Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senators Find Ways and Means of Interpreting `Conflict'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senators Find Ways and Means of Interpreting `Conflict'

Article excerpt

State Sen. John McKay, RBradenton, resigned as chairman of the

powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee this week amid concerns

over the appearance of a conflict of interest with a lobbyist.

But the top contender for his post, Sen. Fred Dudley, R-Cape

Coral, vice chairman of Ways and Means, the committee that

oversees the Senate version of the state budget, also has strong

links to lobbyists.

At present, one of Dudley's sons, Charles, is a lobbyist for

the telecommunications industry; another son, Chris, lobbies

for Education Commissioner Frank Brogan; and Dudley's

daughter-in-law, Alison Dudley, lobbies for long list of

clients, including the sugar and tobacco industries.

His sons and daughter-in-law are registered to lobby for a

total of 41 clients, with his daughter-in-law having all but two

of those.

But Fred Dudley says there's no call for alarm regarding

potential conflicts of interest.

"I have a policy with the kids that we don't talk about issues

they lobby for," Dudley said. "They do not lobby me on any

issues. We don't talk about issues. That's just my policy."

Dudley also said he sees no problem in being a close personal

friend of Lisa Henning, who lobbies for the Florida Pawnbrokers


This spring Dudley, sponsored a bill for pawnbrokers that

received widespread criticism for making it more difficult for

crime victims to claim their stolen goods. Dudley said he was

sure Henning spoke to him about that bill but that she was not a

key influence.

"There's not a conflict because it doesn't relate to committees

I serve on," Dudley said. "I don't even know who all Lisa

lobbies for."

In McKay's case, he is accused in a divorce trial of having an

affair with a Sprint lobbyist. McKay led the commerce committee

that played a key role in the passage of the 1995

telecommunications bill.

Senate President Toni Jennings , R-Orlando, who appointed McKay

to his Ways and Means post the day after the first published

reports of his divorce trial, said appearances do matter on

Tuesday when McKay resigned. …

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