In what’s starting to look like a pattern, another prominent Florida Democrat has been cleared of bogus allegations that never should have seen daylight.
An official state audit has found the worst thing they could pin on former Democratic Party chair and 2006 candidate for governor Scott Maddox was “poor hiring decisions.”
…the audit found that Maddox, one of three Democratic candidates, had no direct knowledge of the flawed finances and instead pinned the blame on Debbie Griffin-Bruton, the party’s comptroller who earlier in the week shouldered the blame for the errors.
Party Chairwoman and former U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman said the party has paid back the $196,000 necessary to remove the lien placed on the party’s assets and that the $926,000 that was reported missing from the party’s coffers never actually was missing.
Melanie Hines, a former statewide prosecutor who led the audit, said the $926,000 had simply been miscoded through a series of mistakes by the party’s bookkeepers…
The bookkeeper, it was recently revealed, began having trouble with the party’s finances about the same time her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. He has since been placed in assisted living.
In March, former state senator and Orlando Mayor Democrat Buddy Dyer was cleared of election law violations following a lengthy and controversial investigation. Dyer had paid a consultant to get out absentee votes during a special mayoral election in 2003, a common practice used by candidates from both parties. A vaguely written statute, never applied in the state, was cited as possibly having been violated.
With much fanfare, Jeb personally suspended Dyer from office. Dyer and others in his campaign, including its manager and a Circuit Court judge, were booked into the Orange County jail.
Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement appeared at the doors of mostly elderly black voters during the 2004 primary season. Those of us who lean toward skepticism might say the purpose of the investigation was to sling mud and intimidate Kerry voters.
In early June , FDLE agents began knocking on voters’ doors in Lake Mann Homes, a public housing complex on Orlando’s west side.
When they first stopped by Hattie Bowman’s house, she wasn’t home. So agents questioned her 9-year-old daughter. They wanted to know where mom was, who she was with, what type of car she drove.
When Bowman returned, she could see firearms under the agents’ coats. They told her they were conducting a criminal investigation.
“When they said “criminal,’ I said, “Oh my God,”‘ Bowman said. They wanted to ask her 19 questions – on tape.
“As scared as I was,” she said, “I didn’t believe it.”
She knew it was legal to vote by absentee ballot. And she did that again during the Aug. 31 primary.
About a mile away, agents asked voter Annie Justice if Thomas bribed her.
“If he bought votes, I want my money,” she joked.
The agents didn’t frighten her either, she said.
“I am not easily intimidated – believe me,” she said.
In late June, Thomas called a news conference to decry the FDLE’s tactics. Democratic activists claimed scores of voters were too scared to vote absentee.
“There are African-Americans who believe that if you vote absentee, you will have cops showing up at your door,” said Egan, the Democratic lawyer.
Despite a mild public uproar when Jeb’s minions were forced to back down, Dyer got very little in the way of vindication. A few editorials called for an investigation of the investigation but people were soon distracted by other bright, shiny objects and at least Dyer was subsequently re-elected.
Maddox was a predictable target. He took on the Bush machine as he led Florida back from the 2000 embarrassment and refused to cede the state during the 2004 elections. Now national headlines have proclaimed that Florida’s Democratic Party is in financial trouble. Even Maddox’s own taxes have been scrutinized, as we recently noted. The piling-on was summed up by the blog, Florida Politics in an entry:
“Maddox tardy with his taxes” and once forgot to send his mother a birthday card.
Even in announcing Maddox is cleared, the headlines are focused on his poor judgement in hiring (which could have been way worse – Griffin-Bruton was previously financial director of Tallahassee’s Parks and Recreation Department), and the idea that Florida’s Democrats are in debt persists. Another smear mission accomplished, thanks to Republican spinmasters and all the Florida Dems who jumped on Maddox, either from internal grudges or because they’re backing another candidate for governor.