Even while the State’s CFO Alex Sink is calling for a special session and Speaker of the House Ray Sansom is poor mouthing about the budget and telling House members that there will be no local pork given out during this upcoming legislative session, check out the location Sansom is speaking from – WaterColor -that extremely upscale locale in northwest Florida. And as it turns out, Republican House members are there for their inaugural meeting at a cost of $400 per night. Of course, they say it’s at the expense of the Republican Party of Florida. But hasn’t Greer been chastised enough for his ridiculous spending lately?
Although 150 people are at Watercolor for this Republican party hoe-down, only 74 of them are House members. Who are the other 76? Lobbyists? Sansom says they are banned, although they are certainly welcome to contribute money. House staff? Most likely. Family members? Maybe. But who knows.
Another question comes to mind: How did the Legislature work their way around this one not being a gift under the lobbying provisions. Under Section 11.045(a), Florida Statutes, no lobbyist or principal shall make, directly or indirectly, and no member nor employee of the Legislature shall knowingly accept, directly or indirectly, any expenditure, except floral attangements or other celebratory items given to legislators and displayed in chambers the opening day of a regular session.
Now we all know lobbyists and their principals give lots and lots of money to the political parties. So, this provision of the statute would seem to prohibit this kind of event from happening. So how are they getting away with this? Well, if you check the definition of “expenditure” in Section 11.045(1), you’ll notice that the Legislature very conveniently excluded contributions or expenditures made to political parties. So essentially, they have effectively set up the political parties as money-launderers for these types of events.
At this point you may be saying to yourself that all of this is disgusting, interesting, or boring (whichever case it may be) that these Republican House legislators are partying up at WaterColor in these extremely dire economic times, but what does this have to do with Jacksonville politics? Well remember I told you 74 Republican House members are at WaterColor? That’s all but two of the Republican House members that are at this toney wing ding.
So let’s do some math:
How many member of the Duval Delegation are House members? 8 (Adkins, Carroll, Gibson, Jones, McBurney, Ray, Renuart, and Weinstein). Of those 8, how many are Republicans? 6 (Adkins, Carroll, McBurney, Ray, Renuart, and Weinstein). So at best, at least 4 of our local Republican House members are living it up at WaterColor; at worst, all 6 of our local Republican House members are living it up at WaterColor.
All of this while the State is facing a projected 3.5 billion dollar deficit.
Meanwhile, in their organizational meeting, the Florida Senate rolled back their conflict of interest and contribution rules evidently in a voice vote – but that’s for another post.
Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, Audrey Gibson, Charles McBurney, Doc Renuart, Florida Legislature, Janet Adkins, Jennifer Carroll, Lake Ray, Mia Jones, Mike Weinstein, WaterColor