Link Between Grayson, Tea Party Questioned - Roll Call
A subsequent article found that the payment to Torres was actually $20,000, not $11,000, and had much more details about the arrangements.One of Rep. Alan Grayson’s pollsters is running for the state House in Florida as a Tea Party candidate, fueling Republican suspicions that the Democratic Congressman is using a newly formed third party to boost his own re-election bid. A call to Torres was returned by Nick Egoroff, communications director for the Florida Tea Party, who described Torres as a “quasi-paralegal assistant who works in a law office.” But apparently, Torres is also a pollster.
According to records from the Florida Department of State office, Torres incorporated Public Opinion Strategies Inc. in December 2008. In the first quarter of this year, Grayson’s campaign made two payments to her firm, totaling $11,000, for polling and survey expenses. The name of Torres’ company is curious, considering Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies is one of the largest and best-known Republican polling firms in the country. Egoroff declined to say if Torres has worked for any other clients, and her company doesn’t appear to have a website.
“We definitely do not poll for Democrats, nor do we have an office in Orlando,” said Glen Bolger of the Virginia-based POS. “However, we do wish Congressman Grayson the worst of luck in November.” Dave Beattie, a prominent Florida-based Democratic pollster, also said he had never heard of Torres or her polling firm. A spokesman for Grayson confirmed that Public Opinion Strategies Inc. is one of three pollsters the Congressman has employed. Dr. Jim Kitchens is Grayson’s principal pollster, but his campaign also uses Middleton Market Research. The use of multiple pollsters simultaneously in the same cycle is highly uncommon for a Congressional candidate.
The Florida Tea Party was founded in August by attorney Fred O’Neal. Egoroff later signed on as communications director, and the party (including Dunmire’s Congressional candidacy) is promoted by Orlando political consultant Doug Guetzloe. Guetzloe and Egoroff were suspended by the Florida Republican Party late last year, but there are differences of opinion about why that happened. An extensive June 14 Orlando Sentinel article detailed multiple connections between Grayson and Guetzloe. The Congressman appointed Guetzloe to a small-business advisory panel, and Guetzloe’s son interned in Grayson’s Congressional office. In addition, Republicans note that the two men have a financial connection since Grayson is running campaign ads on Guetzloe’s conservative radio show.
Grayson Paid Company Formed By Fla. Tea Party Candidate - Politics News Story - WKMG Orlando
-Last year, a Democrat-turned Republican and a few friends founded a group called the "Florida Tea Party." One of those guys (Guetzloe) was very close to Alan Grayson (D), with his son interning in Grayson's office, Grayson appointing him to an advisory panel, and Grayson handing him money to advertise on his radio show. Guetzloe has also been convictied of election law violations.
-The Florida Republican Party kicked these guys out of the party. They were subsequently sued by other tea party folks who accused them of misappropriating the name to advance their own cause.
-The "Florida Tea Party" is running Congressional candidates in exactly three districts. Those three districts happen to be districts where the election is projected to be close and a third-party conservative could tilt the outcome toward the Democrats.
-The group is now also running a "quasi-paralegal" for a state senate seat. That "quasi-paralegal" just so happens to work for Guetzloe, the one who is close to Grayson and has been convicted of election law violations. She and that Guetzloe created a political consulting firm (based out of her house) with a name that is identical to that of a well-known Republican firm.
-Nobody in Florida has ever heard from her, and there's no evidence that she's worked on any campaign before now. Despite that, Grayson paid her $20,000 this year for "polling services," shortly before she announced her "Florida Tea Party" candidacy.
-In spite of the fact that she claims to be the owner of a political consulting firm that took in $20,000 over the past 6 months from Grayson, she filed an affidavit in an unrelated lawsuit in April stating that she had "no cash, no income, no potential income, no stock and no possible asset from any corporation." In a deposition, she stated "When Guetzloe requests things to be done, I do things for him that he asks for me to."
So what does all this add up to?
Is it proof of some grand conspiracy? No.
Is it proof that this group and all its candidates are plants? No.
Is it fairly strong evidence that there is some underhanded **** going on? Yes.
Many in Congress and on this site were adamant in their insistence that there be a criminal investigation in SC, where there was not even a hint of a link between the GOP and Alvin Green. I hope that those people will be as adamant in pushing for an investigation in this situation, where there are direct financial dealings between Grayson and two of the members of this group.
tl;dr: Grayson has given more than $20k to a sham corporation that was created by a friend of his through his paralegal. That same friend is heading up a group called the "Florida Tea Party" which is running candidates in races where Democrats will benefit from a splitting of the Republican vote.