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Ethically Upstanding Congressmen Turn Down Free Jerseys

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As all of you know, Florida is represented in Tallahassee by some of the most ethically impeccable men that our fine state has to offer. So it follows that I should provide yet another example of how our legislative delegation stood up for their principles and shunned the evil, influence-peddling Rays who attempted to buy their support with a $100 jersey giveaway. These brave men made the tough call and either turned back this handout, or reimbursed the team for the cost of the jersey.

Aren't we lucky to have such men of integrity as Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater) looking out for us? After being overtly solicited with this evil bit of bribery, he described an earlier instance in which the team attempted to infiltrate the ranks of the Florida power brokers.

In May, the team invited the delegation to attend a game against the Detroit Tigers, putting lawmakers in a box and aides in the stands.

"I asked ''Why are we being invited?' and they said 'We've never really reached out to anybody,' " Hooper recalled. He said a team representative said it was OK because they did not have a lobbyist. "They said, 'There no motive.' I can only assume now it was an effort to create warm and fuzzy feelings."

Hooper's office has called the Rays to find out how much the seats cost.

Would you look at that? How refreshing is it to have people like Rep. Hooper that go above and beyond to uphold the spirit of trust that Florida residents have in their elected officials.

Similar applause needs to go out to Rep. Rich Glorioso (R-Plant City), who like Hooper returned his jersey, and Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), who instead reimbursed the team for the jersey's retail cost.

So where did the corrupt Rays run afoul of Florida law? Well, it turns out that they didn't dismiss their lobbyist early enough. The team got rid of their lobbyist in Tallahassee during the month of February, just prior to the start of the regular 2007 legislative session. Because state law defines a lobbyist as anyone who advocates a particular interest for compensation over the previous 12 months, lawyers for the State House and State Senate informed the legislative delegation that they must return the jerseys or pay full retail value for them. More stringent lobbying rules were passed under the leadership of former Senate President Tom Lee (R-Brandon).

Nice to see that our honest legislative delegation can sure grandstand on ethics issues when they are brought out into the open. This state is blessed.

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Elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox have re-signed 3B Mike Lowell to a three year contract worth anywhere from $36-38 million, or about $12-13 million a year. Lowell was the World Series MVP during Boston's four game sweep of the Colorado Rockies last month. Lowell had reportedly sought an additional fourth year from the Red Sox, but he ultimately capitulated to the team's three year timetable before the end of a team-imposed deadline today. An announcement of the deal is expected tomorrow.