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Burgin says she didn’t know about negative mailer

Posted Jul 18, 2012 by Joe Henderson

Updated Jul 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM

State Rep. Rachel Burgin told The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday afternoon she is not behind the controversial campaign mailer that attacked the personal life of Tom Lee, her GOP primary opponent for the District 24 State Senate seat.

Earlier Wednesday, Lee told The Tribune that he believes people associated with Burgin’s campaign were involved in the flier. It points out Lee is divorced and remarried and compares him to county Property Appraiser Rob Turner, whose political ambitions are jeopardized after admitting to an affair with an employee he later fired.

The flier was sent by a political committee led by the wife of Tallahassee lobbyist Jack Cory, who supports Burgin.

“I know they’re coordinating with operatives in the Burgin campaign,” Lee said.

Burgin said that’s not so.

“No, not at all,” she said. “I saw it when everyone else saw it.”

The flier drew a reprimand from the state’s GOP chairman for breaking an understanding that family matters were off-limits in a primary. Asked if she agreed with that, Burgin said, “What I don’t agree with is the Republican party in Tallahassee getting involved in a Republican primary. If anyone sho7uld be reprimanded, it should be those who violated their oath not to endorse someone in a Republican primary.”

Burgin said candidates have to agree not to take sides in a primary. Lee has received endorsements from several major GOP figures, including Attorney General Pam Bondi and incoming Senate President Don Gaetz.

“I’m not the establishment candidate,” Burgin said.

A letter written by lobbyist Marc Dunbar urges support for Lee because he is a “pro-gambling moderate” who supports the expansion of gambling in the state. Although Lee is well-known and popular in District 24, it is a largely conservative area where a pro-gambling stance could hurt him. Lee, who once launched an investigation into a company whose lobbyist was Dunbar, said he does not favor expanded gambling.

“Reasonable minds would have to conclude both those pieces (flier and letter) were coordinated by the Burgin campaign,” Lee said.

“I could care less about the letter,” Burgin said. “The reality is, I am a staunch, strong opponent of the gambling industry in Florida. I have voted against it every single time.”

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