Friday, August 28, 2009

George LeMieux is who?

  • George LeMieux is a fierce Charlie Crist loyalist seen as the Karl Rove of Crist’s election campaign (without the association to dirty tricks)
  • His appointment helps Crist’s election chances because it doesn’t create a rival for the seat nor does it put someone in the position with radically different views – it’s the closest thing to Crist appointing himself
  • He was a key figure in the negotiations of the U.S. Sugar Deal and the Seminole Gambling Pact
  • He is a former registered lobbyist who is not currently lobbying in an official capacity, although some claim he still is doing lobbying
  • He is relatively scandal-free, although he was taped on an undercover wire talking to convicted scammer Joel Steinger – contents of those wiretaps are not public at this point, it seems
  • Some Republican operatives worry that LeMieux might have some skeletons hidden in his closet (such as the Steinger wiretaps and other clients)
  • On the issues, he refers to himself as a “Charlie Crist Republican.”
  • He interned for Congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr. and U.S. Senator Connie Mack III. In 1994, he joined the law firm of Gunster Yoakley & Stewart P.A. in its Fort Lauderdale office. LeMieux is an AV-rated attorney, and is board certified in business litigation.
  • As chairman of the Tallahassee law firm Gunster, Yoakley, LeMieux has been close to major policies of the governor. That firm brokered the deal with U.S. Sugar for the mammoth (and deeply flawed) Everglades purchase. Currently, LeMieux is in the thick of negotiations for a compact with the Seminole Tribe.
  • LeMieux believes legislative inflexibility could lead to a failed deal.

    ``What's at stake here is whether we are going to have limited gaming in Florida,'' he said. ``If we do not approve a compact, I'm concerned the future of Florida is casinos in every part of our state.''

    John McCain's campaign is returning $50,000 of donations collected by a prominent Palm Beach County fund-raiser after questions were raised Thursday about how much a foreign national may have contributed.

    Harry Sargeant III, the Republican Party of Florida finance chairman and part owner of a Boca Raton-based oil trading firm, has been credited with collecting more than $500,000 for McCain.

    But about $50,000 of those contributions reportedly were solicited by Mustafa Abu Naba'a, Sargeant's Jordanian business partner at International Oil Trading Co.


    Sargeant, of Gulf Stream, is among 53 bundlers McCain has in Florida - more than he has in any state other than New York and California - who have combined to raise at least $9.2 million for the Arizona Republican this year. Obama has 23 bundlers in Florida who have collected at least $2.75 million.

    Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign collected at least $5,000 in 2006 from the same group of Californians that McCain's campaign is questioning. The Federal Election Campaign Act that prevents foreign nationals from participating in federal campaigns also applies to state and local candidates.

    George LeMieux, Crist's campaign manager at the time, said he was not planning to review those donations.

    "The elections process is not perfect," LeMieux said. "There has to be some trust in the process. And we feel comfortable that the process we had in place at the time was as diligent and professional as it could be."

    Among his civic and charitable commitments, LeMieux was the Chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, Chairman of the Jeb Bush Re-election campaign, Republican nominee for the Florida House of Representatives – District 92, and served on the City of Fort Lauderdale Beach Redevelopment Advisory Board. He has been a director for Goodwill of Broward County, as well as Riverwalk, Inc., and a trustee for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. In 2002 he was named one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Broward County by Gold Coast Magazine, and 20 People on the Fast Track by Fast Track Magazine.

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