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REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MONEY – SPEND IT OR STEAL IT?

February 22, 2013

REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MONEY – SPEND IT OR STEAL IT?

We who live here in Southwest Florida are the victims of daily political assaults by a county-wide majority of a some two-to-one Republican base.  Most of such assaults are tired reruns of the Fox propaganda machine, though some are new, like the line that Obama was a bosom buddie of Saul Alinsky, notorious left-winger (a curious charge unless Alinsky spoke to Commisar Obama from the grave). Obama was ten when Alinsky died.

Such an impossible assertion is joined by others: “Your taxes are paying for a ragtag collection of dictators and socialists,” “Prayer in public is under assault like never before in America,” “Young children are forced into sexual orientation training,” “Did  you know that most grocery stores only keep a 3 day supply of food on hand?” (All of the foregoing quotes from the fear and hate mongers are genuine.)

JoAnn Wypijewski,  a columnist and author who is traveling the country to research a book she will be writing,  made a pit stop at the Republican National Convention in Tampa several months ago, and reports on her conversations with people there representing all the factions of the Republican party, including but not limited to tea party Republicans, moderate Republicans, libertarian Republicans et al. Some of her conversations with delegates there reveal the deep fissures in that party, fissures the convention needed to paper over in order to present a united front to the general electorate in the fall.

This essay is the first of two or three which will be my response to the Republican assaults on the rest of us and this first one may be considered a counter-assault on Republicans, who have little to be proud about here in Florida. Aside from the usual and not unexpected gerrymandering of state and federal legislative districts and the usual and not unexpected tax cuts for the rich, their political monopoly here has yielded the usual and not unexpected corruption in high circles. I had occasion to write a letter to the editor in the local newspaper (which, to my amazement, was published) regarding a guilty plea by a former state Republican chairman to taking campaign money for his own and the atmosphere of corruption which surrounded these events. The following is an expansion of the theme of that letter.

There was a reason for a guilty plea, and it had little to do with criminal defendant James Greer, the now disgraced former state Republican chairman. It had to do with what such dirty laundry would reveal at trial. His guilty plea short-circuited a trial on that and other issues and the former Republican state chairman is now awaiting sentencing. Had he not entered a plea to avoid trial, the result would have had both state and national implications. Senator Rubio (before he was elected and went to Washington) was involved in having his fingers in the pot, too, but escaped indictment, pleading misunderstanding and negligence. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, was the Republican who appointed James Greer from obscurity to state Republican chairman. His role in this “fingers in the pot” of campaign funds scandal is unclear, beyond appointing a top official who became a convicted felon, convicted by his own admission.

What is clear is this: That if Republicans ever run Rubio for national office, they can expect to see festoons of national investigative reporters come to Florida to find out the truth of Rubio’s involvement. They can also expect to see bundles of demands and requests under the Freedom of Information Act whose responses will help to explain Rubio’s involvement in this intermixture of personal and campaign funds. As a former prosecutor and defense lawyer, I am suspicious that Greer was taking a lot of heat to cop out to protect others in high places who might have been involved in this “free money” bonanza. Some of the sighs of relief one could have heard all the way from Washington to Tallahassee were appropriate responses to “what could have been at trial.” Specifically, had the defendant Greer taken the stand, his cross examination by the prosecutor might have ended the political careers of more than one prominent Floridian Republican, as it should have. I do not believe for a moment that Greer was the only one in on the take, but without a trial and a defendant on the stand, we will be unlikely to ever know the truth (unless Rubio runs for president).

On the state level, our Republican governor Scott is playing village liberal with education and Obamacare  lately, this after mercilessly putting down Obamacare and making savage cuts in education. Why? That’s an easy one; he’s running for reelection in less than two years. I will have more to say about Scott via JoAnn Wypijewski as extracted from her conversations with Florida Republicans at their national convention in Tampa not long ago, some of which is amusing. Stay tuned. GERALD  E

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