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David Straz
Former Tampa mayoral candidate and philanthropist David Straz had nitroglycerin tablets next to him when he died, a 911 call suggests.

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David Straz paid Bill Fletcher $2.8M to lose in spectacular fashion, now Fletcher wants more

Straz passed away late last year, just months after the election.

The campaign consultant who took in $2.8 million from the late David Straz‘s mayoral campaign wants more.

Bill Fletcher, through his consulting firm Fletcher Ridge, is suing Straz’s estate to recoup more than $112,000 he says he’s owed from services rendered during Straz’s failed 2018 campaign.

The lawsuit, filed June 18 in Hillsborough County court, doesn’t layout specifics on the total he says wasn’t paid. Instead, the lawsuit claims, with supporting documents including a contract with Straz, Fletcher Ridge would pay for all campaign activity up front and invoice the campaign for the amount owed on those services.

The contract called for reimbursements for actual costs, plus $8,000 a month for consulting, a 10% commission on all media buys and reimbursed travel expenses.

In all, the Straz campaign paid Fletcher Ridge $2.8 million, about three fifths of the campaigns entire expenditures.

At the time, some argued Straz was being swindled by an out-of-state consultant who was behind a campaign in chaos. At one point, former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn insinuated Fletcher should be charged with elder abuse.

Fletcher is based in Tennessee.

The lawsuit claims Fletcher made several attempts to collect on the debt, efforts made both before and after Straz’s death last year.

Before he died, Fletcher said he emailed Straz in September about the past due amount and was told Straz was “under doctor’s care and would not do anything that may cause him stress.”

In October, Fletcher said he informed Straz he planed to hire a lawyer. Straz died about a month later on November 18, 2019.

On January 23, just two months after Straz passed, Fletcher sent a letter to Straz’s surviving spouse, Catherine Lowry Straz, notifying her of the debt and requesting payment.

Fletcher filed a statement of claim against Straz’s estate on April 27.

It’s unclear what services went unpaid. It’s also unclear how much of the $2.8 million paid to Fletcher Ridge was raw profit.

Fletcher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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