Neal Godfather of Sara/Mana Political Organzation

Pat Neal
The Godfather of Sarasota/Manatee Political Organazation

Part I

Pat Neal attempts to portray himself as a smooth, smiling, squeaky-clean local developer, and makes every effort to stay free of any type of scandal. Neal also attempts to operate behind the scenes controllingPat Neal

the political process by using numerous, reprehensible political operatives to fraudulently finance and manage the campaigns of his handpicked candidates for local political offices. Unfortunately, for Neal his attempts to portray himself in the above fashion are beginning to unravel.

Nefarious Type Operations
Neal is essentially the Godfather of a local political organization that controls every aspect of political activity, including law enforcement officials, judges, county commissioners and every other political entity all the way down to local charter review members. Neal operates a local political organization which is making $millions in profits while turning the Sarasota/Manatee area into major urban sprawl in a manner that borders on the criminal.
Robinson Funnels Pac Money Into Neal
 Political Organization

robinsonThis is how the Neal political operation works: First of all, those seeking office in Sarasota or Manatee County need to establish Eric Robinson, a million-dollar CPA and husband of Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson, as the treasurer of their campaign.  Robinson is a political operative who manages over 50 PACS which funnel thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Neal

approved candidates.

Stevenson And Dowd Manage Neal Candidate Campaigns
Next, in conjunction with Robinson involvement, those seeking political office in the area need to hire either Mac Stevenson (who operates under the name of Political Insights) or Kelly Dowd  (KD Associates) to run their campaigns.  Kelly Dowd is a just a front-person who takes direction from her father, John Dowd and Dowd’s personal friend and business partner, former Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta.
Waechter Vets Neal’s Candidates
All candidates are then vetted by another major local political operative, Bob Waechter.  Waechter’s recent arrest and felony conviction for attempting to destroy the political career of Lourdes Ramirez, who opposed Neal’s approved choice for Sarasota County Commissioner, Al Maio, has not hindered Waechter’s continued involvement in local elections.  For example, Waechter was actively recruiting candidates during the last election cycle and was recently seen publicly at the Sarasota County Commission approval of Randy Benderson’s multi-million dollar expansion on the I-75/University Parkway Corridor.  Additionally, Eric Robinson begins to funnel thousands of dollars from various managed PAC’s throughout the state of Florida into PAC’s in support of Neal approved candidates.
Slapp Gets GCBX Behind Neal’s Candidates
Once the campaigns are approved by Neal, money is being raised and Neal operatives are running the campaigns, Mary Slapp, Executive Dir ector of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange (GCBX) enlists the active support of GCBX members to get actively involved in the campaign to raise money for Neal and his cronies. In addition, Slapp makes it imperative that hundreds, even thousands of employees of construction and other local companies who are members of GCBX, get actively involved in making sure Neal’s (and fellow developers) candidates are elected. (SEE ATTACHMENT)
If anyone wants a picture of those who operate under Neal’s watchful eye, take a look at Mike Bennett shown holding court in Downtown Sarasota. Bennett is one of Florida’s most sleazy politicians.  Previously a Florida State Senator, he is presently the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.  Sitting next to Bennett is Slapp, who has progressed from teaching school in Charlotte County to one of the most powerful political operatives in the area.
Next to Slapp are the good ol’ boy members of the GCBX, local contractors making $millions$ off of Neal and his fellow $multi-million dollar developer cronies, Carlos Beruff, Rex Jensen, Randy Benderson and others.
bennettBennett along with his partner, Marvin Kaplan owes $millions of dollars to local creditors and can be seen openly enjoying himself with Slapp at Patrick’s restaurant in Sarasota along with local contractors, unconcerned that he has been ripping off banks and other financial partners.  Why should Bennett be concerned?  He is an established member of the Neal political machine that has taken care of the financial interests of Neal and his cronies in Tallahassee for years.
Bennett along with Barbetta are attempting to raise $millions more for Benderson’s rowing park above and beyond already $50 million in public money already raised for Neal’s crony, Benderson.
bbbarWhen Neal, Slapp and other good ol’ boys want to get out of the sun on Main Street, they retreat to Sarasota County Commissioner Paul Caragiulo’s family run restaurant on Palm Avenue.  Reportedly a Caragiulo family member once owned and operated a restaurant in East Strasburg, Pennsylvania which would close down for a few days when the good ol’ boys from New York and New Jersey needed a place to wine and dine.paul car
No One Gets Elected In Sarasota County
