WTSP's Noah Pransky investigates political advisor Beth Leytham's interesting ties to officials

In a damning, in-depth piece published Monday night, WTSP 10 Investigates reporter Noah Pransky revealed the outcome of a yearlong investigation into a top advisor to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn as well as a few county officials.

With help from over two-dozen on-the-record interviews and extensive public records request, Pransky pieces together what seems like a questionable relationship between public relations consultant Leytham and some elected officials.

Leytham has helped Buckhorn's and County Commissioner Ken Hagan's campaigns on a volunteer basis (serving as Buckhorn's spokeswoman in 2011 and for his reelection, which means her services weren't subject to disclosure. Down the road, Leytham's firm as well as firms she represents magically land lucrative city and county contracts for clients of hers that include Go Hillsborough, cab drivers and red-light camera vendor American Traffic Solutions, Pransky reports.

Her work has earned her the nickname 'the gatekeeper to doing business in the city of Tampa or Hillsborough County,' he writes.

The implication here is that the city and county might not be doing their best to get the most bang for the taxpayers' buck.

Leytham and her highly-placed allies deny any wrongdoing.

The revelations come a week after Republican activist Sam Rashid said some pretty nasty things about Leytham, including calling her a slut, on Facebook. Officials and media hope he resigns from his spot on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority because of those remarks.

In the story, WTSP condemns those remarks and assures us that Rashid was not among the dozens contacted for the story, even if the timing was odd and Rashid told others he'd design whether to resign early this week, around the same time the Pransky's story went live.

As if possible ethical breaches (which, again, Leytham and others deny) make it okay to personally attack someone with whom you don't agree.


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