Thursday, April 19, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Sugar daddy kisses for Scott

It was just a few days ago that Gov. Rick Scott worked himself into a full Cotton Mather lather over proposals sliming their way through the Florida Legislature that would raise caps on campaign contributions in legislative campaigns from $500 to between $3,000 and $5,000 — depending, of course, on just how shamelessly money-grubbing our elected men and women of the people want to be seen.

Scott, who spent $75 million of his own money to buy the Governor's Mansion in 2010, was bereaved over the declasse infusion of unbridled money into the political process.

"Significantly increasing these limits concentrates more power to the already powerful and hurts the inability of individual citizens to be part of the process," Scott whined via his mouthpiece. And great hand-wringing ensued.

No doubt the governor, decked out in a hairshirt and cradling Diogenes' lamp in search of an honest man, would have loved to issue his reproach of the Legislature's effort to turn itself into the Best Little Whorehouse in Tallahassee in person.

But alas, Scott himself has been a busy politician on the make, collecting an average of $50,000 a day, or $4.6 million in re-election campaign donations from deep-pocketed Republican sugar daddies.

Let's be clear. Scott cannot be bought for a measly $5,000. But he is available for a lend-lease deal if the check is at least six figures. The governor has his standards, you know.

You're probably thinking it is the height of hypocrisy for Scott to decry the Florida Legislature wanting to fatten its pockets while he is rolling over to have his ears scratched by a brown bag of prominent Republicans.

But this is Tallahassee, where scruples go to die a quick, painless death.

Included among the many of the GOP's open bar of bag men wanting to stroke Scott's shiny pate as if it was a crystal ball into their ambitions was St. Petersburg's own Daddy Warbucks, Bill Edwards, who wrote a $500,000 check to the governor's campaign baksheesh fund.

South Florida's Wayne Huizenga, who knows a thing or two about hauling waste around, ponied up $250,000. So did Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose hundreds of millions of dollars backed so many losers in the 2012 election cycle he risked becoming the Heaven's Gate of American politics.

Donald Trump, the Great and Powerful Orange Julius, penned a $50,000 check. But that paltry sum in the rarefied air of the parallel universe of Planet Influence Peddling only gives him a seat at the children's table.

To be taken seriously as a contributor of de facto legalized bribes to the governor's political future, Trump is going to have to pick up the pace and follow the example of Florida Power & Light ($250,000), Blue Cross Blue Shield ($237,500), Progress Energy ($100,000) and tea party enclave the Villages, which transferred monies from its witch-burning fund to contribute $100,000.

Why all the floodwaters of slush funds into Scott's re-election effort? Obviously a passion for good government doesn't even draw a limp breath.

Adelson, Edwards and Trump each have real estate interests in Florida that would be enhanced by expanding gambling around the state. FP&L and Progress Energy aren't too crazy about pending legislation that would make it harder to bamboozle their customers by billing ratepayers for nuclear plants that may never be built.

Blue Cross is opposed to a bill that would repeal an unnecessary tax break and use the savings to lower vehicle registration fees. As for Huizenga, he may have found $250,000 in the seat cushions and decided to pass it along to Scott in gratitude for giving his son a seat on the Board of Governors, which oversees state universities.

And you better believe that buried somewhere in the morass of pending legislation there is probably a measure of vital interest to the Villages declaring pelts the official state currency.

Scott amassed such vast sums of money on the way to attempting to build a $100 million campaign war chest, because donors are able to avoid the current $500 donation limit. The governor's campaign fund, "Let's Get to Work," is a political animal called an Electioneering Communications Organization.

As long as "Let's Get to Work" does not specifically use the words "vote for" or "elect" it can accept unlimited amounts of legalized tainted cash. And while state legislators cannot accept campaign contributions during the legislative session, Scott is under no such constraint.

Shady? Tawdry? Craven? Absolutely? And misnamed, too.

Let's Get to the Perks seems more accurate.

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