Republicans up in Tallahassee are so used to giving money to things associated with Miami-based power lobbyist Ron Book that they ended up giving $1.5 million to a nonprofit run by his daughter Lauren Book that she didn't even ask for or apparently need. The odd moves came as those very same politicians were yapping about fiscal responsibility and wallet tightening.
In an actually useful story, The St. Petersburg Times reports that the younger Book's nonprofit Lauren's Kids, which aims to protect kids from sexual abuse, was awarded $1.5 million to "24-hour abuse hotline and pay for sexual abuse prevention education in schools." Thing is, that Lauren's Kids already does both of those things and wasn't asking for any money to continue doing so.
However, Book's nonprofit did ask for $3 million to finance a program to help victims of sexual abuse relocate, but that wish was never fulfilled.
Despite slashing $3.8 billion from the budget, Senate President Mike Haridopolos agreed to finance the relocation program. Then during the last day of the session the Florida house came along, halved the money, and decided it should be used for something else entirely.
Though, both Books will take the money.
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"While I recognize the interest in writing about this, I don't want anyone to think it's simply plopped down without a need,'' Ron Book told the paper. "This is one of the most underfunded and neglected areas of Florida's budget."
House legislators didn't think $3 million would cover all of the program, and could interfere with funding for similar programs so changed the money at the last minute.
"Even Ronnie Book was not happy,'' Sen. Mike Fasano said. "The relocation program was a priority of his... I don't know why they did what they did at the end, but it was a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing."