Doug Guetzloe, a one-man tea party in Central Florida for decades before tea parties, and a political consultant and radio commentator who survived multiple controversies, and even a federal conviction and imprisonment on tax charges, to remain a potent voice against government spending, has died, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
The newspaper reported that Guetzloe’s death, which occurred earlier this week, was confirmed by his family Thursday, and that the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando was making funeral arrangements.
Guetzloe, 63, of Orlando, often made himself the central figure in oppositions to big spending plans for local projects, from publicly financed arenas, to rail projects, to expressways. And over the course of the past 35 years he claimed several big victories as voters or boards rejected items he opposed.
Guetzloe also was embroiled in numerous controversies, including reports a decade ago, in The Sentinel and elsewhere, that he allegedly sold his opposition or support, or his endorsements, to whichever side would hire him as a political consultant. A lifelong Republican who was president of the Florida State University student government, he also battled with the Republican establishment. He was ousted from the Orange County Republican Party Executive Committee in 2009, which led to a legal fight. He then founded the TEA Party of Florida, and wound up in litigation with other tea party organizations.
He fell hard in 2012 when he was convicted of failing to file federal tax returns, and went to federal prison. Still, when he got out of prison after a few months, he resumed his business as a consultant and political commentator, both across the state and in Central Florida.
Throughout the course of his career, he and his Ax the Tax organization and other organizations and businesses he founded were the banes of local politicians and community leaders pushing civic projects or big spending with public monies. A big man with a deep baritone voice, Guetzloe could bring discomfort to city or county commissioners or other officials just by showing up at their meetings.