Saturday, February 7, 2009


Dateline: Wednesday, February 4, 2009


What do you give the state attorney who has everything? If you’ve been racking your brain what to get Mark Ober (state attorney of Hillsborough County) for his birthday on May 18th (he’ll be 58), let me make a few suggestions, based on Mark’s quarterly gift disclosures to the Commission on Ethics, along with some other public records we’ll get to later.

New York Yankees patriarch, George Steinbrenner, really likes Mark Ober. How much does he like him? Enough to keep Mark in free tickets to baseball and football events for at least three games in 2008. “The Boss” Steinbrenner gave Mark two tickets to the Yankees/Orioles game last July 30th ($100). That was a Wednesday and Thursday. No mention is made of what Mark was otherwise doing in the Big Apple.

On Saturday, August 23, 2008, “The Man” treated Mark to the Tampa Bay Bucs/Jacksonville Jaguars game, two tickets valued at $914.00 (nice seats). I hope Mark and his friend enjoyed the game.

Earlier in the season, Mark’s friend, Doug Cone, of Ocala, gave Mark four $100 tickets to watch the Yankees and the Houston Astros on March 7th, then Big George stepped up to the plate and gave Mark two $100 tickets to watch the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays on March 21st, followed by the Yankees/Pittsburgh game on March 27th, only one ticket this time, for $75. Two of those games were on Fridays, and one on Thursday. I suppose Mark deserves some time off during the week for a ballgame every now and then. His felony bureau chiefs can hold down the fort.

Dick Crippen of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (pre-name change) only gave Mark tickets once, on July 12, 2007, but they were nice ones, four tickets, $280, to watch Tampa Bay play the Yankees.

Going back over Mark’s quarterly disclosure forms, good old Doug Cone gave Mark four cheap tickets (at $25 per) to see New York play Minnesota on March 7, 2006.

Seems like the only thing Mark likes better than free tickets is cash. Doug Cone shared his wealth with Mark Ober on December 13, 2007, writing him a check for $500 from “Cone Distributing, Inc.,” of Ocala, the maximum campaign contribution allowed by law, and the same day, December 13th, writing him an extra $500 from the account of the “Douglas P. Cone Revocable Trust,” also at the same 500 NW 27th Avenue address in Ocala.

Be careful, Doug, about those $500 contributions! We have some pretty strict campaign finance laws in Florida, especially for exceeding limits, having other people contribute money for you in their names, bundling, and other sneaky tricks used to help out the candidates.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I have the utmost respect for Mr. Steinbrenner and the NY Yankees. As a child the highlight of my spring was when our father would take my two brothers and me to Al Lopez Field to watch the Yankees play the Reds, the spring training game of the season. And I understand that “The Boss” is not only the consummate sportsman, but also a business genius, so I’m sure he has reasons to shower tickets and cash on Mark Ober, as he’s been doing for years.

Most recently, George Steinbrenner, III, gave Mark five hundred bucks on November 21, 2007, to keep the family tradition alive, followed up by two more nice checks the same day, $400 from “Kinsman Properties Corp.,” same address (P.O. Box 25077, Tampa, 33623) and $500 from “Kinsman Companies Partnership” at 1 Steinbrenner Drive in Tampa. Son-in-law, Steve Swindal, gave Mark a nice chunk of change for Mark’s 2004 election campaign, but since he got kicked out of the family, his contributions dried up.

I’m reading these numbers from the Florida Department of State Division of Elections, Campaign Finance Data Base for the 2008 General Election, State Attorney’s race, Hillsborough County. The illustrious Mark Ober, on the particular printout, had 492 contributions for $138,517.80 (come on, people, make your checks out to round numbers) a total of 186 of those contributions were for the maximum, $500, or $93,000, the bulk of the money.

This list makes very interesting reading. You’d be amazed at how many “PA’s,” lawyers, gave money to Mark (DUH!), and how many “PA’s,” (lawyers) did not list the “PA” by their names, like Wayne Chalu, one of Mark’s trusted employees, and my former P.D.’s office appellate lawyer, who listed his home address in St. Pete, along with his wife, Cynthia, $500 each. Perhaps someone could figure out how to make it a payroll deduction. Wayne and Cynthia gave Mark the grand on November 21, 2007, and December 17, 2007, respectively, dates that reoccur often on the list.

