Florida Talker Embroiled In Tea Party Controversy, Loses Show
June 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM (PT)
ORLANDO conservative Talk show host and political activist DOUG GUETZLOE has landed in the middle of a growing controversy over whether his FLORIDA TEA PARTY organization is collaborating with incumbent Democratic Congressman ALAN GRAYSON (D-FL) to split Republican votes and guarantee GRAYSON's re-election. Included in the controversy is the cancellation of GUETZLOE's show on STAR OVER ORLANDO Talk WEUS-A/ORLANDO.
CBS affiliate WKMG-TV and ROLL CALL are reporting that GUETZLOE helped FLORIDA TEA PARTY state House candidate VICTORIA TORRES start a corporation called PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES INC,, and that GRAYSON's campaign has spent $19,898 with TORRES' firm. TORRES, who WKMG-TV says has worked for GUETZLOE on and off for years and is represented by O'NEAL, swore in court papers in APRIL that she has no cash or income from any corporation, then said in her financial disclosure paperwork for her candidacy that she earned $10,000 from PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES, the owners of which are undisclosed.
None of the alleged transactions between GRAYSON's campaign and PUBLIC OPNION STRATEGIES is illegal if reported in full, but if true, would lend credence to the charge that GRAYSON is helping fund the third party opposition.
GRAYSON has denied GUETZLOE is involved with his campaign but refused to answer a question about how he found and why he paid TORRES' firm; his campaign said that some of the money paid for a poll to show that GRAYSON is so popular that he could win the Republican primary if he ran in it. GRAYSON has also bought ads on GUETZLOE's show, and WEUS owner CARL COMO TUTERA told WKMG that GUETZLOE companies were involved in proposed or actual time buys by the GRAYSON campaign. GUETZLOE has also been appointed to a small-business advisory panel by GRAYSON, and GUETZLOE's son has interned for GRAYSON.
GUETZLOE and attorney FREDERIC B. O'NEAL's FLORIDA TEA PARTY is backing PEG DUNMIRE in GRAYSON's district. A group of rival "tea party" supporters is suing the FLORIDA TEA PARTY claiming O'NEAL and GUETZLOE are profiting from confusing the public by misuse of the "tea party" name; A hearing is set for WEDNESDAY in the federal suit on a motion by GUETZLOE and Communications Dir. NICK EGOROFF to dismiss the suit as frivolous, and GUETZLOE has countersued two of the plaintiffs plus their PR consultant and another activist for defamation and other charges.
Producer RAUL PANTOJA has also exited WEUS after filing to run as a FLORIDA TEA PARTY candidate for the FLORIDA House.