Davis Campaign Calls on Smith to Return Tainted Contributions to Florida Taxpayers by Mitch E. Perry

07/06/06

A day after Florida’s former top corrections secretary and chief lieutenant admitted that they received $130,000 in kickbacks from a vendor during the past 2 years, the issue is now becoming part of the Democratic race for Governor.

That’s because that vendor – widely assumed to be the American Institutional Services- has been a key financial contributor to gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith.

That led Tampa Area Congressman Jim Davis today to call for Smith to contribute $30,000 to the state treasury. That’s because American Institutional Services contributed $30,000 to a political action committee – Floridians For Responsible Government – that was working to see Smith elected. The 527 group has since disbanded.

According to a plea agreement announced yesterday, James Crosby and Allen Clark admitted to helping set up a subcontract with a vendor to provide concession services to visitors at state prisons.

That vendor – assumed to be American Institutional Services, was founded 2 years ago by Edward Dugger, a lifelong friend of Senator Smith.

Josh Earnest is the communications manager for Jim Davis (roll tape#1 o.q.�Florida Taxpayer�)

Josh Earnest: We're calling for Senator Smith to return the $30,000.00 in proceeds from a corrupt state contract back to its rightful owner, the state taxpayers of Florida.

Mitch Perry: Now Senator Smith had already refunded $3250 in campaign contributions from Dugger and American Institutional Services a while ago. Why are you calling for him now for this other group that's not theoretically affiliated with Rod Smith?

Josh Earnest: Sure. AIS is actually the largest benefactor of Senator Smith's campaign. This money was used in direct coordination with Rod Smith's campaign staff to publicize his campaign and to promote his political ambition. That $30,000.00 is money that was obtained, and the rightful owner of that $30,000.00 is Florida's taxpayers. That is money that the Smith campaign used to promote his campaign for governor. We think that money should be returned to its rightful owners, which is the Florida taxpayers.

Smith has already said he has refunded $3250 in campaign contributions from Dugger and AIS… Dugger also gave to the two Republican gubernatorial candidates, Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who both say will return that money.

Last month, Smith told the St. Petersburg Times he had known Dugger for 30 years and didn’t believe he had done anything wrong.

And though he did give back the money he received from Dugger, Smith will not give the $30,000 back. And instead of being on the defensive, the Smith campaign is now attacking Davis, specifically of using ‘smear tactics’. David Kochman is a press spokesman for Rod Smith (roll tape#2 o.q.�here again�)

David Kochman: For the Davis Campaign to imply that Rod Smith had anything to do with the issues concerning and Mr. Crosby or Mr. Dugger is simply wrong, and it's just another example of Jim Davis bringing Washington style smear politics down here to Florida. He's doing exactly what campaigns do when they're in a freefall. They go on the attack.

Mitch Perry: In your press release you have sent out, you're basically saying this is something that Jim Davis has done throughout his career.

David Kochman: That's correct. He has a history of launching smear attacks against his opponents. One of his home town papers called him out for it in editorial in 1996, and he's doing the exact same thing here again.

Previously, the group Floridians for Responsible Government, said they could not return the money they received from the American Institutional Services, because they had already spent the money.

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