Key point: “The Republican Party of Florida, once considered the unstoppable force of the GOP and the model by which all state parties should be run, appears to be plummeting to the ground faster than an ACME Anvil. Despite the national convention being held in Tampa this month, Mitt Romney may want to make like the Road Runner afterwards, and tear away from this collection of political Wile E. Coyotes…Despite promises by state GOP head Lenny Curry and Hillsborough County’s GOP Chair Art Wood that the party would remain on message during the election, these issues make Florida’s GOP appear so scandal ridden and out-of-touch with voters, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky and the 2000 Election may now look like amateur hour.”
August 2, 2012 By: John Guzzardo
The Republican Party of Florida, once considered the unstoppable force of the GOP and the model by which all state parties should be run, appears to be plummeting to the ground faster than an ACME Anvil. Despite the national convention being held in Tampa this month, Mitt Romney may want to make like the Road Runner afterwards, and tear away from this collection of political Wile E. Coyotes.
The most recent “anvil” to fall came when Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan failed to appear for a scheduled deposition in Orlando. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that the deposition was skipped by Buchanan because his attorney was “seriously ill.” The deposition to be given was part of an ongoing lawsuit against Buchanan by former business partner Sam Kazran. The incident has prompted the Florida Democratic Party to publish a “Wanted” poster for Buchanan, intended as a campaign ad to be posted around Sarasota. Robert Stok, a lawyer who is a part of a team working for Kazran, stated yesterday he plans to seek a contempt order against Buchanan compelling him to appear for the deposition or face potential jail time.
“He was pushing it off… I think this is definitely their plan,” attorney Joshua Kon, another member of the legal team working for Buchanan’s former partner in a lawsuit against him, told The Hill, a Washington-based newspaper which covers Congress. “It’s actually why we’re moving for contempt. If the court sanctions him for $5,000 or even $10,000 he doesn’t care, he has the money. He’d rather get three months [until after the election] for $5,000. We want to hold him in contempt and force him to testify.”
The lawsuit against Buchanan is a result of massive fines levied against his dealership and Kazran by the Federal Elections Commission. Buchanan and Kazran together owned several car dealership in the Tampa Bay area at during the election campaign which put him into Congress. Those dealerships included the former Suncoast Ford in Port Richey and Venice Dodge-Nissan. Almost all these businesses were targeted by the U.S. Justice Department several years ago after allegations surfaced of improper contributions to Buchanan’s campaign. The investigation revealed that Buchanan’s pressured employees to make contributions to his campaign, which he later reimbursed the employees for, in clear violation of Federal Law.
Another “anvil” involves Florida’s Executive Branch navigating a cacophony of political landmines. While Governor Rick Scott can claim victory in his fight to have voter registry records handed over to the state by the U.S. Department of Justice, he faces a much more complicated issue: Sunshine Laws. His recent omission of his official state email address from Project Sunburst has raised the eyebrows of many in the media, as well as voters of Florida in general. In addition, Scott painted a giant political target on his back by his public announcement he would “ignore” the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the so-called “Obamacare” legislation.
“Medicaid expansion is bad for states because it would put a tremendous strain on state budgets and increase dependency on government programs,” said Governor Scott in a recent opinion piece on his website. “We don’t need to expand a big-government program to provide for everyone’s needs. What we need is to shrink the cost of health care and expand opportunities for people to get a job so more people can afford it.”
Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, once a party star, is now battling through a variety of issues ranging from anti-gay remarks she later apologized for, to a brother-in-law arrested in connection to a statewide drug ring shipping prescription painkillers between Florida and Kentucky. Ed Beckles, a New Port Richey pharmacist who faces federal charges, is the husband of Carroll’s sister. Combined with lingering allegations of a sex scandal while a Representative from Jacksonville, Carroll now faces the same problem as Scott; being an embattled politician in a hypercharged election cycle.
The most glaring example of a political “anvil” in the GOP is the race for Hillsborough County Property Appraiser. Senator Ronda Storms of Brandon was furious to learn that incumbent Rob Turner planned to run for re-election after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Turner by a now-fired staff member. Turner’s decision to run came even after members of his own party called for him to step aside.
“To me, it shows a complete and utter disrespect for women,” Storms said of Turner’s decision to attempt to retain his seat, “and a flagrant disrespect for the taxpayers.”
Despite promises by state GOP head Lenny Curry and Hillsborough County’s GOP Chair Art Wood that the party would remain on message during the election, these issues make Florida’s GOP appear so scandal ridden and out-of-touch with voters, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky and the 2000 Election may now look like amateur hour.