A slew of South Florida political scandals have uncovered "a culture of corruption" that must be stamped out, freshman Florida Sen. George LeMieux said Tuesday.
"I feel bad about my home town. This is another black eye on Fort Lauderdale," LeMieux said in response to a reporter's questions about accused Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.
In the past decade, Rothstein -- a Broward lawyer who allegedly bilked investors over bogus legal settlements -- helped steer about $2 million in campaign contributions to political causes, committees and candidates, including Gov. Charlie Crist.
Rothstein's troubles surfaced after federal indictments this fall of other Broward figures: fundraiser Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar commissioner Fitzroy Salesman.
"We've got a culture of corruption in Southeast Florida. And we need to do something about it," LeMieux said. "It makes us look bad. It's bad for business and bad for our way of life."
Crist appointed LeMieux, his former chief of staff, to the Senate seat for which the governor is now a candidate in an increasingly competitive Republican primary. Rothstein attended LeMieux's swearing-in ceremony in September.
While lawyers in Broward's legal community whispered about Rothstein's source of seemingly inexhaustible funds, politicians and charities took loads of his money.
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