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Collins: Citizen Russell Interviews Karen Thurman

Show Me the Money (& Listen to the Tape)

Citizen John Russell Interviews Florida
Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman

Transcript and audio tape of the July 16 interview

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, D.C.

Earlier this week, “Scoop” covered the controversy surrounding the Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Florida Citizens Versus Party Insiders. Florida news papers revealed that Florida Chairperson, Karen Thurman was lobbying for a law firm headed by Al Cardenas, the former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party. A powerful figure in Republican circles, Cardenas was open about the relationship and indicated that he may have more lobbying work for the prominent Democrat.

Thurman is paid $100,000 a year to be the full time chair of the party. She receives $3,500 a month to lobby for the Cardenas firm. In addition, she has a $100,000 a year lobbying contract with another group.

Florida progressives like John Russell are particularly upset at the lack of support provided to their campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives. Russell attended a Democratic Party fund raising event this Monday, July 16 in St. Petersburg, Florida. He approached Karen Thurman and engaged her in discussion. Russell had his video camera with him that captured the interview through audio recording. That audio recording can be found at YouTube at the link below. For some reason, YouTube displays the following message “Adding comments has been disabled for this video.” That may change by the time of publication. The restriction may have something to do with scheduled maintenance.

The interview is fascinating. Interviewer John Russell is a progressive Democrat and the recent candidate for the 5th Congressional seat in 2006. Karen Thurman, the current chair of the Florida Democratic Party and former Representative from the 5th; and, Al Cardenas, a prominent and highly influential figure in Florida legal and Republican political circles, was the former chair of the Florida Republican party;

-----------
Date of Interview: July 16, 2007, Monday evening

Florida Democratic Party Fund Raiser
Bella Brava Restaurant
515 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, Florida.

KT = Karen Thurman, Chair, Florida Democratic Party, Lobbyist.
JR = John Russell, citizen, progressive Democrat, candidate for Florida’s 5th Congressional District, 2006

YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM1qEtNIgSM&mode=user&search=

Tape starts.

KT: John how are ya?

JR: Very good Karen. Just drove all the way down to hear your side of the story on this Miami Herald thing.

KT: I’m not worried about it John

JR: They’re a lot of people are concerned about it.

KT: OK so what do you want me to say?

JR: If you worked for Pepsi, can you honestly you do some consulting on the side for Coke?

KR: Well I don’t work for Al.

JR: He signs the check doesn’t he?

KT: He does…no, his check comes from the Miami Dade County Commission who says, we need some democrats.

JR: The paper says you’re working on a number of lobbying gigs.

KT: No they said that I have the Miami Dada contract that he has. They said to him, since the Congress has changed to be Democrat, that they they want some Democrats representing them to Washington, DC. My former staff person Eric Gould, who worked as my counsel for Ways and Means, who worked at the Clinton White House (inaudible). They did a contract with me to help Miami Dade be able to talk about port security. That’s it.

JR: OK, so the deal is, the public, when we’re talking about a position that you hold and the public, being not as we’ll say sophisticated in the wiles and ways of government, the ordinary person, (and I’ve been that ordinary person I started out in your campaign in 2002 and prior to that Al Gore) walking the pavement, getting people out to vote, writing a check for any amount, (some times it’s a lot more painful to write a check for $25 than for $2500), OK, so the public is not really able to digest that that well, quite frankly, either am I, either are a lot of people…the concern is there is only one party in Florida, the money party, and you represent the Democratic side and Al Cardenas is representing the Republican side. Where do the ordinary people fit in? We only have so much time…

KT: John, excuse me. Let m ask you this, do you think port and airport security is important?

JR: Yes, I absolutely believe it’s important it’s important. And here’s what I would suggest. If this were truly an important issue to be working on with Republicans, would you have to take a check for it?

KR: You know John, it is a…. you know what

JR: Would you not have made a public announcement: ‘I’m going to be working for the Republicans on port security in an effort to…’

KR: You know John, to be honest with you; I never thought about this…The fact of the matter is I didn’t. I don’t know how this story began. The fact of the matter is … I had been lobbying before I took this job. I made it very clear I was going to be doing that. I am very selective in what I do and who I do what for. … and in this case , it is a agreement I made with a former employee of mine, who was my counsel for the ways and means committee, who worked for the Clinton White House, Eric Gould and I…

JR: …Well all that stuff is fine but it boils down to. You’re working for Republicans.

KT: I’m not working for the Republicans. I am working for Miami Dade County on port security. They requested Democrats to be involved because we became. … We took over.

