From the candidates to the political operatives and officials playing in campaigns with their dark money donations and political action committees, we have a problem in Florida politics. The problem is the willingness to use misinformation, deception and in many cases outright lies to try and gain political office.
It would nice to say this is an isolated, local issue that is restricted to a race or two, but that is not the case. Senator Bill Nelson used his access to supposed classified information to say Florida’s election system is compromised and then used that classified information status as an excuse to cast doubt while providing no specifics to back up his claim. It was short on specifics and big on implication. There is no way to affirm the information or determine if Nelson made it up.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam felt the need to lie about his opponent’s record most famously claiming Ron DeSantis supports a 23% national sales tax claiming it would hurt Florida’s economy, especially seniors and tourism, while leaving out that DeSantis was actually a supporter of the FAIR TAX that would eliminate all other federal taxes in what would be the largest tax reform in history.
Attorney General candidate Frank White went the dishonest route by twisting the political and employment history of a vastly more qualified candidate in Ashley Moody. He cited Moody’s record as a federal prosecutor and later as a judge with facts that left out the requirements on the prosecution to act as she did and giving an incomplete picture of one case to claim a sentencing was not being tough on crime when the teen, who was under 18 at the time of his crime, began his adult life with an eight year prison sentence that seems to fit the circumstances.
Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell was called on the carpet by the NRA that had endorsed him in the race for lying about an opponent’s NRA rating.
Melissa Howard, a candidate for the Florida House in Manatee and Sarasota counties, lied about the college degree she doesn’t have. She went as far as flying to her native Ohio to pose for a photograph with she and her mother holding a fake Miami of Ohio diploma. Howard even believed she could stay in the race after admitting the deception until public pressure pushed her out in less than twenty-four hours.
Florida House candidate, Sitting Cocoa mayor Henry Parrish, has repeatedly lied about his opponent Tyler Sirois’ voter registration and employment history (Sirois has always been a republican and was not fired as Parrish claims). Parrish then orchestrated an incident with Sirois supporter Guy Spearman, Brevard’s most powerful lobbyist. A stupid move at best that is certainly politically inept. All this, while having failed for three years to pay the property taxes on his bed and breakfast home and providing woefully inadequate answers to issue questions about the job he seeks.
The district four Brevard County Commission race may provide the most glaring example of where our politics have gone. Rather than take on issues where legitimate talking points could be found, the Trudie Infantini camp which includes State Representative Randy Fine, Seminole State Representative Jason Brodeur (through his PAC funding deceptive mailers which includes donations from lobbyist and former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos) and commissioner John Tobia (who has never hidden his animus toward and desire to remove Smith) has produced mailers that misinform, robocalls that twist Smiths words into what they were not and an onslaught of personal attacks at a good man with whom the cabal has political disagreement. Given the opportunity to disavow the lies and disparagement, Infantini fully embraced them in the interview on my show.
Each of these examples tells me one thing: if we want better government, we’ll have to find better people to serve as candidates, political operatives and consultants. We will only do this if we, as voters, demand better by rejecting the candidates, officials, consultants and money shufflers that make dishonesty the rule rather than the exception.
Liars and scoundrels have no place in public service, yet they believe they have the power not only to serve, but to manipulate the electorate through their evil ways. The sad part is, as long as we allow them to, they do.
August 28th will go a long way toward telling us whether or not they have the power they seek.