Sunday, December 13, 2009

FBI Political Corruption Investigation in Fla


The FBI and Justice Department are questioning lawmakers, including Senate President Jeff Atwater, and legislative staffers in a corruption investigation of a politically connected eye doctor.

Atwater's spokeswoman, Jaryn Emhof, said Wednesday that FBI agents talked with the North Palm Beach Republican for about 45 minutes about Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, who has been charged in South Florida with running a fraudulent political fundraising and lobbying operation.

Most of the questions were about committee structure and process, said Emhof.

Investigators were focusing on lawmakers who served on health care committees in 2006-08, she said.

Atwater, also a statewide candidate for chief financial officer, chaired one of those panels before becoming Senate president last year.

Lawmakers said agents also asked about former Sen. Mandy Dawson, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat. She was close to Mendelsohn, a Hollywood ophthalmologist, and also chaired a health care committee.