There are so many fascinating facts on this one database that I’m going to take a timeout, do some more research, and come back to this subject again. Some of these entries have a strong odor about them, like that rotten thing in Denmark, and bears more scrutiny. So far, I’ve counted at least 115 lawyers or law firms confirmed on the list, and there are some interesting correlations.

If you’d like to check out the list yourself, type in then 2008 General Election, Candidate Ober, Mark. If you come up with any interesting observations, I’d like to hear them.

Back to Mark’s gifts—Paul Teasch, CEO of the St. Pete Times, gave Mark two tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game ($150) on December 2, 2005, but nothing since then. Wassamatta, Mark, don’t like hockey?

Fishing equipment is also a good choice. Glenn Chaney of Brandon gave Mark a nice Shimano Stradic 4000 FH fishing reel ($140) in July, 2005. That was awhile back, so he could probably use a new one. Don’t forget some of that fancy new microfiber fishing line; all they had was cheap monofilament when I was out there last in the 1970’s. Sandra Spoto bought Mark a nice “Bait Stik” Sabiki Rod and Shimano Reel – 4000 FA ($120) a few months before Glenn gave him the reel, so that’s probably taken some wear, too.

Mark loves tenderloin steaks! Connie Freeman gave him a box of Williams and Sonoma Perini Ranch Tenderloins ($429) on December 2, 2004; nice post-election Christmas present, Connie, but why haven’t you given him any more in the past four years?

Dennis Lopez got on his good side with some “Arturo Fuente Hemingway Cigars” ($218.95)—watch out for lung cancer—which Mark only smokes when he has something to celebrate, like giving somebody the death penalty.

George and the Yankees kept Mark in Bucs tickets—versus Houston ($457—09/01/05) Bucs vs. Denver Broncos ($457—10/03/04), then Mark hit the jackpot with two really nice Christmas presents in 2004—a “Joe DiMaggio Autographed Baseball” ($855.44)—just think, Mark, the hand that held that ball was married to Marilyn Monroe, and a “NY Yankees Watch!” ($150). Now I’m becoming envious. I had a baseball autographed by Mickey Mantle once, but it got lost in an orange grove. Oh, well.

Mark likes wild game! Ernie Center gave him three tickets to the Brandon Rotary Club Wild Game Cookout, $225. And the felony bureau chiefs gave him a $200 gift certificate to the Sports Authority.

I saw in the “Tampa Tribune,” what’s left of it, that the Sports Authority had a big sale on Rawlings baseball gloves—$6.74 - $224.99. That might be a nice gift for Mark. He can catch a foul ball, get someone to sign it.

Those felony bureau chiefs also bought Mark two pairs of nice dress shoes ($145 and $285). Maybe some silk socks would be a nice touch.

Whoa! Look out! Robert P. Polli gave Mark a Ruger Super Black Hawk .44 magnum pistol ($305). Robert lives in a P.O.Box in Kilauea, Hawaii. Be careful—that thing might go off. How about a nice leather holster for Mark’s gun, or a box of bullets? Maybe some human silhouette targets to take out to the pistol range. Burglars stay away—Mark’s packing big heat. Wasn’t that the same caliber “Dirty Harry” used to blow away the scumbags in Frisco in the ‘70’s?

That’s enough for now. I’m not going to discuss the Mont Blanc pen Ed and Donna Schmoll ($175) got him, or the bottle of champagne Frances Toledo gave him. I’d hate to see Mark drunk and firing that pistol some night! Someone might call the cops on him. I hope you have some good ideas of what to get old Mark for his birthday now. Me, I’m not sending him anything. He’s still fuming over that Christmas card I sent him in 1980—“Merry Christmas from Raiford, wish you were here.” And a Happy Valentines Day to you, too.


Vox Populi said...

LAUGHING MY ASS OFF. I hope you can help me polish my writing skills.
I don't understand why you don't send him a christmas card EVERY year.
You should.
I love your sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

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Vox Populi said...

Hope all is well.