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How medical marijuana, powerful allies fueled rise of Orlando doctor now embroiled in Matt Gaetz sex scandal

How medical marijuana, powerful allies fueled rise of Orlando doctor now embroiled in Matt Gaetz sex scandal

In May 2014, just before the Florida Legislature passed the state’s first medical marijuana law, then-state House Reps. Matt Gaetz and Jason Brodeur teamed up to add a provision to the bill forcing any company that wanted to grow and sell cannabis in Florida to also hire a physician as medical director. One week later, records show, one of their friends — Orlando hand doctor Jason Pirozzolo, who had been on the floor of the state House that day — started a new consulting business providing medical directors to cannabis companies. Advertisement It was an entrance onto the ground floor of the...

Apr 16
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Records: Joel Greenberg doled out contracts to politicians, strategists tied to figures in Florida’s political scandals

Records: Joel Greenberg doled out contracts to politicians, strategists tied to figures in Florida’s political scandals

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Orlando Sentinel. Before he resigned in disgrace last year, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg doled out dubious contracts to a number of Republican politicians, political strategists and other allies, many with links to the scandals that have rocked Florida politics this month, according to audit documents, emails and other records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. The records also provide further details of Greenberg’s friendships with two of the...

Apr 13
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Joel Greenberg faces 33 federal charges. But why have state and local authorities mostly left him alone?

Joel Greenberg faces 33 federal charges. But why have state and local authorities mostly left him alone?

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Orlando Sentinel. Joel Greenberg, Matt Gaetz visited closed Seminole tax office together on weekend, source says. A woman was driving alone at 10:45 at night near Lake Mary’s Colonial Town Park when she realized a black sport utility vehicle with a flashing white light on its dashboard was following her. Barbara Hawkins was “suspicious and fearful for her safety,” she later told deputies, and kept driving. But the driver of the SUV persisted, pulling up close to...

Apr 2
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Florida Senate Democrats call for federal probe of ‘widespread and ongoing’ election attack

Florida Senate Democrats call for federal probe of ‘widespread and ongoing’ election attack

Florida Senate Democrats are urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate “widespread and ongoing” attempts to tamper with elections, citing last week’s arrest of a former state senator accused of paying a Palm Beach County man to put his name on the ballot of a Florida Senate race and a mysterious out-of-state organization’s contributions of more than $500,000 to send mailers touting candidates who did no campaigning. The Democrats on Friday also called for Senate President Wilton Simpson to form a special committee to investigate the matter, a tough sell in the...

Mar 26
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Did mysterious independent candidates swing Florida House, Senate races to Republicans?

Did mysterious independent candidates swing Florida House, Senate races to Republicans?

Independent candidates with clear ties to GOP donors and operatives whose names appeared on ballots in two competitive Florida Legislature races received enough votes to swing the outcome of those contests, possibly costing Democrats those seats. The little-known candidates running without party affiliation, known as NPAs, received more votes than the Republican candidate’s margin of victory, and if some of those ballots had been cast for their opponents, the Democrats could have won. Advertisement That was the case in the tight contest between Republican Fred Hawkins and Democrat Barbara...

November 6, 2020
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Florida’s unemployment mess: Which candidates want to fix it?

Florida’s unemployment mess: Which candidates want to fix it?

Cheered on by business lobbyists, the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 voted to make it harder for out-of-work Floridians to get unemployment insurance — and cut payments for those who qualify. Nine years later, as a global pandemic devastated the U.S. economy, those changes have added to the misery of hundreds of thousands of people who suddenly found themselves out of a job and short on state benefits. Now, the is being used by Democrats against their Republican opponents in legislative races across Central Florida — including two who voted for the cuts nine years ago....

October 12, 2020
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Will women voters turn Seminole blue in a presidential year?

Will women voters turn Seminole blue in a presidential year?

The suburban women of Seminole County may hold the keys to the White House and a slate of crucial state races. Women voters outnumber men by more than 26,000 and make up more than half of the electorate in the community just north of Orlando. That has helped transform Seminole, a once-reliable Republican stronghold, into one of the most important swing counties in the country’s most important swing state during this year’s presidential election. Advertisement The gender gap is also visible on the ballot itself, as Democrats have fielded female candidates in the contests for each of the...

October 5, 2020
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