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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is now struggling to answer a simple question that has bedeviled many politicians: What exactly do you do for a living?

In Weatherford’s case, the answers are riddles within riddles.

During his six years in the legislature, the young Wesley Chapel Republican has filed reports stating the major source of his personal income as a company called Breckenridge Enterprises. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Breckenridge hasn’t been registered in the state of Florida since 2007.

When the newspaper recently asked about the speaker’s role with Breckenridge, he said he isn’t actually employed by that firm. The company he really works for is a Texas construction outfit called Diamond K Corp., he said, for which Breckenridge handles the payroll duties.

Except it doesn’t use the name Diamond K in Florida. There, it goes by T. King Construction, Inc.

Got all that?

Whatever the company is calling itself, it paid Weatherford $52,000 last year for unspecified consulting services. The speaker’s uncle, an investor in Diamond K, said Weatherford works on an unsupervised schedule, doing … well, something.

Weatherford also reported $31,500 in income from Red Eagle Group, which he said he founded in 2011 because he aspired to own a small business. However, Red Eagle’s money actually comes from a corporation called Simpson Environmental Services, which specializes in asbestos removal.

Simpson Environmental is owned by state Sen. Wilton Simpson of Trilby, who said Weatherford works diligently for the company but “doesn’t punch a time clock.” The speaker’s duties are somewhat fuzzy, but apparently they do not include personally peeling the dangerous asbestos from buildings.

Serving in the state legislature is theoretically a part-time commitment, so most lawmakers list their regular occupations. For those with real day jobs, this isn’t a problem.

Yet for those who spend almost all their time in Tallahassee, income disclosure can be tricky. To appear credibly employed is a challenge.

Being speaker of the House is a big-time gig, but it pays a relatively modest $41,000 a year. Still, House speakers typically get richer in that job because they’re offered well-paying outside positions with clout-seeking companies or universities where they seldom have to show up.

By the time Marco Rubio finished his profitable tenure as House speaker, he was pulling down more than $400,000 a year. He definitely wasn’t putting in 40-hour weeks with all the folks who were paying him, or he would have had no time to run the House. Rubio’s successor, Ray Sansom, didn’t fare so well. Sansom quit as speaker in 2009 after it was revealed that he’d helped steer $25 million in questionable funding to Northwest Florida State College, which was paying him a $110,000 salary for … well, something.

  • Allan Richardson

    A little bit of this, and a little bit of that … let’s just say “waste management.”

  • jointerjohn

    Corporations figure, “why pay money to lobbyists to influence state legislators when we can just turn our paid lobbyists into state legislators”? Americans need to wise up and stop paying attention to candidates’ campaign literature, just follow the money instead. In 2012 we dern near elected a man POTUS who refused to release his income tax records. Anything less than full disclosure of finances and sources should be an automatic disqualification from public office.

    • Independent1

      And especially when those candidates have been shown to be hiding money in places like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Ireland and who knows where else in order to get around paying his or her fair share of America’s taxes.

  • Independent1

    It’s nice to see articles that highlight the devious enterprizes that some our legislators get involved with, it’s unfortunate however that Amerca’s supposedly “liberal media” consistently avoids highlighting some of the devious transactions that political candidates, especially those running for president, have been involved with.
    At a time when America could really use help in stopping the slide of lost jobs and manufacturing industries, a guy that would later choose to run for president decided to further help the slide into a recession by undermining the recovery of America’s auto industry. Instead of supporting the bailout of GM and Chrysler, Mitt Romney chose to push for its bankruptcy for his own personal financial gains. He pushed hard to have President Obama not follow through with the bailout, so he and his hedgefund buddy Singer, could purchase GM and Chrysler for a song, strip it of its assets and free it from all its union jobs, so he and Singer could ship the entire American auto industry to China and Mexico; fortunately that didn’t happen or America may well have fallen into the GOP’s second created Big Depression.

    Unfortunately, Romney and Singer did succeed in doing just that to the auto industry’s primary small auto parts maker Delphi (which used to be Delco). Because the auto industry was foundering, Delphi was also struggling, so Romney and Singer were able to buy the company for 69 cents/share – destroy its 25,000 union jobs, pull out all its pension funds, dumping the responsibility for the company’s pension liabilities on the American taxpayers, pocketing millions of dollars in profits while they left almost 25,000 Americans without jobs at a time when America was really struggling. And this lowlife had the nerve less than 4 years later to claim that he was a great American job creator – what a farce!!! And yet unfortunately, what is suppose to be a “liberal Media” never published one word of this absolute atrocity during the election so Americans could see just how unAmerican, Mitt Romney is.

    Among many other companies he destroyed, Mitt Romney destroyed what was an American company employing almost 25,000 union workers and shipped their jobs overseas to companies now in China and Mexico that employ almost 100,000 – instead of working to help Delphi recover and slow the downslide of American jobs!

    And a kicker to all this, is that Romney and Singer actually tried to push GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy by initially refusing to provide them with the small parts they needed to restart production – fortunately the judge overseeing the buyout of Delphi insisted Delphi had to honor its contracts with GM and Chrysler as part of the buyout deal.

    • charleo1

      Great Comment! Every word of it true. Unlike the rumor, that during the Presidential campaign an attempt was made to plumb the depths of Mitt
      Romney’s greed. Unfortunately, there was not enough twine to actually
      hit bottom.

  • charleo1

    It’s a tight nit little bunch of opportunists we’ve got here in Fl. In fact, it’s only when
    they do not have a conflict of interest, they recuse themselves from voting. It all boils
    down to a matter of trust, like this. If the Legislator has money in say the Security
    Service, that’s bidding to take over the State’s prison system, and he votes to give
    them a big fat contract. Well, his colleagues understand that perfectly. On the other
    hand. If he has no ties, or investments in the corporations that compete with the
    public school system for State funds to build their business. He must recuse himself immediately, on the grounds he may inadvertently cause an already laid off public school teacher to be called back to work. Which would not only embarrass his
    fellow GOP, representatives. But could also cost everyone their all expense paid
    trip to Cozumel this fall. So, as their hero Ronald Reagan once said. It’s all about,
    “Trust, but verify,” with these guys. “Trust, but verify.”