Palm Harbor, Florida – Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian candidate for governor of Florida, is calling into question the relationship between Dean Ridings, the Florida Press Association and the Democratic Party of Florida, and possibly, Charlie Crist. This week, the Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida, two organizations for which Mr. Ridings serves on the board, were successful in federal court to exclude Mr. Wyllie from the largest televised gubernatorial debate in 2014.
These claims stem from the fact that Intersect Media Solutions, a subsidiary of the Florida Press Association, is conducting business with a well known Democratic consulting firm Greer, Margolis, Mitchell and Burn (GMMB) and their interactions with Democrat candidate Charlie Crist.
Intersect Media Solutions, who is owned by the Florida Press Association’s for-profit company, Florida Press Services, provides marketing research and media advertising purchases for marketing companies around the state and country. One of their clients, Greer, Margolis, Mitchell and Burns is a political consulting firm located on K Street in Washington DC and is known for running campaigns for major Democratic candidates including Barrack Obama and, most recently, Charlie Crist.
GMMB’s partner, Brad Perseke said, “I call them for virtually all of our newspaper advertising. Working together with Intersect Media Solutions, our agency can focus on all aspects of a client’s campaign while with Intersect Media Solutions’ [sic] provides us with the necessary research and data needed for effective newspaper advertising,” when speaking of their relationship with Intersect Media Solutions.
This election cycle alone GMMB has done extensive work with the Charlie Crist campaign and the Democrat Party of Florida. The company [Greer, Margolis, Mitchell and Burns] has been paid $6,455,903.22 this election cycle with $1,888,859.67 coming from Charlie Crist, $4,101,653.40 from the Democrat Party of Florida and $465,390.15 coming from SEIU of Florida. While it is unclear if GMMB used Intersect Media Solutions for either Charlie Crist or the Democratic Party of Florida in this year’s gubernatorial election, it is clear that Intersect Media Solutions does, and has, profited from the Democrat Party and its candidates.
The Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida set debate criteria in August of this year, after having the knowledge that Adrian would be polling at least as high as 12% and, at the time, slightly hurting Charlie Crist. The person who makes that decision, and sits on both boards, is Dean Ridings who is not only the president of the Florida Press Association and Intersect Media Solutions but also sits on the board of directors of Leadership Florida.
“At this point, given the circumstantial evidence of an incestuous, multi-million dollar relationship between Dean Ridings, GMMB, and Charlie Crist, I have to call into question whether this was the ultimate reason for my exclusion in the debate,” said Wyllie. “It is clear to me now that when Ridings set the debate criteria specifically to exclude me, it was not based on public interest — it was based on personal profit motive.”
The campaign calls into question whether debate organizers can be a trusted source to the people of Florida when the president of the Florida Press Association and the association itself, through its subsidiaries, profits from candidates and campaigns. While it does not change the outcome of Wyllie’s exclusion in the debate, it is something that must be considered by the people of Florida.