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They described a Tallahassee culture that creates conditions ripe for sexual exploitation: Lobbying firms rely on a business model based on relationships and some do not discourage intimacy in the quest for access to power.
Latvala began the week forced to explain a private investigator’s photos, leaked to Politico but not published, that reportedly showed him kissing a lobbyist on the cheek and lips after dinner at a restaurant on the final day of the special session in June.Talbot ‘Sandy’ D’Alemberte, a Democratic House member from Miami who served in the 1960s.He specifically recalled a House colleague happily walking through a hotel lobby with a woman on each arm.“There’s constant commentary that men say to women, and maybe a lot of time it’s innocent,” she said. Oh, that dress looks really great on you.’” A typical offhand remark often includes the suggestion that a woman might be doing well in politics because she is somehow inappropriately involved with a man, she said. One of the tools of the trade is the use of attractive young men and women who are hired by lobbyists to show up in the Capitol and nearby bars in the closing weeks of legislative sessions, flirt with lawmakers, and maybe even offer sexual favors. ‘Mac’ Stipanovich, a capital fixture for more than three decades as a staffer, political strategist and lobbyist, said that Tallahassee traditionally operated with a “code of silence” that protected questionable after-hours behavior.They’re called “closers,” a reference to the end of the session when lobbyists need amendments tucked into bills and budgets — and will go to great lengths to get the legislative votes to pass them. “You have attractive and ambitious young women and powerful and perhaps predatory men,” he said.