UPDATE: Scott Maxwell responds at bottom.
Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell has not exactly been gushing in his columns about Florida House Speaker-to-be Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary. In response to Maxwell's latest column about him, Dorworth has penned a letter basically casting Maxwell as a loser and challenging him to run against him:
In his famous “Citizenship in a Republic” speech, Theodore Roosevelt said, “it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”
And Teddy never even met Scott Maxwell.
Maxwell's criticisms against me are spread out among 45 different columns dating back to 2007. He’s written 10 columns about me since 2010 alone, and dedicated 6,422 words in just those 10 columns, mostly criticizing me and arguing I should not be speaker of the House.
But it’s not just that Maxwell is a critic, it’s that he is dishonest, too. Strong words, I know, so here’s the backup.
Maxwell attacks my financial situation repeatedly. What he doesn’t say is that I have just three debts in this world: my home mortgage, a business debt from a real estate deal that went south, and student loans from when I earned my MBA at Duke. I have no credit card debt, no lavish expenditures, and I drive a 2007 Chevy Suburban that I own outright.
He also doesn’t say that on my state-mandated financial disclosure forms, I listed $2.813 million in assets, offset by $2.87 million in the debts listed above. I also reported an income of more than $215,000 last year. I think most small-business men and women, especially those in my line of work, would agree that’s a respectable balance sheet in the Obama economy.
Maxwell attacks me for “foreclosure woes.” What he doesn’t say is that the law firm that brought this case against me has since been disgraced and bankrupted for fraudulent actions in cases like mine.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando has the 13th highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one out of 285 homes in our area receiving a foreclosure notice. Many of these foreclosures arise out of disputes just like the one I am having with my bank. I’m fortunate that I have the resources to fight back. My experience has given me a better understanding of how to fight for those who don't.
I am a small-business man in the real estate industry, and like many in my industry, I was subjected to some tough times as a result of the global market collapse. I know many Floridians have fared much worse in this difficult economy. My experiences shaped my efforts to make sure government doesn't make life harder on the risk-takers who are the backbone of our economy.
Sadly, liberal journalists like Scott Maxwell, who have little understanding of how businesses or the greater economy work, are quick to attack small-business men and women like me.
Maxwell’s dishonest attacks against me are not limited to just my financial situation.
Maxwell has also editorialized several times about what he calls “questionable ethics” stemming from 14 ethics and elections complaints that were filed against me by my Democratic opponent last election.
What Maxwell fails to report is that each and every complaint was reviewed and dismissed by the Ethics Commission and the Elections Commission.
I’ve complied with the spirit and the letter of state disclosure laws for elected officials, and in many instances I’ve gone beyond what’s required, including in columns like this one. Still, Maxwell maintains his false and malicious attacks against me.
The truth of the matter is that I survived the challenges I've faced in recent years, and I'm meeting my obligations as a businessman, a public official, and most importantly as a father.
I debated writing this response, because I didn’t want to give second airing to Maxwell’s garbage. But I know countless Floridians like me who are fed up with liberal thumbsuckers like Maxwell, who sit behind computers all day and do their darndest to put their finger on the scale for liberals like President Obama while making life difficult for anyone who doesn’t share his distorted world view.
A recent Gallup survey found that Americans' distrust of the media has hit an all-time high. Scott Maxwell is but a symptom of that greater disease.
Pat Caddell, a Democratic pollster who worked for Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden, recently gave a speech about “journalists” like Maxwell who are blinded by their personal liberal biases. He said, “It is one thing to bias the news, or have a biased view. It is another thing to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know.”
In the grand scheme of things, my situation, and Maxwell’s glorified tabloid gossip column, are not as serious as the real news that liberal members of the media obscure and distort on a daily basis. But it’s time for those in the arena to fight back whenever and wherever we see this bias at work.
In the same speech most people remember as "The Man in the Arena" speech, Theodore Roosevelt described cynics like Maxwell perfectly as “no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect.”
His speech also inspired me to offer this challenge to Maxwell:
Enter the arena, Scott.
File to run against me. Debate me publicly about the issues facing the state of Florida. Disclose your life history, income and assets for all to see. Convince our fellow Floridians to entrust you with their vote, as they have entrusted it in me in three consecutive elections.
I won’t hold my breath that Maxwell finds the guts or character to take me up on my challenge.
So until he does, he can stick to what he does best: telling us who emceed last weekend’s charity ball, and passionately advocating for the liberal policies that have failed this country every time they have been tried.
And we’ll know that Maxwell’s place will remain with “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, is currently in line to be speaker of the Florida House of Representatives following Will Weatherford, from 2014 to 2016.
Scott Maxwell emailed us a response:
It’s my understanding that our editorial-board editor told Dorworth that he would be happy to run his piece – but that he would first have to make it fit. (It was @ 960 words … longer than some of our Sunday take-out pieces.)
Also, he would need to make it accurate, since it had so many falsehoods.
Apparently, he was unable or unwilling to clear that bar.
So he turned to a website that had no such requirements.
His falsehoods were many – from distortions of what I’ve written to flat-out manufacturing things he claims I said.
(The most amusing one, though, was relatively minor – his count of the number of times I’d supposedly criticized him. When our editors checked, they found that he (or his staff) had simply checked for the number of times our names appeared in the same pieces. Many weren’t critical. And a couple were actually pieces Dorworth had authored himself, complaining about me.)
But it was clear Chris didn’t want to stick to facts, which is why he headed elsewhere.
Perhaps he feels better. If so, mazeltov.
And if he ever wants to consider answering all the questions he has refused – about his income, business partnerships and more – we’d be happy to talk to him.
As he said: I won’t hold my breath.