Former Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson is leading by only three points in the latest St. Pete poll against Republican challenger Todd Long in Florida’s newly formed 9th Congressional District. According to StPetePolls.org, Grayson has 45 percent of the district’s support, while Long has 42.2 percent. Grayson was defeated after one term in 2010 by then Republican challenger (now Congressman) Daniel Webster in Florida’s 8th Congressional District.
Grayson is not just facing a tight race but also an accusation from a former client, who filed a claim with the IRS charging Mr. Grayson with $2.1 million in tax fraud. According to a press release from Mr. Ubl, who campaigned for Grayson in 2008, Grayson’s senior partner Victor Kubli, a convicted felon, is also named in the complaint. “I have fought fraud in the federal sector and military industrial complex for over 20 years. Alan Grayson as my lead council was more corrupt than the contractors I have litigated,” Mr. Ubl said. The press release release continues:
Grayson and Kubli asserted legal fees that were over twice as much as the U.S. Department of Justice deemed reasonable. Grayson charged at a $700 hourly rate when the maximum amount allowed by the Laffey Matrix was $495 per hour. The Laffey Matrix is an index that sets the allowable rates for attorneys in the DC Metro and Baltimore. The inflated rates were coupled with hours that in many instances were simply not available to be charged because Grayson was in full swing with his 2008 congressional campaign and two other time demanding cases.
The complaint was filed under the IRS whistleblower program and entitles Ubl to compensation if Grayson and Kubli are found guilty. The IRS whistleblower program has been under fire for slow processing times and a lack of accountability to the person filing the complaint and to the public at large. Recent changes to the program have resulted in a streamlining and effectiveness that is starting to show big results such as the billions recovered from the UBS tax evasion scheme. The complaint details how $2.1 million represents unallowable tax deductions for the period that Ubl was represented by Grayson and Kubli. Ubl contends that the inflated legal fees were a major issue of contention with the DOJ and was a key reason why a signed $8.9 million dollar settlement was nullified and not enforced. The $8.9 million settlement represented recovered fraud dollars due back to the American taxpayer.
Mr. Kubli, whose previous felony conviction stems from a 1990 bribery charge in federal court, responded to Mr. Ubl’s allegations in a letter to Mr. Ubl’s attorney, David Slonim, “We disagree with your allegations, and regard them as unfounded and frivolous.”
Mr. Grayson faced off against his Republican opponent on Monday and tensions between the candidates rose when the exchange like the one below occurred, reported the Orlando Sentinel
But things got testy right away, with Long calling Grayson a “character assassin” and Grayson branding Long as “a towering hypocrite” and “a liar, too.” In his opening statement, Long attacked Grayson for having referred to a female Federal Reserve adviser and former Enron lobbyist as a “K Street whore.” Long called the 2009 comment sexist and demeaning.
Grayson apologized at the time, but he defended the remark Monday. Lobbyists are commonly referred to that way, he said, “because they congregate on K Street [in Washington, D.C.], and they’re whores.”
When Grayson interrupted him at one point, Long responded with: “You can shut up.” Later, an audience member called out that he couldn’t hear Long.
“You’re better off,” Grayson quipped.
When Grayson said he’d never been told to shut up during a debate before, he got a faux-sympathetic “awwww” from Long backers in the audience.
When Long mentioned that he likes Democrats and independents, Grayson jumped in with: “How about me, Todd?”
Political observers initially expected Mr. Grayson to have an easier return to Capitol Hill given the Puerto Rican demographics in the district that are likely to shift Democratic. The Orlando Sentinel did not endorse either candidate.