Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Florida Republicans Destroying Each Other? It Must Be Alan Grayson's Doing!


I like the title of John Amato and Dave Neiwert's new book, Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane; there's a great deal of folksy truth in it. But it's deadly serious, and John and Dave have been tracking the extremist elements of the American right for many years. A more slapstick version would have been Over the Cliff: How Alan Grayson's Election Drove the Florida Republican Party Insane.

These days Florida Republicans see Grayson behind every palm tree and, more important, every scandal that has turned the party into a national laughingstock. Marco Rubio and David Rivera don't pay their mortgage for six months, get foreclosed on and... they see the hand of Alan Grayson. Factions of teabaggers run against each other, brawl and call the police to arrest each other... and it must be Grayson manipulating the whole drama. Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum, far right sociopath Rick Scott, new party chair John Thrasher and Senate President-Designate Mike Haridopolos get into a knockdown, drag-out brawl over who forced crooked Republican Party chief Jim Greer to resign, and somehow Grayson is behind the fireworks. Marco Rubio charges his back-waxing to a magic Republican Party credit card, and the back-waxer who snitched must have been paid by Grayson. Anti-Cuba hard-liner David Rivera is exposed for lying about his close relationship with Ariel Pereda (who works facilitating trade with Castro's Cuba), who, it turns out, is the former chairman of a political fundraising committee Rivera was part of... the hand of Alan Grayson. Florida right-wing blogs the Shark Tank and the Babalú Blog abandon GOP Establishment candidate David Rivera for extremist Paul Crespo, and Republicans are certain Grayson has persuaded the two blogs to get behind the unelectable and somewhat deranged Crespo. And now it comes out that the same Rivera has a court record as a serial domestic abuser, someone who beats up women, and... guess who they're trying to blame?

I called Marili Cancio, the one sane person in the increasingly bloody Republican Party primary for the chance to take on front-runner Joe Garcia in the race for the South Florida congressional seat abandoned by Mario Diaz-Balart. I asked her, is Alan Grayson behind the court records about Rivera's domestic violence episodes leaking out? She laughed. "David is the worst possible candidate-- a dream come true for Joe Garcia, with no appeal to independent voters," the respected Miami attorney told me. Marili is the one Republican in the primary whose mainstream values actually could appeal to independent voters. Unlike the others, she isn't consumed with hatred, bigotry and extremism. And unlike Rivera, she abhors the kind of corporate-political corruption that is the hallmark of his career. She doesn't think Grayson has anything at all to do with the allegations against Rivera. "David has more enemies than anyone I've ever met in my life. People don't come forward publicly because they're afraid of retribution... There wasn't much scrutiny when he ran in 2002 and these allegations [Marili refers to them on her Facebook page] first got aired. He said it was a case of 'mistaken identity'... Men who beat up women are the ultimate cowards. If the allegations are true, he's not fit for any office." 

Although I couldn't speak with Rivera directly, I spoke with his campaign this morning, and they deny everything. They say that it's a different David M. Rivera, and that he never dated the woman in question. Sources in Miami laugh when they're told his official reaction. Friends of the woman, Jenia Dorticós, say Rivera's reputation as an inveterate liar speaks for itself.

Marili herself is more concerned with Rivera's financial shenanigans, and feels that voters in FL-25 need to look at how he managed to gobble up a million dollars in corporate "contributions" during the legislative session, especially from Big Oil and the sugar interests. Rivera was also recently criticized when his campaign sent all of Florida International University's faculty and staff a fundraising solicitation.  The letter cited funding that Rivera, as chairman of the Florida legislature's budget committee, appropriated to the school, prompting university Provost Douglas Wartzok to condemn the effort as inappropriate and Garcia's campaign to label it as "a shakedown." Rivera's campaign dismissed the controversy as "an internal FIU matter" to the Miami Herald, although observers have called it a clear case of extortion. Marili is convinced that if the DC Establishment manages to deliver the Republican nomination to Rivera, Garcia will walk away with the seat. I was stunned when she told me, "David does not hold a candle to Joe Garcia for the general election. If Rivera wins the primary, we'll be giving the seat away." I asked her if she was sure she wanted me to quote her saying that. "Absolutely," she said.

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At 6:21 PM, Blogger Bob King said...

Just for those of us not familiar with how baseball is played in florida (clearly, neck deep in a swamp, with sledgehammers), who the heck is Alan Grayson?

At 4:51 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

You must be new to DWT. Grayson is the best member on Congress. He represents Orlando.


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