Attorney General Bill McCollum at Tiger Bay listen05/07/09 Seán Kinane
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Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum spoke this afternoon at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater.
The Attorney General is one of four members of the Florida Cabinet, along with the governor, chief financial officer, and the commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. McCollum oversees 12 offices with 1,300 employees, including 428 lawyers. They investigate both criminal and civil cases. McCollum says their consumer protection cases are divided into two divisions: antitrust and economic crimes, “and boy do we have a lot of business there now.”
Earlier this week WellCare Health Plans admitted it denied mental health treatments to children on Medicaid. But McCollum says the state won’t directly get any of the settlement money from the company.
The St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday on the cost of recent travel for two Florida elected officials. A flight to a Largo press conference on Monday by the CFO Alex Sink and three staffers cost the state $2,400. And last weekend, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp had a Florida state trooper drive him to a party for a lobbyist in suburban Atlanta. McCollum says that the state planes are needed so that officials can travel around the large state.
If Gov. Charlie Crist decides to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, it is possible that both Sink, a Democrat, and McCollum, a Republican, will run for governor. The Attorney General maintained on Thursday that he plans on running for re-election.
McCollum has been criticized for television ads he made earlier this year about cyber crime. The ads were produced by the same company that worked on his 2006 campaign. They cost $136,000 to make and there was no bidding process. McCollum says the ads “are very important” for getting parents and grandparents “to understand that they need to be involved” and have caused people to visit the Attorney General’s website.
The state agency that manages investments for the state pension and for local governments, the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA) lost tens of billions of dollars in 2008. According to a recent St. Petersburg Times investigation, the SBA “repeatedly misled clients and investors.” The SBA is overseen by the state Cabinet, but McCollum denied comment for the Times article. On Thursday, he said that most of the investment fund is in good shape.
McCollum represented parts of central Florida in Congress from 1981-2001. During President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial in the Senate, McCollum was one of the 13 House managers acting as prosecutors. McCollum was asked by a Tiger Bay member what it means to be a Republican. He replied that he served on four Republican Party platform committees in the past, and quote, “I think the basics are still there.”
The next Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting will be May 28. St. Pete Police Chief Chuck Harmon will speak at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.