Jeff Kottkamp. Some may still draw a blank when they hear the name, but others may remember the controversy—a family vacation to St. Augustine courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol’s aircraft (an expense that wasn’t reimbursed until nearly two years later after multiple media outlets, including JaxPoliticsOnline.com, starting making records requests about it), bodyguards that cost the taxpayers of Florida $700,000 and multiple controversies involving state aircraft. Well, Charlie Crist’s Lt. Governor seems not to have learned a thing from the spate of ethics complaints that have flooded into Tallahassee.
According to the St. Pete Times, just as the Lt. Governor was under full attack for his extravagant traveling ways (on the taxpayers dime, of course), Messr. Kottkamp engaged the Florida Highway Patrol to drive he and his wife to Atlanta for a surprise birthday party—for a Tallahassee lobbyist.
In a state-owned vehicle, Kottkamp and his wife joined lobbyist Steve Metz and family members at a Saturday night concert in Peachtree City, Ga. featuring Kenny Loggins, a soft rock singer-songwriter popular in the 1970s and ’80s.
Kottkamp said the taxpayer-funded drive was legitimate and noted that the law requires the Florida Highway Patrol to provide security protection for him 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a public or private event. They’re there to provide safety and security, whether it’s the governor or for me,” Kottkamp said. “If I’m traveling, whether it’s state business or not, if they’re going to be providing meaningful security, it’s going to be all the time.”
Perhaps the most amusing piece to arrive out of this newest scandal is the revelation that Kottkamp is considering a run for Florida Attorney General if Crist decides not to run for re-election. I’m sure the Democratic Party would love nothing more than to run a race against a man facing multiple ethics complaints, but Kottkamp doesn’t appear ready to give up those Tallahasee perks. (Although…one wonders…would he actually move to Tallahassee if he were to theoretically win the Attorney General post? After all, becoming Lt. Governor certainly didn’t necessitate a move.)
(Photo used courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel.)