Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has yet to use his new political action committee to target Will Weatherford, the Florida Speaker of the House who put the brakes in May on legislation that would have allowed a public vote on renovations to Sun Life Stadium.
Ross may not have to.
Reporters in Florida have been chasing loose ends and open questions regarding Weatherford’s income. Last month, questions were raised about Weatherford’s income. More recently, Steve Miller of the Miami Herald found a new wrinkle that will serve only to make things more uncomfortable for the relatively young speaker with, in the view of the Dolphins, big aspirations.
Per the Herald, Weatherford is listed as a founding member and former director of U.S. Cat Adjusters, a Texas company that has receiver $826,676 from Florida’s state-run insurance company.
Weatherford says neither he nor his wife have “received a single dollar of income” from the company, even though he admits he was “listed” as a board member for several years. Tax records show that his wife owns 2.8 percent of the company.
As the article points out, Weatherford doesn’t say whether he owns or previously owned stock in the company.
“He would have to have an interest beyond sitting on the board,” Lance deHaven-Smith, a professor of public administration and public policy at USF, speculates to the Herald. “He’s not doing this as charity. What is being raised here is the possibility of a rather obscure but significant conflict of interest that would be hard to track and hard to know if there are violations of the spirit of the law.”
While the early portions of the article raise questions about Weatherford’s interest in the Texas company, the bottom of the item seems to concede that Weatherford hasn’t done anything wrong, and that his voting record shows no favoritism to the Texas company.
Still, the overriding message of the story is that Weatherford has landed squarely in the cross hairs of influential portions of the Florida media, and if they ever hit the target a major impediment to the efforts to upgrade Sun Life Stadium will be removed.
There’s a chance that Weatherford’s replacement will be even less favorable to the cause, but it’s clear that, with Weatherford in place, the no public money will be funneled to the project.