The two candidates in this race share many views -- stronger support for education and crime prevention, handgun control, better services for the elderly. We recommend Republican Jeanne Faiks because of her independence and straightforward approach to the issues. Faiks, 64, favors requiring all property owners to pay at least some tax and supports a state lottery to finance education.
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He's no Wall Street wizard, but state Rep. Jack Tobin knows why an investment banking firm hired him:
He's a legislator. He knows influential people, including city and county commissioners who decide which companies receive bond business.
That's business as usual in Florida's part-time Legislature, where public office provides a perfectly legal calling card to private employment. It raises an old question, too: whether legislators should be allowed to use their elected positions to enrich themselves.
"Are they going to hire an unknown? Are they going to hire Joe Blow? No," said Tobin, 47, a Margate Democrat. "They're going to hire somebody that's well-known. People like to do business with who they know."
Tobin, who lost his job with a troubled savings and loan company early this year, formed his own lobbying and public relations firm in March. Soon, he had his first client: Southeastern Municipal Bonds, a regional investment banking firm with offices in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
Southeastern was subsequently chosen by the Broward County Commission and School Board to manage bond issues. Both county boards had begun reviewing bond firms' applications by the time Tobin was hired.
Tobin contacted one county commissioner, Scott Cowan, and several school board members on Southeastern's behalf. But the board members said Tobin's connection and contacts did not influence their decision. What matters, they said, is a company's track record and its presentation.
Southeastern pays Tobin $4,000 a month plus commissions to represent them.
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