March 1, 2002
The Florida House of Representatives
On Thursday, The Palm Beach Post implied serious criminal misconduct based on inaccurate reporting and the recommendation of their reporter by day, fiction novelist by night employee, Mr. Shirish Date. As far as I understand, Mr. Date is not an attorney, nor did The Post consult with any legal advisors before recklessly and maliciously making these false accusations.
The woman in question in The Post story, Bridgette Gregory, serves the Office of the Speaker as a legislative analyst, working often times fifty plus hour work weeks coordinating all appointments to boards and commissions on my behalf, meeting with elected officials and citizen's of Florida on my behalf, and managing my very complex and detailed calendar, among other duties.
The Post maliciously scrutinized Ms. Gregory's background, contacting her friends, family, colleagues, and even a restaurant that she worked in when she was eighteen years old and working her way through college. The questions asked by Post reporters were often pejorative in nature, sexist, and in my opinion character assassination. To that, I take great offense.
Ms. Gregory took an unpaid leave of absence last fall in order to help coordinate some of the initial needs of my exploratory campaign. In response to The Post's inaccurate reporting, all campaign related coordination was conducted on a cellular phone that had no expense to the taxpayers, and all campaign related emails were coordinated on a personal email account. The only improper action found by the House General Counsel, Tom Tedcastle, was an abundance of personal calls to family and friends on her state paid cellular phone, and a personal check by Ms. Gregory was written to cover that cost.
I strongly believe that it is unacceptable to exploit political power to influence personal gain, and if I had any doubts that the actions of Ms. Gregory were not legal and ethical, the appropriate action would have been taken immediately. Unlike The Palm Beach Post whose irresponsible accusations cited no legal opinion, under questions of such a serious matter, The House of Representatives consulted with the appropriate legal experts who deemed Ms. Gregory to have acted appropriately and within the guidelines of law.
I reiterate that The Palm Beach Post, Mr. Date and other contributing reporters reported inaccurate facts, made irresponsible and unchecked assessments, and committed character assassinations on a woman who works diligently for the people of the state of Florida.
I have included the legal opinion of House General Counsel, Tom Tedcastle, in regards to these accusations debunking each of the myths The Palm Beach Post asserted in their story. I urge you to take immediate corrective action in this matter.