Another Tant Contribution Questioned

In recent days more chatter has come up about Allison Tant’s previous contributions to Republicans. I’ve received a few inquires about a contribution to Rep. Marti Coley in 2006. Coley the current Speaker Pro Tempore of the Florida House is the widow of her husband, David who she succeeded in the House.

Coley, Marti (REP)(STR) 06/14/2006 250.00 CHE TANT ALLISON

Coley’s legislative record has been that of a partisan ideologue and this contribution was made long after Tant completed her lobbying career. Coley has a lifetime 97% rating from the conservative pro-business advocacy organization Associated Industries of Florida.

Rep. Coley has been been embroiled in controversy about her taxpayer funded job at Chipola State College recently,which has been alleged as a conflict of interest for the lawmaker.

The (Panama City) News-Herald wrote the following in early 2011:

MARIANNA – At the July 2009 groundbreaking for Chipola College’s new center for the arts, college president Gene Prough touted the planned 56,000-square-foot facility as a showplace for the performing arts in the Panhandle.
Prough thanked Marti Coley, whose titles include both state representative and special assistant to Prough at Chipola, for helping the arts center become a reality. At the college, Coley’s responsibilities include soliciting financial support from individuals, corporations, foundations and government entities, according to a job description approved by Prough in June 2008.
In the fundraising arena, she has proven to be a success.
During the 2007 legislative session, Coley, as lawmaker, got $11 million allocated toward the $16 million project, according to state budget documents reviewed by The News Herald.
Later that year, an unadvertised staff position was created for Coley, who had been working for the college on a contractual basis. That position ultimately upped Coley’s salary by 33 percent, a move that became a point of contention for instructors who said they hadn’t received decent raises in years.   

Conservative message board posters in northwest Florida have recently characterized Coley as an “embarrassment to the GOP”  and “not a true conservative but simply a party hack.” This has been largely due to the Chipola controversy.

Obviously Allison Tant has nothing to do with the controversy at Chipola but questions again must be asked by Democrats as to why she donated to Coley’s campaign. Rep. Coley was unopposed that year in both the GOP Primary and the General Election. The former HD-7 seat had been held by a Democrat until 1998, when conservative Rep. Jamey Westbrook ( D-Bascom) who is now a Republican lost to Bev Kilmer (R-Marianna) because  he had been indicted for pocketing peanut subsidies. He was cleared of the charges days after his election defeat, but like every other district west of Tallahassee, the seat became impossible to win for the Democrats in the early 2000s.

While a Democrat could not win HD-7, a different scenario than some of the other contributions we’ve seen from Tant in recent weeks. the donation to Coley is odd. We understand that Tant as a Tallahassee fundraiser/bundler and socialite is probably friendly with a number of Republicans, but this is precisely why questions need to be asked about whether or not it is in the best interests of the Democratic Party to continue elevating Tallahassee insiders to the Chair’s job.


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