.

Harris, sent a second letter on April 26 asking that the $10 million MZM project be added to her initial request and made it her No. 3 priority, bumping down three other projects.

Harris has not explained what changed, despite growing questions about her relationship with Wade.

Wade pleaded pleaded guilty last Friday to charges he bribed a California Republican Congressman, Randall "Duke" Cunningham, in exchange for millions of dollars in defense contracts, and that he gave illegal contributions to Harris and a Republican from Virginia, Virgil Goode. Cunningham was scheduled to be sentenced today.

This has been a terrible week for Harris, who until last night, had not released those letters she sent to the Appropriations Committee, chaired by Pinellas Congressman Bill Young.

Harris received $50,000 MZM, $32,000 of which has been ruled illegal, because it came from employees at MZM who were later reimbursed by Wade. She has donated that amount to a charity, Habitat for Humanity.

Justice Department officials have said their investigation is ongoing but would not say who might be a target.

Daryl Paulson is a professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. He said this week has been devastating for Harris, who is already trailing Democrat Bill Nelson badly in the race for US Senate (roll tape#1 o.q.�in the campaign�)

The St. Petersburg Times reported on Friday that even with events spiraling potentially out of control for the former Florida Secretary of State, Washington Republicans are now beginning to embrace her Senate candidacy. The Times reported that Senator Trent Lott’s political action committee gave her $10,000 this week alone.

But it has been no secret whatsoever that officials in Tallahasee AND Washington – including white House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove – have actively yearned for a candidate other than Harris to run against Bill Nelson, but to no avail.

Nelson is the only Democrat of any major stature currently in Florida state Politics, and his favorable rating has never risen above 50% in the past year, which shows he could be vulnerable.

But the Florida Republican Party, so dominate this decade, somehow cannot find a better candidate than Katherine Harris to run against him. USF St Pete Political Science Professor Daryl Paulson thinks it has to do somewhat with weakness at State Party headquarters (roll tape#2 o.q.�at this point�)

That’s USF St Pete Political Science Professor Daryl Paulson

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