Rep. John Cosgrove, who also represents South Dade, says he also believes Jones was the man behind that amendment. "I'm certain he was responsible for it," Cosgrove says. "I didn't find out about it until after it passed, and I was a little concerned by it. It did create some controversy as people thought the legislature was giving a special advantage to HABDI."
Indeed, HABDI executives quickly took advantage of the measure and successfully pressured county commissioners to reverse their earlier decision not to apply for expedited review. (A rapid review became moot late last year when federal authorities ordered a new round of environmental assessments.)
Jones says he is dumbfounded by claims that he initiated the Bronson amendment. HABDI's Tallahassee lobbyist also denies Jones's involvement. If anything, Jones protests, he remembers "being offended" that Bronson would introduce an amendment affecting Jones's district without first asking him about it. He did, however, vote in favor of the bill as amended.
As his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing approaches, Jones says he does not mind having his political past or his relationship with Douglas James Securities examined. "I welcome the scrutiny," he offers, "but if you take a good look at the facts, I think you will find a really good story here." The success of Douglas James Securities and Craig James in particular is, he argues, impressive and inspiring. "It's a story about overcoming odds," Jones says. "We are breaking new ground every time we do a deal." Jones acknowledges that he may have helped Douglas James gain a certain entree, but the firm's proven ability has won it the respect it now enjoys.
Craig James is equally admiring of Daryl Jones. Even if the $200 million airport bond issue hadn't become controversial (owing to Bear Stearns's pique, in James's view), he would have found a way to include Jones in the deal. "We had a commitment with Daryl that if we were going to do senior-manager business, we wanted him to participate in it, because he was instrumental in people listening to us tell our story," James relates. "There is no question about it. His reputation, his integrity in this community, allowed us to come in and have people listen to us.