Fla. Republican Returns Penthouse Money

Matt O'Conner
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tom Gallagher, a Republican running for governor on a platform of family values, has returned several campaign contributions from Penthouse Media Group, Penthouse Images Acquisitions and other Penthouse-affiliated companies.

Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, had initially accepted seven checks totaling more than $3,000 from the companies but later said accepting money from pornography did not fit with his conservative vision for Florida.

Coincidentally, the decision to return the contributions came a day after rival candidate Charlie Crist brought them to public attention.

Gallagher said his staff failed to notice the source of the contributions because they were under tremendous pressure to collect as much money as possible in a short time and that the checks were refunded “as soon as they were recognized for what they were.”

However, Gallagher said he will keep 18 additional contributions from companies affiliated with Boca Raton-based Marc Bell Capital Partners, which purchased Penthouse after the company for bankruptcy in 2003.

“The other checks that are affiliated with legitimate business interests, those won’t be returned,” Gallagher spokesman Albert Matinez said.

Far from being insulted by Martinez’ insinuation that Penthouse is an illegitimate venture, company owner Marc Bell instead distanced himself and his company from involvement in the adult entertainment industry.

“We’re not in the adult business,” Bell said.