Friday, December 15, 2017
Opinion

Political alphabet soup is a sleazy stew

From the looks of things, it would seem poor old Jim Frishe has raised the ire of the Founding Fathers, Sgt. York and the ghost of Joe McCarthy.

After all, when groups with such patriotic, fife and drum, Old Glory names as Accountability in Government and Floridians for Liberty (cue: Proud to Be an American) start portraying you as a hapless, dangerous, out-of-touch political hack, why you almost want to start wondering whether Frishe is really a U.S. citizen, just like that guy in the White House.

But wait: The Alliance for a Strong Economy believes Frishe is a clear and present danger to the state. Citizens for an Enterprising Democracy might just move to Costa Rica if Frishe wins his race for a state Senate seat. The Conservative Leadership Fund practically foams at the mouth at the mere mention of that radical, beret-wearing revolutionary. And the Florida Freedom Council? Don't even get them started. How can anyone be truly free with Jim Frishe haunting the halls of Tallahassee?

So perhaps that explains why this litany of American-loving, freedom-adoring and amber waves of grain disciples have raised at least $228,000 to pay for anti-Frishe commercials and Jim Frishe-Is-Satan mailers. You can never spend too much to protect our beloved Florida from the clutches of despotism.

Frishe is attempting to make the leap from the Florida House to the Senate in a redrawn district against fellow Republican House member Jeff Brandes, R-Eddie Haskell, who is something of a darling among the Koch Brothers Wannabe Club.

In reality, there really isn't much of a gnat's difference between the two men's conservative bona fides, except for one very important detail. Frishe, it seems, has found himself on the dark side of the fawning sycophant divide.

In essence, if one aspires to become part of the power-broker cabal in the Florida House and Senate, which is akin to leading the Bowery Boys meets the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles, one must declare one's ambitions years in advance.

Frishe made the horrific error of aligning himself with Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is vying to become Senate president in 2016. Latvala is something of an apostate among Florida Republicans since from time to time he engages in original thought. And to be fair, Latvala has transferred $100,000 from his Florida Leadership Fund to the Committee to Protect Florida, which has sent out leaflets critical of Brandes. There are no clean hands in this mud-slinging.

It comes as no surprise the forces at work to deny Frishe a Senate seat include state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who also wants to be Senate president. Negron is part of the phony political action committee Alliance for a Strong Economy, which has contributed $70,000 to Accountability in Government, an umbrella PAC, to spend on ads attacking Frishe.

Poetic irony, isn't it, that the group endeavoring to sabotage the political process and avoid accountability goes by the initials AIG?

Alliance for a Strong, Odious Stench of Political Duplicity also counts among its membership those paragons of virtue Sen. JD Alexander and outgoing Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Outgoing House Speaker Dean Cannon's bogus Florida Freedom Council tossed in $20,000, and incoming 2014 Speaker Chris Dorworth, whose personal financial acumen makes Greece look like a robust economy, sent $50,000 from his sham PAC to AIG to undermine Frishe's campaign.

But for sheer shamelessness, nothing quite measures up to the disingenuous explanation offered up by Brandes, who claimed he knew nothing about who was supporting AIG even as he was donating $38,000 from his own PAC, Floridians for Liberty — or Craven Politicians Conning the Public With Fake Patriotic Names — to go after Frishe.

Let's see. An axis of chicanery, made up of some of the Legislature's most prominent back-stabbers — including an ambitious Senate president candidate wooing Brandes' vote — launders money into a campaign to discredit Frishe, and the candidate insists he has no idea who might be behind it all?

No one will ever mistake Jim Frishe for a leading intellectual light of Republican conservatism. But he is entitled to a fair fight in his Senate race instead of having to run against a sleazy stew of perfidy stirred by a host of contrived Pusillanimous Action Committees.

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