 Without Neal’s EndorsementIt is well known that if you want to be elected to a political office in Sarasota or Manatee County you need to make a trip to Pat Neal’s office in Lakewood Ranch to kiss Neal’s ring or get a kiss on the cheek, while one of two of Neal’s female assistant’s, Maryann Grgic or Ivory Crofoot take notes on the proceedings.
What is also well known is that if you desire to be elected as a judge in the 12th District Judicial Circuit you need the approval of a committee chaired by the Godfather, Pat Neal. In addition, the contact person for Neal’s Judicial Nominating Committee is Grgic.(SEE ATTACHMENT)
grigcrwGrgic And Crofoot Push Neal’s Political Agenda
It is also common knowledge that Grgic and Crofoot are the ones who make the campaign finance calls raising thousands of dollars for local, state and national Republican candidates on behalf of Neal, in order to accumulate political favor for Neal’s future financial gain. In addition, whenever Neal is seen at various political functions be it in Tallahassee, Orlando or events ivorythroughout the state, regionally or nationally related, you will find Grgic or Crofoot at his side.
Neal is well-versed in strategizing the benefits of having two attractive young women associated with his political interests, especially Crofoot. The Godfather knows that  having a soft female voice on the other end of a phone call, while asking for campaign contributions for his political allies, is an effective way to put the arm on his good ol’ boy donors.
Dudley And McElyea Promote Neal’s Candidates
Neal also has had two former Neal Community employees, Rochelle Dudley and Candice McElyea raising thousands of dollars for local Sarasota and Manatee politicians through their political consultant group called On Message Strategic Communications.  Just about every politician kissing the Godfather’s ring has had this attractive female duo putting together major local fundraisers and collecting thousands of dollars for Neal endorsed candidates. (SEE ATTACHMENT)
Dudley recently left McElyea and moved to Washington D,C with former local attorney, Casey Colburn who divorced his wife and mother of his two young children in December to marry Dudley in March of this year.  Dudley has taken a job with U.S Congressman Curt Clawson who exemplifies why Florida is called “Flora- duh.” (SEE ATTACHMENT)
McElyea Replaces Dudley With Ziegler And Nilon
With Dudley doing her thing in D.C. with Colburn, McElyea has repackaged herself in a new firm called THREESIXOH and replaced Dudley with Jessie Biter’s water boy, Christian Ziegler and local talk show hostess, Susan Nilon who is  known for putting her finger in the air to make a buck by determining how the political wind is blowing for her financial gain.
A recent example of how the political process works under Neal occurred when Bob Wyatt made a visit to Neal’s office in Lakewood Ranch in late January of this year.  Wyatt was seeking Neal’s approval to run for the Florida State Legislature out of local District 72.  At the  time it was thought that the incumbent, Ray Pilon might run for Nancy Detert’s State Senate seat if Detert chose to run for the Sarasota County Commissioner seat being vacated by term limited Christine Robinson.
At the meeting Grgic was sitting silently taking notes. After giving his presentation and answering Neal’s various questions, Neal told Wyatt that although he believed Wyatt could get his seal of approval along with that of his wife, Charlene, who is a fellow member with Wyatt on the Board of Trustees at the State College of Florida.  Neal, however, unfortunately had to reserve his final approval.
Neal Likes Morgan Bentley “Very, Very, Very Much”
Neal said that he first needed to find out if local attorney, Morgan Bentley would seek the position. Neal informed Wyatt that he “liked Bentley very, very, very much and truly respected him (Bentley).”
Neal Could Care Less If Bentley Is A Democrat
He Will Just Change HimWhen Wyatt told Neal that Bentley was a Democrat, Neal essentially stated that this was not a problem, and he would  just have Sarasota County Republican Chairman, Joe Gruters approach Bentley and have him turn Republican.  When Bentley was asked about Neal’s high regard for him politically and Neal’s endorsement for political office, Bentley replied he was both “impressed and pleased” by Neal’s endorsement should he run for political office.
babu When asked if he would turn Republican if Neal asked him to change political parties, Bentley answered as Neal indicated he would. Bentley answered that, “He would.”   What makes this meeting between Wyatt and Neal significant was not necessarily Wyatt’s bid for the Godfather’s approval, which is a prerequisite for anyone running for local political office, but rather Neal’s comment that he likes Bentley” very, very, very much and truly respected him” gives clear evidence of how Neal’s interest has absolutely nothing to do with his political philosophy.
First of all, Bentley is a Democrat and not just your average voting Democrat. Bentley recruits Democrats to run for political office. Bentley is also the Democrat who criticized Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman for appointing Republicans to the Sarasota City Commission, which Bentley denies occurred.
