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Florida GOP lives large at donor expense

By Doug Thompson
April 12, 2010

Officials and staff members of the Florida Republican Party piled up nearly $1.3 million in questionable charges on an American Express card and donors to the GOP paid the bill.

The charges went on the Amex card given to a 25-year-old staff members two-and-a-half years ago and various members of the state party used the card to charge a $40,000 London hotel bill, $20,000 in plane tickets for the wife and family of indicted Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom and thousands of dollars in jewelry, sporting goods and electronics.

The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times got a look at the lavish spending on Melanie Phister’s Amex Card and found GOP officials and staff lived large at donor’s expense.

Phister said she was not aware of much of the spending on the card issued in her name. Bills for charges on the card went directly to the state GOP and were paid without her review or knowledge.

“I did not have the sole discretion to initiate credit card spending,” Phister told the Miami Herald in an email. “Over that period of time, there were multiple instances when the card was used to make purchases that I had no lkowledge of, and I did not regularly review the monthly credit card statements which understand were sent directly to the Party’s accounting office.”

Full Story on the Miami Herald web site

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