By Jim Bleyer
The five-month financial report filed by the Straz for Tampa PAC contains glaring omissions and possibly intentional misinformation geared to sanitize the participation of public relations executive Bill Carlson and his firm, Tucker-Hall.
It’s the latest in a series of dreadful missteps by Straz and the cabal supporting him.
Straz, who formed an exploratory committee for the 2018-19 mayor’s race, still has not officially entered but his PAC must file contributions, both financial and inkind, and all expenditures.
Heavy fines can be imposed for campaign reporting violations.
Carlson helped recruit Straz to run, gave office space to the campaign, and hosted focus groups designed to identify important issues. Carlson, now denies he has anything to do with what is perceived as a farcical effort and refuses further comment. The Sgt. Schultz routine.
Weeks prior to delivering a spot-on imitation of Penn Jillette’s sidekick, Carlson told Tampa Bay Beat Straz was instrumental in a collaborative mission to defeat former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, a strongly rumored candidate for mayor.
Carlson used the phrase “at all costs.” On that, he was absolutely correct.
Al Fox, Straz’ de facto campaign manager, is anchored at Tucker Hall and company conference rooms were used to host focus groups. One can safely assume that they were facilitated by Tucker Hall employees with experience and expertise, not Fox.
With crisis intervention one of his firm’s advertised specialties, Carlson has proven more adept at exacerbating traumatic situations instead of extinguishing them. Marcel Marceau wouldn’t comment about a rumored $100,000 payment to Tucker Hall by the Straz campaign.
Harboring his own political ambitions, Carlson has done anything but help himself in that direction.
As one can see from the above report, filed with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, Fox lists Suite 2760, One Tampa Center, as the Straz campaign office. Those are the offices of Tucker Hall whose name is on the lease.
Vince DiMaio, a longtime Democratic operative, also contributed to Straz who supported and voted for Trump. The City of Tampa elections are “nonpartisan” but in reality neither party distances themselves once the gloves come off.
Straz for Tampa shows $256,400 in total contributions with Straz himself kicking in $250,000 when the PAC was formed five months ago. He has collected an anemic average of $1,280 a month from outside sources with no contributions during the month of January, the latest reporting period.
Total expenditures are listed at a paltry $19,566.09. January’s $2,556.25 in expenses were earmarked for accounting services, and political and special event consulting.
It is widely rumored in Tampa political circles that Straz was orignially prepared to spend $2 million in his quixotic quest. That kind of dough would be welcomed by many local charities. Tampa Bay Beat has uncovered some nasty stuff about the South Tampa socialite and the campaign has only just begun:
—Straz served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Nevis, a notorious offshore magnet for money laundering used by criminals and terrorists. The David Straz Jr. Foundation is the second largest depositor of funds in the Bank of Nevis.
—The number one water hog in all of Hillsborough County during drought conditions, Straz has no record of any environmental awareness.
—He supported the Donald Trump campaign and voted for him but when Straz formed his “exploratory committee,” he announced he will not vote fo Trump in 2020. He also changed his registration from Republican to Independent. The City of Tampa is predominantly Democratic.
—-Straz has railed against Millennials asserting in a recorded interview that generation is lazy and has no ethic. He declared his daughter, who worked a 30-hour a week summer job and has no college debt, an exception.
—-Straz proudly and publicly proclaimed his foundation chipped in $10,000 to the already $100,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest of the Seminole Heights serial killer. Incredibly, the simplest reward posting was a botched effort as Straz failed to coordinate the move with law enforcement authorities, according to protocol. The mayor of Tampa oversees a police department and that relationship requires collaboration and communication in far more complex matters than adding reward money for a fugitive.
—Straz claims the Tampa Bay Times requested he invest $1.5 million in its 2017 influence peddling effort that reeled in approximately $15 million. He asserts that he rejected the offer but as Tampa Bay Beat reported, the episode casts him in a negative light.
—So far, Straz has shown an inability to articulate the issues but emanates a pronounced awkwardness on the campaign trail. He’s hardly ever seen at an event without Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin at his side.
Straz is huffing and puffing after the first 40 yards of a marathon.