TAMPA - As a tea party-supported politician, Mike Haridopolos rails against all but the most essential public spending. That's why his $152,000 deal to write a book for students that was never even printed is raising eyebrows.
"We would not pay our faculty to produce a book," explained Hillsborough Community College spokeswoman Ashley Carl. HCC might allow a professor or instructor to take a sabbatical in order to research and write a book, but they'd never agree to the kind of deal struck by Brevard Community College.
In 2003, the South Florida school gave Senator Mike Haridopolos, who was teaching there at the time, four years to write a textbook. The contract specified that it be "textbook quality," and cover the wide range of Florida government from pre-statehood to the present.
What they got years later was a 175-page double-spaced manuscript filled with advice on running for office including such tips as "a cell phone will be essential."
"I don't know of any other community college that has put someone on payroll to write an academic book" says Scott Paine, political science chairman at University of Tampa.
Paine says schools often try to bring high-achieving public figures on board as adjunct or guest professors, but the politicians are usually retired.
Still, in 2008, Senator Haridopolos was also paid $75,000 dollars by the University of Florida to teach a single class and spent much of his time in Tallahassee.
"So here's a state university paying someone a very high salary for the qualifications and the work who also happens to be in charge of the budget. That's a problem," says Paine.
There are other examples. In 2008, Republican state senator Evelyn Lynn secured $1 million of taxpayer money for a literacy center at Florida State University and was promptly hired to run it for $120,000 dollars a year. She soon resigned from the center under pressure.
Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom was paid $110,000 dollars a year by Northwest Florida State College allegedly in return for funneling millions in state money to the school. Sansom and the school's former president are under felony indictment.
"When we have people who are paid out of that same fund and paid at a rate that is above the norm and they're talking about other people taking cuts, that should trouble voters," said Paine.
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