Chris Dorworth, Future Florida Speaker, Mysteriously Went From Nearly Broke to Rich in a Year

In a little over two years, Chris Dorworth will be the second-most powerful man in Tallahassee. Barring some sort of momentous Democratic take over, the Republican has already been elected to serve as Speaker of the House from 2014 to 2016. Funny thing is, back in 2009, Dorworth was nearly broke. All the sudden in 2010, he had more than $700,000 in new assets, and he isn't explaining where the money came from.

Dorworth filed for divorce from his wife of 10 years in 2010. Records at the time showed that the couple's 8,200-square-foot home in Heathrow, Florida was hit with foreclosure in 2008. He was only making $2,500 a month as a state legislator with an additional $3,250 as a land-use consultant. His mortgage alone was $10,000 a month. He had also failed to make payment on a $1.35 million legal judgment levied against him stemming from a failed business venture.

His only assets were $40,000 in cash and a Chrysler Pacifica.

Even with Florida's economy in the midst of recession, Dorwoth managed to miraculously turn his fortunes around according to The Orlando Sentinel. In 2010 he somehow had a $713,000 stake in the Delaware-based Madison Christopher Holding Co. LLC , and was paid $72,000 that year by the company. Little else is known about the company, and no other partners have been disclosed.

One of the major sources of income for Madison Christopher Holding Co. is a company owned by Jim Palmer, a powerful developer in Central Florida. He stands to make millions when the Wakiva Parkway, a toll road, is completed. Coincidentally, Dorworth happened to be a major supporter of the Parkway.

Dorworth also has business ties to Scott Batterson, an engineer who now sits on the committee overseeing the construction of the parkway. Their financial connections were not disclosed until after Dorworth recommended to Governor Rick Scott that Batterson be named to the commission.

The Orlando Sentinel breaks it down like this:


Well, try this in short: Dorworth, Batterson and Palmer all have had business ties with one another. And now, thanks partly to Dorworth, Batterson serves on the expressway board, which could help Palmer make millions.

The average motorist will also feel the financial effects of the parkway next year -- with higher tolls.

Palmer's company, Rochelle Holdings, was just one of Dorworth's "major sources of business income." The other is an environmental-cleanup company, AshBritt Environmental -- a company that the state of Florida paid $11.3 million to help with the BP oil spill last year.

Dorworth isn't saying anything about any of this.

Sentinel reporter Scott Maxwell has now hounded Dorworth repeatedly about the business venture and his sudden riches. Dorworth's staff requested that he send any question in written form. Maxwell sent 21, and Dorworth refused to answer any them.

This isn't the first time Dorworth's handling of money has come into question. Dorworth financed his bid to become Speaker with money from his reelection campaign fund. About 30 percent of the funds used went straight into Dorworth's own pockets, as he claimed reimbursement for things like a flight to Miami for the Super Bowl and a $527 stay at the Biltmore hotel in Coral Gables.

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Kyle Munzenrieder