Long Bar Pointe developers donated $46,500 to commissioners

cschelle@bradenton.comJune 9, 2013 

Developers for Long Bar Pointe are requesting a map amendment to turn the approved residential community into a resort, and a text amendment that would allow construction in sensitive environmental areas along Sarasota Bay. Photo by Troy Morgan/PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.com

TROY MORGAN/PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM

MANATEE -- Long Bar Pointe's developers have not been shy about donating to the Manatee County Commissioners' past campaigns.

All but one commissioner received campaign contributions from companies owned by Berrington Group's Larry Lieberman and Medallion Homes' Carlos Beruff, who are partnering to receive county approval to turn Long Bar Pointe into a coastal resort. The sweeping proposal requires zon

ing changes and altered countywide environmental regulations.

The two developers gave a combined total of $42,500 to the current county commissioners for their latest campaigns, according to campaign finance reports.

In Florida, politicians do not have to claim a conflict of interest when voting on matters connected to campaign contributions, but do have to disclose conflicts when it comes to income. Each donation in Manatee County is capped at $500 per instance, and Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this year allowing local races to raise up to $1,000 at a time.

One commissioner, Carol Whitmore, received $500 each specifically from Long Bar Pointe LLC and Long Bar Pointe Seagrass Phase I LLC in August 2010, according to campaign finance reports. Commissioner Michael Gallen is the only county commissioner who did not receive campaign contributions from Beruff, Lieberman or related companies owned by the two developers.

As with most large companies, the campaign contributions are assigned to limited liability corporations that are owned by developers, as with the case for Long Bar Pointe.

Here is the total for each commissioner from Lieberman's and Beruff's companies:

•Commissioner Larry Bustle: $4,500 from Beruff and $5,000 from Lieberman

•Commissioner John Chappie: $7,000 from Beruff

•Commissioner Betsy Benac: $8,500 from Beruff and $1,000 from Lieberman

•Commissioner Vanessa Baugh: $500 from Beruff

•Commissioner Robin DiSabatino: $7,000 from Beruff and $2,500 from Lieberman

•Commissioner Whitmore: $9,000 from Lieberman and $1,500 from Beruff

•Commissioner Michael Gallen: $0 from Lieberman and Beruff

As part of the Legislature's ethics overhaul, financial disclosure forms are now required to be posted online to tell the public where public officials' incomes come from. The site is now up at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us, but no reports are available yet for Manatee County officials.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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