Further, Bentley is the individual that former Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta would like to see run against U.S Congressman Vern Buchanan. Barbetta did not indicate if Bentley should run as a Democrat or Republican. Barbetta has not only mentioned his desire to have Bentley run against Buchanan, he had his attorney (Bentley) set up a meeting with Bentley’s close associate, former leader of the local Democratic Party, Rita Ferrandino so as to make sure no Democrat would be running against Barbetta’s successor on the Sarasota County Commission (Paul Caragiulo) who is presently the mouthpiece for the Godfather and his cronies.
The apparent very cordial relationship that Neal enjoys with Bentley, whom the Godfather states he likes “very, very, very much and respects him” puts Neal in the company of some of Sarasota’s most sleazy local political figures which Bentley represents, namely Bob Waecther, Henry Rodriguez and Joe Barbetta.
What is also significant about Bentley’s relationship with Neal is that Bentley represented Rodriguez in the multi-million dollar lawsuit that Hugh Culverhouse Jr. pursued successfully against Rodriguez and Benderson, who are both Neal’s cronies.
Benderson  pours hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into local, state and national political campaigns endorsed by Neal. No doubt Rodriguez and especially Benderson have received calls from Neal’s campaign finance solicitors Grgic, Crofoot, Dudley and McElyea. Rodriquesz has not been as generous as Benderson in stuffing money into Neal’s “selected” politicians.
Bentley Attempted To Have Neal Problem “Go Away”
Bentley and Neal’s mutual admiration for each other and how much Neal likes Bentley so “very, very, very much and respects him,” was no doubt enhanced byby Bentley’s role as one of the unsuccessful lawyers attempting to dispel a serious problem that Neal wanted to “go away.”
The serious problem that Bentley was unable to make “go away” was that a six member jury awarded Culverhouse over $20 million as the result of being defrauded by Rodriguez and Randy Benderson in collusion with Sarasota County officials such as former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley , Sarasota County Commissioners Nora Patterson, Shannon Staub and Joe Barbetta.
Neal Politically Damaged With Favorable Culverhouse Verdict
The very last thing Neal wanted to happen was for Culverhouse to prevail, essentially through the efforts of one of the state of Florida’s most outstanding litigators, attorney Steven Hutton who brought to the surface clear evidence that Rodriguez and Benderson conspired with Sarasota County officials to defraud Culverhouse, and that Sarasota County under the leadership of Ley was corrupt and bordered on the criminal.
Neal is Florida Governor Rick Scott’s main man in the area and whenever Governor Scott makes a visit, Neal is one of the first to be notified of Scott’s upcoming arrival. Neal’s exposure as the Godfather of a local political organization would be a political embarrassment for Scott and could cause state funds from Tallahassee to dry up.
Neal and his local major contributors to Governor Scott’s political campaign need state funding, especially Benderson who is seeking $millions for his rowing park, and other Neal cronies like Beruff and Jensen who will need over $200 million to alleviate the traffic nightmare created by Neal and his fellow gangsters along the 1-75/University Parkway Corridor.
Unfortunately for Neal, the six member local jury essentially ruled that Culverhouse exposed the ugly underbelly of a corrupt Ley Administration, which revealed Sarasota County Commissioners in the pockets of a corrupt political operation controlled by Neal and his cronies.
It certainly would be Neal’s best interests for that decision to go away.
Dubensky Delivers For Neal
That is exactly what happened.  Judge Peter A. Dubensky,  in a normally routine post-trial hearing, ruled there was not enough legal basis for most of the claims in the case to substantiate the verdict for Culverhouse. Dubensky ruled that:
 “…legally, there is no way of knowing … what caused the county commissioners to defer action on the land-use project…”Judge Peter Dubensky
 Of course that is the case – jurors cannot be mind readers.  Were that possible, what need would there be for jury trials?
How can any reasonable person be shocked by Dubensky’s decision knowing that Dubensky is a product of a local judicial system that features Neal as the chairman of the committee that recommends judges to be appointed to the 12th Judicial Circuit.
Not long ago this outrageous statement appeared in the Bradenton Herald: “A panel headed by Neal has recently sent five nominees to Governor Rick Scott for a seat on the 12th Judicial Circuit.”
Neal’s Reign Has To End
Neal’s attempts to portray himself as a smooth, smiling, squeaky-clean local developer, who makes every effort to stay free of any type of questionable behavior has to be exposed.  Neal’s behind the scenes control of the political process using numerous, nefarious local political operatives who finance and manage campaigns of handpicked candidates for local political office has to be exposed.
By the way the Susce’s have a legacy exposing those who corrupt the political system (SEE ATTACHMENT)
Part II



Posted in Breaking News, Politics, Regional / Local News, Regional / Local Politics

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