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Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Newsmax's Favorite Senate Candidate Quits Race
Topic: Newsmax

Earlier this year, we detailed how Newsmax gave fawning news coverage to Florida Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos without disclosing that Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy served on the host committee for a Haridopolos fundraiser that reportedly netted him more than $100,000 for his Senate race.

Ruddy's investment seems to have gone for naught: Haridopolos has pulled out of the race. A July 18 Newsmax article puts the best possible spin on it, claiming that Haridopolos quit "to focus on his current job as president of Florida's senate" and embedding a YouTube video in which he announced his withdrawal. 

Needless to say,  Newsmax didn't mention Ruddy's contributions to Haridopolos' campaign. They also didn't mention the scandals that have been dogging Haridopolos and undoubtedly contributed to his withdrawal. Fortunately, more honest and less partisan news outlets did, like the St. Petersburg Times

In August, he could be deposed in the criminal case against former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer, who alleges the state fraud charges against him were part of a conspiracy by top Republicans, including Haridopolos. Greer says his fellow Republicans wanted to avoid paying him $124,000 in consulting fees.

Prior to the criminal complaint against Greer, Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon had signed a secret severance contract with Greer that promised him the fees. During the secret talks, Greer's lawyers say, the legislative leaders used go-betweens — including Bainter. Greer's go-between, Seminole County Republican Jim Stelling, said in a recent deposition that Bainter offered a $200,000 payment to make Greer go away.

"It's the right thing to do," Bainter said, according to Stelling. Bainter would not return calls.

Greer's lawyer, Cheney Mason, suggested that Bainter's departure from Haridopolos' campaign was tied to the criminal case.

"Some of the rats are leaving the ship because they won't lie under oath," Mason said. "I'm going to depose these political leaders involved in the conspiracy against Greer and give them an opportunity to perjure themselves."

The Greer situation was an embarrassment for Haridopolos, who denied signing the contract until Greer released it publicly in March 2010.

Later that year, as Haridopolos took over the reins of the Senate, he ran into a buzzsaw of controversy as he began laying off longtime staffers and hiring his friends and political acquaintances onto the Senate payroll, including future campaign adviser Arlene DiBenigno.

Before the 2011 session started, Haridopolos spent time defending an unusual $152,000 book deal with his former employer, Brevard Community College. Major universities, let alone community colleges, seldom pay professors to write books.

The book, Florida Legislative History and Processes, was full of such common-sense advice that Democrats mocked it by producing a coloring book — a maneuver that bothered Haridopolos, who warns candidates in his book about the challenges of running for higher office.

Newsmax previously gave Haridopolos a platform to explain away the book deal controversy.

UPDATE: And that's not all. Human Events notes an appearance on a right-wing radio show in which the host got so frustrated with Haridopolos' non-answers that the host kicked him off the show.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:36 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:03 AM EDT

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