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Politics

Dolphins Fill Pockets of Top Rick Scott Strategist

May 14, 2013 - 6:00pm

A firm linked to a top Gov. Rick Scott strategist received more than $1.5 million from Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins in the failed bid for taxpayer stadium-renovation dollars.

Campaign disclosure reports show Multimedia Services Corp., a firm linked to Scott strategist Tony Fabrizio, was paid a significant chunk -- to the tune of $1.6 million -- of the money spent by the Dolphins political action committee Friends of Miami First. The committee burned through $4.5 million in three weeks alone.

But the Fabrizio firm may have received even more money from the failed effort because the committee was not required to report money spent before the special election was scheduled.

Just last year, Fabrizio received more than $350,000 in research and consulting fees from another failed referendum effort to build three destination casinos in South Florida. The group was largely funded by Malaysian developer and gambling giant Genting Group.

Billionaire Ross pumped significant amounts of cash into Friends of Miami First in an attempt to get renovations for Miamis Sun Life Stadium on a special ballot and approved by Miami-Dade voters. The election, which would have taken place Wednesday, also cost Ross a nonrefundable $4.8 million fee to Miami-Dade County to hold the election, according to The Miami Herald.

The Dolphins effort was stopped the last night of the legislative session when House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, refused to hear the bill needed for the tax subsidy. Ross expressed his outrage, targeting Weatherford after the legislation died.

I am certain this decision will follow Speaker Weatherford for many years to come, said Ross in a statement.

But election data reveal Rosss payment to Fabrizio and others would have been for naught regardless.

Early voting results from the cancelled election released by the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections showed the effort crumbling, down by nearly 15 points (57-43 percent).

While Ross is bitter over the failed, expensive effort, folks like Fabrizio and others greatly profited off his short-lived largesse.

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