JF: OK, I’m not going to accept that and neither are a lot of people, but the fact of the matter is we’re talking about pursuing a check that in somehow is passing through a conduit that includes Al Cardenas, the architect of Republican domination…

KT: Now has not fallen out of, out of the grace of Congress because of the fact the Democrats took over.

KT: Do you know how many K Street people are hiring Democrats today?

JR: That’s great!

KT: That exactly right. So we’re taking money away from Republicans.

JR: That’s just part of the money party insider game that leaves the people wondering where they fit in.

KT: John you know what, you and I are never going to agree on this.

JR: Well, no because People like myself and people who walk the pavement they don’t get paid to do what they do.

KT: So do I.

JR: But you’re getting paid $100,000 per year…

KT: and I left a job or was taken out of a job making over $150,000 and they came to me and they said to me and said please provide a leadership position in the Democratic Party. Right? Is that on. Is that on?

JR: I don’t know.

KT: Well I would, I would… If we’re going to have a personal conversation then I’m not going to talk to you if that’s on.

JR: Actually, yeah, well, I think the people want to know, if you cant talk about it on the record.

JR: I think that people deserve to know… If you can’t talk about it on the record… Well, I think people want to know.

KT: John, I have no problem talking about it on the record. I’ve made it very clear that I’m not afraid of this issue. I think it is perfectly OK for me to … John, now wait a minute, I have always had a lobbying company on the side before I took this over. And I said when I took it over there were people that knew that I was doing lobbying. I’ve always done that. …


JR: That’s fine. The point is, the point is you stated that when you took this job you left a $150,000 a year job and you made a choice to provide leadership

KT: I didn’t leave that job. I was doing that job and if you asked my DNC members they knew that I was doing some lobbying on the side. … It has not taken away from anything that I do. OK. I get criticized when I criticize Bill Young.… I am doing the same job that I did whether I am doing this or not…

JR: Well when people when you talk about for example, 2006 elections, people are concerned about how well that went…

KT: It went well.

JR: Well it didn’t go well!

KT: Yeah it did John!

JR: It did not go well.

JR: You can spin what you’re talking about it any way you want… Look at Glen Claytor. How many meetings did you have with Glen Claytor?

KT: John you know what. You and I are just gonna disagree… This why I am doing these kind of event so that I can have the money. OK. The fact of the matter is how much money did Glen raise? How much money did you raise?

JR: And how much money did your son receive from the Florida Democratic Party?

KT:, I told you this… my son raised $60,000 dollars, he received little or nothing… there was not one mailing. You know what… you and I are…

JR: Yes he did. I have his finance report right here. The finance report is right here… He received $11,000 from the in in-kind

KT: Oh my God!

JR: and $4,000 in a check. (See appendix for financial records)

JR: and that’s the finance report and you just told me again… after Citrus County...

KT: John, you know what, you know what, I’m trying.

JR: Thank you very much, Thank you very much. Very nice seeing you.

Tape Ends

ENDS

Permission to reprint or reproduce with a link to this article in “Scoop” Independent News and attribution of authorship.

Note: In the previous article on Florida’s Democratic Party, I mentioned several very promising house candidates who failed to get any support from the state party. I left out one of the best, former Marine and union member, Joe Roberts A Native of the Panhandle from a Working Class Family

Appendix:


Florida Department of State Campaign Finance Report for Macky Thurman.
Florida Democratic Contributions on Record: $15,000.00.

http://election.dos.state.fl.us/cgi-bin/contrib.exe

Search Criteria:

Detail of Candidates

Election Year: 2006 General Election

Office: State Representative

Party: All

With Candidate Last Name Starts With: Thurman

Sort Contributions By: Contributor Name

And Then Sort By: Candidate/Committee Name

Candidate Information, etc. Contribution

Thurman, Macky (DEM) (STR) 09/28/2006 $2,000.00
INK FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
214 SOUTH BRONOUGH STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301 STAFF

Thurman, Macky (DEM) (STR) 08/21/2006 $7,053.00
INK FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
214 S BRONOUGH STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301 POLLING-TDM RESEARCH

Thurman, Macky (DEM) (STR) 08/22/2006 $2,000.00
INK FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
214 BRONOUGH STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301 CONSULTANT - MELANIE R

Thurman, Macky (DEM) (STR) 10/25/2006 $4,000.00
CHE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
214 SOUTH BRONOUGH STREET
TALLAHASEE, FL 32301
________________________________________________

Total FDP Contributions to Macky Thurman $15,000.00
.


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