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Growing chorus calls for Rickpublican Mike Haridopolos to step down

“If the Senate has any respect for itself, it will pass a resolution of no confidence in Haridopolos and urge him to step aside.”

Ocala Star Banner Editorial: A politician’s lies

Published: Monday, December 12, 2011 at 6:30 a.m.

Last Modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7:57 p.m.

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It’s amazing how some politicians feel free to say whatever is convenient for them when they’re talking to reporters or to the general public but make a 180-degree turn if they’re first required to swear to tell the truth.

The latest example is the president of the Florida Senate, Mike Haridopolos, who once aspired to run for U.S. Senate in 2012.

A few months on the campaign trail persuaded him that he had no chance, so he dropped out and headed back to Tallahassee where he’ll preside over the 2012 legislative session before retiring because of term limits.

The Jim Greer case continues to dog Haridopolos. Just before Thanksgiving, he had to give a deposition to a lawyer representing Greer, the former state Republican Party chairman who faces criminal charges involving misuse of party funds.

Under oath, Haridopolos admitted the obvious — that he and other Republican leaders had signed a settlement agreement in which Greer agreed to resign in return for a $124,000 severance payment in 2010. (Greer never received the payment, and he has filed a civil suit against party officials — including Haridopolos.)

The problem was that Haridopolos had previously denied having signed — or even seen — the settlement agreement. A Miami Herald reporter recorded his denial on a video camera in April 2010, so the Greer lawyer wanted to know how Haridopolos reconciled the conflicting statements.

“I believe what I told him [the reporter] was not the whole story, yeah,” said the Senate president. He elaborated by saying he thought the agreement was confidential and “I said the contrary because I thought I wasn’t allowed to talk about it.”

If that were the case, of course, he could simply have refused to discuss the matter. Instead, he chose to falsely characterize his own conduct at a time when the truth likely would have hurt him politically.

During a deposition, Haridopolos was sharply critical of Greer, saying he was “incredibly arrogant” and “incredibly unpopular” with people in the party.

In light of that, Greer’s lawyer inquired, why did Haridopolos join in by issuing a statement praising Greer’s service to the party? “It was a political statement,” Haridopolos answered.

So a “political statement” shouldn’t be taken seriously by the public? The problem with that is that politicians don’t label which of their statements are true and which are merely “political.”

Small wonder that so many people automatically disregard anything that comes out of the mouths of their elected officials.

If the Senate has any respect for itself, it will pass a resolution of no confidence in Haridopolos and urge him to step aside.

It wouldn’t be the first official rebuke of its president by the Senate.

In the most recent legislative session, the Senate agreed to a letter of admonishment to Haridopolos for improperly filling out financial-disclosure statements required of all elected state officials, but it imposed no punishment.

Haridopolos didn’t contest the charges but said the mistakes were inadvertent.

We doubt it.

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