Sunday, September 25, 2016

How Special Interests Defeated A Clean Water Advocate In Martin County ... by gimleteye

Florida's "Arab Spring" -- as a result of massive pollution coursing out of Lake Okeechobee to both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts -- energized tens of thousands of citizens, outraged how their property, neighborhoods, and towns had been turned into sacrifice zones for Big Sugar. Predictably, special interests struck back through the way they know best: how to manipulate money in the campaign finance system to keep dissent in check and the status quo in place.

For the Martin County Commission, the races were settled in the partisan GOP primary election. One of the most qualified candidates for the commission, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch has blogged about what happened to her campaign. She was mugged by Big Money and negative tactics including the recruitment of a high school student to run in the primary. The money is shifted through political committees allowable by law. The tactics are assembled by some of Florida's richest corporations.

Since Citizen's United decisions by the Bush Supreme Court, waves of unlimited corporate contributions have flooded the political process. Political action committees, coordinated by a very small group of insiders based in Tallahassee are boldly sending attack parties into local elections. The first local election this phenomenon was visible was the 2012 defeat of Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah -- a Republican who was taken down by Big Sugar because he strongly advocated for the state purchase of Big Sugar lands in order to protect the economy and natural resources of South Florida.

Florida's "Arab Spring" continues to rely on social media to expand its ranks, but the counter-revolution supported by the state's largest, most powerful corporations, combined with propaganda radiating from the state's water management districts, has the effect of firing warning shots at incumbents and challengers, both.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch's blogs on her narrow defeat are well worth reading in Miami. Educated voters are the only way to address the hijacking of elections in Florida. It is a dark story, and one worth sharing widely.

JTL vs The Political Machine, A Retrospective. Parts 1&2 Write in Candidate & Firefighters Union, SLR/IRL

Now that the dust is settling, it is important to study and document the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political machine. The narrow loss to 16 year incumbent Doug Smith, by only 677 votes or 2.9% makes the retrospective even more interesting!
As there is such a plethora of material, today we will research only parts #1 and #2: The Write in Candidate (WIC), and the Martin County Firefighters Union. In follow-up posts, we will breakdown the influence and monies of the political action committees and their cohorts better known as PACs.

One very effective way the political machine affects a race is by putting in a “write in candidate.” Because of a constitutional amendment brought forward by the voters in 1998, Florida is a “universal primary state,” meaning in a primary election that determines the General Election,  voters of all parties are allowed to vote. But there is one “opinion” loophole that came later: “if a write in candidate (opposition) enters the race, the race becomes closed.”
Write in candidates could be real candidates who at the last minute decide to run, or they can be fake candidates who are put up by the “powers that be” to close the primary race to one party, or for the “benefit” a certain candidate.
This is what happened in the JTL District 1 race. Chase Lurgio, an 18 year old teenager at Jensen Beach High School, who is certainly a not in a position to be a county commissioner, was put up for the benefit of Mr Smith the last days of June. The race had been going on since September the year before.
Who put up this candidate and was he awarded for service? This we may never know, but as we study the players in the arena we begin to get an idea….
If you are interested, all of Chase Largo’s WIC information can be found on the Martin County Supervisor of Elections’ website; also, one can call and request his qualification papers. There is not much to learn as a  write in candidate pays no fee, (“real” county commission candidates are required to pay almost 4,000$ or get 1100 petitions signed to quality); WIC do not have to fundraise, participate in forums, etc.., can be of the same party they close, (as is the case of Chase Lurgio who is a Republican himself like me and Doug Smith); they do not have to put forth a biography…nothing is really required to be a WIC, you just have to be willing to sign up.–they don’t even have to live in the county!
To repeat, the JTL Campaign, a loud independent voice for the health of the St Lucie River, a bipartisan issue with broad appeal to all parties was threatening to the political machine and to Doug Smith. So the race was closed by a WIC, disenfranchising  over half the voting population of Martin County (Democrats and Independents.)  Considering the will of the people 1998 constitutional amendment made Florida a universal primary state, this does not seem correct.
Numbers of Martin County Registered Voters: |Republican: 55,015 | Democrat: 27,501 | Other: 26,591 | Total: 109,107
People can change parties but this is a lot to ask, and only a very small population even figure out what is going on. Many voters are furious when they get to the polls and names they expected to vote for are not on the ballot.
Mind you, I have no problem with true write in candidates or closed primaries. However the tactics of Florida’s present system are fraudulent and encourage foul play. The only way to change this is to work against the corruption of WIC fraud and in time get the state constitution changed for either straight closed primaries or open primaries.
In conclusion, as time goes on more and more law suits have arisen regarding WIC and in fact there is a case in the Florida Supreme Court Case pending although one was just determined and the opinion on WICs was upheld. It is the people who must overturn this fraudulent part of our system.
Chase Largo’s Facebook picture has been widely distributed since he signed up to be a WIC

Another factor affecting the JTL race was the Martin County Firefighters Union. The MC Firefighters Union has been at an impasse with the Martin County Commission for raises etc… To overcome this situation, they have regrouped and developed a ruthless union that has raised dues to back candidates that promote their interests.
It is kind of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” approach. As was quite obvious during the race, where I used my grassroots team, Doug Smith used the firefighters. They put his signs together in the union parking lot and waved signs along with their families on the side of the road in sweltering heat.
They also raised extra money with their union dues to send out a negative post card against me and later made direct phone calls to citizens in my hometown of Sewall’s Point stating untruths.
Their Political Action Committee, Citizens for Public Safety, (PAC) sent out the ad below and by clicking on the link one can see they raised over 100,000 dollars in their PAC to run negative ads against candidates. On average it cost about 15,000$ to send out one postcard.
If you go to the link from the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and enter their PAC “Citizens for Public Safety” into COMMITTEES you will see reporting.
GO HERE TO LOOK UP MC Firefighters’ Citizens for Public Safety or any PAC:
The misleading ad they sent out against the JTL Campaign is below. Look closely and you will see “Paid electioneering communication paid for by Citizens for Public Safety”
As I said many times during the course of my campaign, I am forever grateful to the firefighters for saving my life when I broke my neck in 2001, but I find their campaigning for any candidate a total conflict of interest. It will be interesting to see if  Mr. Smith supports their raises in the coming budget cycles. I am also surprised the “Republican” candidate would have such a close relationship with unions.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Hope you learned something today. I certainly have! See you for part 3, Stuart Chamber’s C-PAC in the coming days.
IMG_5289 2.jpg
Postcard sent out by Citizens for Public Safely-MC Firefighters Union
back of card

1 comment:

Cyndi said...

What happen to Jacque is horrifying. I have no idea what the people here want but if its dirty water they need to let the rest of know.