Will Meek Be the Last Pol Standing in Nov.?

June 4, 2010

In the 3 way race that is expected to develop for Florida Senate, Kendrick Meek is perfectly positioned to benefit from scandals rocking the Florida GOP.  No party Charlie Crist’s hand-picked head of the Florida Republicans was just arrested for… stealing from the Florida Republicans.  Marco Rubio is also caught up in the scandal, as the IRS is investigating reports that he more or less lived off of a Florida Republican Party American Express Card for several years.  Perhaps most importantly, Crist’s and Rubio’s problems are indicative of a GOP brand in Florida that is heavily tainted by rampant corruption.

Charlie Crist made a big splash when he dumped the GOP and went independent.  Polls showed him as the new front runner.  But Charlie has a little problem.

Jim Greer was Charlie Crist’s pick to head the Florida GOP – Charlie almost singlehandedly inserted Greer into the post and Crist supported Greer right up to the day he resigned in January.  Charlie Crist was Jim Greer’s only friend for quite some time during late 2009 and January 2010.  Of course, we all know that Charlie’s buddy was just arrested.

Charlie’s Greer problem does help in one way – it has taken the spotlight off of his Scott Rothstein problem.

Marco Rubio is in big trouble.  Rubio shot to the lead in the GOP primary by playing to his Tea Bagging base.  He is running on tax reform, secure borders, the second amendment, and every other right wing hot button issue.  Oh, and he is the outsider who is untainted by scandal and corruption – his web ads all proclaim “Principles Stand for Something…  Stand With Marco.”  Oops.

RPOF Individual Spending On AmEx Cards

Speaker Marco Rubio – $110,000
Indicted Speaker Ray Sansom – $173,000
Speaker-designate Dean Cannon – $175,000
Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos – *$2,347
Rubio Chief of Staff Richard Corcoran – $70,000
RPOF Executive Director Delmar Johnson – $500,000
Jr. Party Staffer Melanie Phister – $1,258,000

It turns out that what Marco stands for is the right to live large on a state party AMEX given to him by… Jim Greer. Rubio and other users of State Party AMEX cards are currently under investigation by the FBI and IRS.

Federal law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff, according to sources familiar with the probe.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Tallahassee, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are all involved in the probe, which grew out of the state investigation into former House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was indicted on criminal charges that he stashed $6 million in the state budget for an airplane hangar for a friend and campaign donor.

In the federal case, Sansom and others could be charged with making false statements on their tax returns and tax evasion.

Meanwhile, in a separate inquiry, the IRS is also looking at the tax records of at least three former party credit card holders — former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-state party chairman Jim Greer and ex-party executive director Delmar Johnson — to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry.

If any of these big spenders enjoyed any personal financial gain from the use of these cards, the IRS will expect to find said financial gain declared as income on the big spenders’ tax returns.  The IRS can get kind of picky about this kind of stuff.

Regardless of undeclared personal income, the idea that Rubio managed to spend over $100,000 of party donor’s money in a short period of time kind of belies his status as principled outsider.  His zealous defenders wont mind, but more moderate potential supporters may be turned off by his easy corruptibility and rank hypocrisy, not to mention his far right stands on issues like HIR and immigration.

Last fall he opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, the country’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, saying he had concerns about her case history and testimony on issues such as the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He opposes counting undocumented immigrants in the U.S. census and providing them a pathway to citizenship.

He suggested in an interview with a conservative publication, Human Events, that even illegal immigrant children who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. shouldn’t be allowed to stay. He later told The Associated Press: “Young children have to go wherever their parents are.”

And after initially expressing concerns about Arizona’s immigration law, the nation’s harshest, Rubio reversed his position and came out in support, saying subsequent changes aimed at preventing racial profiling have greatly improved it.

“Most people, what they know about Marco Rubio is that he’s a young, well-spoken guy who’s Hispanic,” said Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican state representative in Florida who was born in Colombia and supports Rubio’s rival Gov. Charlie Crist. “People don’t know the details.”

Zapata said that the Hispanic community would love to support a Latino candidate but that Rubio’s views don’t further the causes of Hispanic voters.

“I’ve known him for a long time and I’ve worked with him and I’m terribly disappointed in the positions he’s taken,” he said.

At times it seems as if the entire leadership of the Florida Republican Party is engulfed in scandal.  Former Speaker Ray Sansom is under indictment for grand theft.  Which led to the GOP credit card investigation that Marco Rubio is caught up in and, eventually, the arrest of Crist’s buddy Jim Greer.  Money Man Alan Mendelsohn indicted for fraud and money laundering.  Crist favorite Scott Rothstein indicted for a massive ponzi scheme – he funneled proceeds to Florida politicians of both parties, but the only politician he ever baked a cake for was Charlie Crist.  The list goes on and on.

Crist money-raisers have been charged with crimes, while Greer, his hand-picked state party chairman, is the target of probes; Republican candidate Marco Rubio, among 31 Republican politicians and operatives who are facing FBI and IRS scrutiny, has the IRS looking at his use of state party credit cards.

The avalanche of criminal investigations began in early 2009 with the indictment of former House Speaker Sansom after he accepted a $110,000-a-year job at Northwest Florida State College on the very day he became speaker. A St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald investigation showed how in the previous two years, Sansom steered $35 million to the school.

As part of the Sansom investigation, State Attorney Willie Meggs obtained records detailing Sansom’s lavish charges to a GOP American Express card totaling more than $173,000.

The credit card charges sparked federal investigations of Sansom and Greer, the GOP chairman who had been living a life of luxury with chartered jets, four-star hotels and chauffeured limousines charged to his party card

…. Anyone who obtained personal benefits from the cards and failed to report them to IRS could be in trouble.

Now, Kendrick Meek has his own problems, but recent reports tying him to a failed Miami development indicate he was burned by family and staff, and that he had no personal knowledge of any shenanigans.  There’s apparently nothing there, but the “scandal” will be dredged up constantly to provide some balance to the scores of GOP troubles being reported.

Meek is a hard campaigner – he is the only statewide candidate to have ever qualified for the ballot via petition.  He did this by getting out and meeting people and energizing volunteers to gather signatures.  He is largely unknown, even among Democrats, and as he introduces himself to voters, his poll numbers will rise.

All 3 candidates will be battered by November, but if Kendrick Meek can take advantage of the big scandals enveloping his main rivals, he may well be the last man standing, and, with luck, we may end up with a true progressive representing Florida in the Senate.

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One Response to Will Meek Be the Last Pol Standing in Nov.?

  1. Rubio Drilling Deeper and Deeper on June 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

    [...] that they wont end up expending much effort for him in the end.   But that’s fodder for another post. This entry was posted in Politics and tagged Charlie Crist, Florida, Kendrick Meek, Marco Rubio, [...]

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