Politics

Is Lauren Book's Charity Being Used for Political Gain?

As she climbed the hill leading to Florida's State Capitol last spring, Lauren Book broke from a walk into a run. The 29-year-old blond with a pink ribbon wrapped around her ponytail raised both arms in triumph and flashed a huge smile as she crossed the finish line of the Walk in My Shoes charity event. Her father, Ron Book, perhaps the most influential lobbyist in Florida, trotted beside her in running shorts.

Lauren had walked 1,500 miles, having started in Key West 42 days earlier on a mission to bring attention to childhood sexual abuse. When she trekked through South Florida, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra called her an "angel." When she was in Orlando, abuse survivors fought back tears as they joined her. During a postwalk news conference on the Capitol steps, Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz bragged about freshly passed legal reforms that would crack down on sex offenders -- ideas "that were on Lauren's mind, that ended up on my legal pad, that are now in the laws of Florida." When it was Gov. Rick Scott's turn to speak, he called them laws "I had the honor to sign."

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Deirdra Funcheon