Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bad Blood Between Fla. Congresswoman & Dem Challenger

Congresswoman Ileana Dias-Lehtinen faces a strong candidate next year in the face of former Democratic Hialeah Mayor Raúl Martínez.

This would be a Lehtinen v. Martinez rematch of sorts. You see, the second surname in Ileana's name is in honor of her "former husband, former federal prosecutor in Miami, Dexter Lehtinen." The same guy who tried to dispatch Martinez to the federal big house.

Around the same time that Claude Pepper's seat became available due to his untimely death, Lehtinen gave a get out of jail card to convicted cocaine traffic dealer Alberto San Pedro if he would testify in an even more timely federal corruption trial.

Just a coincidence, no doubt, but Lehtinen went after the strongest challenger to his wife's Congressional seat; and alas, the corruption dog-and-pony show ended any hope to the mayor's run for higher office.

Lehtinen once had been a Democratic state senator but switched parties in the 70s when Dixie went Republican.

From the onset, Martinez claimed that his "prosecution was politically motivated, " as the New York Times noted back in 1991. Martinez said that "[b]efore the Government brought charges against him, he had long planned a run for the Congressional seat held by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen."

Facing "up to 120 years in prison and up to $1.5 million in fines," Martinez was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years. However, the charges were later thrown out on appeal due to jury misconduct.

The sad tale ultimately concluded after two more trials -- a hung jury, 11-1 in favor to acquit -- and a second deadlocked panel.

Ileana's initial campagn manager was none other than Lil Bro Jeb Bush. In a professional tit-for-tat, George Bush Sr. nominated Lehtinen as federal prosecutor; however, Senate Democrats refused to confirm him after his shenanigans in the Martinez case as well as others.

Folks, welcome to Florida politics run by the Mafia Republicana Cubana. Looks like carting political enemies off to prison is a GOP specialty perfected in Florida; and yeah, expect the snarling, scheming and growling to continue to get really, really ugly in '09.

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