Gotta Shout It, Sen. Bennett: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 5, 2010 1:02 AM
 Nancy Smith 150x207

Along comes Sen. Mike Bennett, another political egomaniac who believes he's above scrutiny or honesty or answering for bad behavior in office -- and you know what? He almost is.

I look at the comments from readers of our story, "Sen. Mike Bennett Caught Looking at Porn on Senate Floor" -- with video showing the senator looking at four women in g-strings and nipple-exposed tops -- and more than a third of them feel sorry for poor Mike Bennett.

I don't.

Among our critics is Marc Caputo, a red-meat-eating Miami Herald reporter I've long admired. Marc looks, sees no exposure, just women in bikinis, 4 seconds of no-porn, and what's the fuss? Besides, who cares what Sunshine State News says? Disappointing.


Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

I was hoping Marc and others in the Capitol press corps might see what this reporter (in the video shown right) saw. Now here's a guy who really gets what Mike Bennett is all about.

Fortunately, most thinking Floridians get Bennett, too. Soft porn, hard porn -- it doesn't matter. They know when an elected official breaks the public trust. They know that at the very least Mike Bennett's bad behavior -- checking personal, tasteless e-mail during a debate on the Senate floor -- was disrespectful, even contemptuous of an august institution.

In two weeks, Bennett is going to announce he'll run for Congress in 2012. I know, I know, but he's going to do it anyway.

This man is arrogant enough to believe voters will forget about the beach-babes e-mail now shown on a dozen different TV programs, from "Inside Edition" to "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (that's right -- Sen. Mike and his female quartet are going to be on The Tonight Show maybe this very night). I think that when the time comes, voters will remember. In fact, I hope I'll be here to help them along. One thing Washington doesn't need is another congressman who believes he's invincible, who will transfer his loutish bad habits on the smaller stage to the noisier national arena in D.C.

Why, you ask, don't I give Mike Bennett a break?

Because I did once already.

After I watched Lane Wright's video, Lane and I realized the senator might have an explanation. And he did. Several of them. Have a look at our poll and take your pick. We were entirely prepared to kill the story. That's why we waited over the weekend and did nothing. All Bennett had to do was let us see records from the Senate's server showing us the email. He chose instead to go to the Senate's general counsel and look for a way out. Here is the e-mail he sent to me via Sen. Jeff Atwater's office:

“Last Friday, I took a moment to check my personal email account during a quiet minute on the Senate floor. I received several emails from a former city colleague and life-long friend. I had no prior knowledge as to what the emails would contain and when the contents of one was discovered to be less than appropriate, it was promptly closed. I cannot control what individuals may send me and am disappointed that at a time when there are major issues impacting Florida, an insignificant issue such as this receives any attention.”

I would like to have asked, if the ultrasound issue under discussion on the Senate floor during the bikini-babe download wasn't a significant enough issue to receive his attention, what was? But also attached to the lawyer-sanitized e-mail was an assurance that Sen. Bennett "will not be commenting further."

Personally, I think Bennett was so arrogant, he was convinced he could refuse and we would just go away. I base that on the fact that, less than an hour after we made the video public, he telephoned Lane Wright in a rage, promising to make sure he never works in the Capitol again.

I tried to phone the senator back. I wanted to apologize for implying he was a liar.

I shouldn't have implied any such thing. I should have shouted it from the rafters.

Sen. Bennett is a liar.

It isn't just the different excuses for opening his personal, performing-babes e-mail. Or the way he tilted the screen to hide the babes, then opened it wider when he closed them out.

What tells me he's got at least one gi-normous dark secret on that computer/hard drive/server is, he reasoned he had more to lose by showing us what was on the server than by risking us showing the video.

Think about that for a minute.

That's a man who made a choice.

And, Lordy, yes, that's a liar.


Reach Executive Editor Nancy Smith at, or at (850) 727-0859.









Comments (10)

julia keen
12:13PM MAY 6TH 2010
On point
7:33AM MAY 6TH 2010
Smith's commentry is insightful and right on point. Bennett is a rich and powerful man. He thinks he can bully his way around this mistake. He's made the Florida Senate a much less respected place with his total lack of moral scrupples and honesty. The sooner he realizes that the better off Florida will be. Sad day for all of us who've spent part of our careers serving the once great place. Toni Jennings would have never put up with his actions.
9:32PM MAY 5TH 2010
Guess what Nancy? I'll still vote for him regardless of the topless bikini babes. BTW Nancy, I bet you look at porn.
2:16PM MAY 5TH 2010
Oh like you have never received a spam e-mail with porn on it. Everyone gets them. Way to sling someone through the mud to bolster the reputation of this pathetic little Web site.
11:38AM MAY 5TH 2010
A senator should know that his words and actions on the floor are not just in the public interest but matters of public record; that's not his house or even his private office quarters. It seems this should fall under open records if that's a legislature-issued laptop and/or if he was using either a state senate e-mail account or even the legislature's wifi network. I don't know what kind of open records laws Florida has, but I hope you'll pursue the matter fully. If the senator truly has nothing to hide and is as innocent as he protests, then please let's see what's going on over there.
9:38AM MAY 5TH 2010
Congrats Nancy. You just lowered yourself to the Senator's standards.
right on
8:09AM MAY 5TH 2010
Nancy -- you're spot on in this piece. Keep up the good reporting.
7:24AM MAY 5TH 2010
"It isn't just the different excuses for opening his personal, performing-babes e-mail. Or the way he tilted the screen to hide the babes, then opened it wider when he closed them out."

Did I miss that part in yesterday's story? If so, I'm sorry I did before I left my comment on Mr. Wright's blog... Totally different story...
5:24PM MAY 5TH 2010
It probably wasn't in the story because they had not thought of it yet. This story is clearly still being crafted for their own agenda. And they clearly have an agenda. Porn? Did anyone look at that picture? It is a ridiculous notion.

This "news source" is obviously very pleased with itself, as evidenced by this pompous and arrogant editorial.

I know this: One thing Tallahassee doesn't need is another reporter who believes he's invincible, who will transfer his loutish bad habits on the smaller stage to the noisier national arena. Shame on this website for their work in creating this fake crisis of confidence.
9:29PM MAY 6TH 2010
The guy gets caught goofing off instead of doing his job--the one he campaigned for. Is it too much to expect our elected leaders to pay attention and "represent" us? To me what he was looking at isn't as much of the issue. He clearly was surfing the web and checking personal emails instead of serving his constituents. And then, when he gets caught looking at topless girls he reverts to full politician mode and comes up with a bunch of lame excuses. Our tax dollars once again being wasted. The guy was an idiot for doing it then a coward for not taking responsibility. More of the same from blowhard politicians.

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