El Jefe

John Thrasher, Likely Florida State President, Is Ethically Challenged

John Thrasher, a Florida Senator and now the lone candidate for president of Florida State University, doesn't deserve the job.

Thrasher, a Republican lawyer, was reprimanded on the House floor back ithe 1990s after appearing as a lobbyist for his longtime employers, the Florida Medical Association. A year after leaving office, he had to pay a $500 fine after hosting a luncheon for his State House pals -- state law prohibits pols from lobbying for two years after leaving office.

In 2010, another controversy arose when it was disclosed that he had earned a $1.6 million from a lobbying firm that advocated for a bill he was pushing. Though he denied ever lobbying on behalf of the law -- Senate Bill 6, which would help two out-of-state firms get a foothold in Florida high stakes testing, the deal stunk, "Thrasher could find himself answering a lot more uncomfortable questions," concluded blogger and columnist Joy Reid.

That same year, disgraced Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer claimed in a lawsuit that Thrasher and two others had agreed to a secret severance for $124,000 as well as $200,000 in hush money so he wouldn't talk about it. Really, a university president who has agreed to pay hush money??

I covered the Florida legislature during the early years Thrasher was in office. The man was brusque, hard to reach, and always seemed to have multiple motivations for his actions.

Florida State is perhaps this state's top educational institution -- definitely one of the best two or three. Students there deserve a better role model.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse