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Florida Senate Race Gets Personal

3:07 PM, Feb 23, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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new story in the Miami Herald details some of Republican congressman Connie Mack IV's past financial and legal troubles. Mack, who is running for Senate in Florida, reportedly spent more than he earned and missed a payment to his first wife, Ann, according to divorce proceedings. Mack also apparently had a string of property liens and missed payments on a variety of things, from a condo to a yacht club membership.

But the juciest bits come when Caputo describes a number of Mack's run-ins with the law as a young man:

In October 1989, when he was 21, Mack was arrested by an off-duty Duval County sheriff’s deputy at a Jacksonville nightclub called Bananas. Asked to remove his hat, Mack refused, hurling four-letter insults at club workers and calling the officer a “rent-a-cop,” an employee testified. When Mack refused to leave, he was busted for resisting arrest without violence.

“You don’t know who I am,” Mack, whose dad had been elected to the U.S. Senate the year before, reportedly told the off-duty police officer.

In a deposition, bar manager Brian Held described Mack’s threats as “all of the stuff you see on Matlock,” referring to the popular 1980s television show.

Mack, calling the arrest a misunderstanding, pleaded no contest. The judge withheld adjudication — meaning he has no criminal record — and the arrest report was sealed.

Two years before, Mack traded blows with another motorist waiting at a draw bridge while on his way to a wedding. Then, in 1988, Mack’s car windows were smashed by a man wielding a baseball bat.

The incidents came to light after a February 1992 brawl with then-professional baseball player Ron Gant at an Atlanta bar called Calico Jack’s. A waitress testified that Mack, who had been heavily drinking beer and Jagermeister shots all night, took the first swing at Gant. Mack testified he couldn’t remember how much beer he drank, but said he had only one liquor shot — of tequila.

Gant claims a drunken Mack repeatedly bumped into him, precipitating a fight. Mack claims Gant attacked him for no reason.

During the melee, Gant head-locked Mack. Mack testified that he couldn’t breath. So he starting striking and grabbing the ball player’s crotch. At a certain point, the club’s bouncers got involved and Mack broke his ankle. He sued Gant, who was held liable. But a jury awarded no damages.

In a press conference in Tallahassee yesterday, top rival George LeMieux called Mack the "Charlie Sheen of Florida politics" and said the "rap sheet" showed Mack "does not have the temperament or the character to serve in the United States Senate."

Mack's campaign manager Jeff Cohen responded with an open letter to LeMieux. Here's an excerpt:

Dear George:

Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious concern. To compare your opponent, Connie Mack, to Charlie Sheen is both offensive and outrageous.

The Mack family – including Congressman Mack, his wife Mary and his parents –  have been leaders in standing up against the rising use of drugs among our citizens.

I know you believe it was cute (albeit juvenile) to bring in Charlie Sheen. Instead, it was offensive, demeaning and belittling to the hard work that so many people – including the Macks – have done for so long in dealing with the serious problem of addiction, and particularly drug and alcohol addiction among teenagers.

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