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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Florida's corruption underrated by the national media

Yesterday FBI Special Agent Robert Grant was repeatedly quoted as saying, "If [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor." Florida is feeling ignored.

First of all, no one can top former governor Jeb Bush stealing Florida's electoral votes and the 2000 election for his brother. Urban legend claims that Mayor Richard J. Daley stole the 1960 election for Kennedy. Yet even if Daley delivered Illinois' then-27 electoral votes for Kennedy, Kennedy's 303-219 victory was greater than 54. So even if Illinois had gone to Nixon, Kennedy still would have won 276-246. By contrast, if Gore would have received the 25 votes he won in Florida, the result would have been Gore 291, Bush 246.

Second, it must be acknowledged that Illinois has displayed bi-partisan, continuous corruption by following Republican Governor George Ryan with Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. Florida nearly matched that, however, by having Democrat Tim Mahoney succeed Republican Mark Foley in its 16th congressional district.

In addition to Tim Mahoney and Mark Foley, who can forget the Bob Allen sex scandal? Getting beyond the gay-sex prostitution part, this was fiscally irresponsible. I mean, who offers to pay $20 to perform oral sex? That's ass backwards (small pun intended), in my humble opinion.

But if you want major-league, quid pro quo corruption from Florida, you need look no further than Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom. He awarded a $25.5 million building to Northwest Florida State College while being put on their payroll for $110K/year. As Scott Maxwell reported Sansom was the most egregious offense among many in Tallahassee:
The trouble is: Floridians have gotten so used to Tallahassee shenanigans, they don't know when to get outraged anymore.

Sansom, after all, is at least the third legislator to win a high-paying job in higher education. And that's just this year.

It gets tiring to be outraged so often.

There was Mike Haridopolos, the Republican senator from Indialantic, who snagged a $75,000 job at UF -- for part-time work.

And Evelyn Lynn, the Republican senator from Ormond Beach who has overseen university budgets and got a $100,000-plus job with FSU.

It used to be politicians at least left office before they started parlaying their public service into paychecks.

Lynn at least had the decency to back away from her deal, even going so far as to volunteer to do the work for free.

No such offer from Sansom. And his is the most egregious, both because of the timing and because of his position.

Sansom's actions actually embarrassed the legislature, which I didn't think was possible anymore.

That's why Sansom's fellow Republicans should ask him to leave if he won't go himself.
Maxwell followed up Sunday's column with details about Governor Charlie Crist's $430,000 taxpayer-expensed trip to Europe.

So never underrate Florida when it comes to corruption. Florida is definitely an offensive juggernaut. This is why we need a corruption playoff.