The time is now to fight for President Joe Negron’s Senate Bill 10 to purchase land in the EAA for a reservoir to offset the sometimes toxic, and always damaging, discharges from Lake Okeechobee. The powers that be know the bill is taking some hard hits. They smell blood in the water. Like sharks going in for the kill they are coming from every direction. Just remember, in many instances during a feeding frenzy, sharks turn on each other. So not being a shark myself, I say, “let the games begin…”
Some Major Groups Working Against Negron’s Senate Bill 10.
JTL vs the Political Machine, A Retrospective, Part #5
When I saw my mother yesterday, she said, “Jacqui, I think you need to stop writing about those PACs…I get it now…” One of my Grassroots Team members implied that I may ruin my reputation for running a clean campaign, and compromise my chances to run again, with all the harsh comments coming in on my recent posts….My husband looked at me wide-eyed over a glass of wine: “I thought you tried to keep your campaign out of the blog…?” Joe Catrambone, CEO of the Stuart Chamber, who I like very much, sent out a group email saying: “Jacqui isn’t accepting defeat very well! Speaks volumes doesn’t it!!!”
For those of you who are uncomfortable, or think I am a sore loser, please don’t fret. Today will be my final day investigating those who spent time and money to affect my loss for Martin County Commission District 1.
I do apologize to the Stuart Chamber as they really don’t belong in the category of reptiles as they chose not to send out a negative post card against me, just for Doug Smith; I was simply trying to make the point that the influence of Tallahassee affects home.
Early on, in my own head, I knew that whether I lost or won, I would be reporting on the outcome dynamics of the campaign in my blog. Writing on this issue is all part of my river journey. I know what I am doing, and it will be shared. These insights in time will help us get closer to saving our dying river…
Mom, “don’t worry,” I will stop taunting the alligators very soon! 🙂 But first we must try to see the truth behind the scenes.
Here we go:
Our last PAC to add to the previous three days of postings: Write in Candidate Chase Lurgio; Martin County Firefighters Union’s “Citizens for Public Safety;” C-Pac; and “Committee to Elect Real Conservatives;” (all ridiculous names) and today’s”Committee to Protect Florida.”
So when we look at the third negative post card that came out against the JTL campaign, we see on the bottom it reads: “Paid electioneering Communication for by Committee to Protect Florida, PO Box 102005 Tallahassee, FL 32302.” It is yet another ad full of lies, but I do appreciate that they used two of my favorite pictures of myself, my younger looking real estate head shot from 2007 and the hysterical “piranha photo” Ed took of me in Peru along the Amazon River.
This PAC’s chairperson is Mr Roger “Rockie” Pennington. Mr Pennington is a very well-known in Tallahassee politics. I first heard about Mr Pennington, when I was told in the last campaign cycle that he ran Doug Smith’s campaigns. At the time I wondered why Doug would use someone from Tallahassee….
Rockie Pennington owns Southern Campaign Resources, and according to his website “has been a fixture in Republican politics for nearly four decades.” You can read more here: http://www.southerncampaigns.com
Let’s look up who contributed to his PAC: ironically the Florida Chamber of Commerce at over $100,000 dollars, Florida Jobs Pac, $50,000. These are the same PACs that gave money to C-PAC and Committee to Elect Real Conservatives from yesterday with sprinkles of the sugar industry.
But what is even weirder is when you look up “Nature Coast Conservatives” that gave the lion’s share of the donations, $100,000s of dollars. This PAC is run by Roger Pennington’s partner in Southern Campaign Resources, Mr Mark Zubaly who is listed along with Rocky Pennington on the bio page of Southern Campaign Resources.
As the bio states “(Mark) is a partner in two Tallahassee-based companies that count at least one-fourth of the Florida Legislature among their clients: Southern Campaign Resources, a political consulting and lobbying firm, and Summit Communications, a media production firm. He also serves as the campaign consultant to a number of Florida’s city, county and judicial elected officials.”
And yes…Mark Zubaly was also Rockie Pennington’s PACs treasurer…
Of course as you dig deeper the money keeps going and going and going….
So The Doug Smith Campaign had its own campaign manager with his own PAC with his own partner funding the PAC from his own PAC that uses many of the same questionable donors that were linked to, C-PAC, and the # 2 post card of Josh Cooper who ran opposition research for the Governor. On top of this there was the Firefighters Union PAC, Citizens for Public Safety, sending out positive post cards for Doug Smith, sending out negative post cards against JTL all the while building signs, placing signs, making negative phone calls against JTL, pulling up opposition JTL signs, and waving….
I’d say we did pretty well considering our opponents! What an alligator pit!
I feel like we’re in a Carl Hiaasen book! We don’t even need to go to Miami!
In conclusion, The Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Grassroots Campaign lost to this Political Machine by 2.9% or 677 votes…raised considerably more money and had considerably more diverse support. Supported a clean river and land purchase south of lake…in any case, did not support the status quo…
Wow! What a race!
It was exciting!
And now that we know who we’re in the pit with, maybe next time we’ll get them on their backs and Protect Florida For Real.
Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.
Yesterday we reviewed Write in Candidates, and the Firefighters Union. Today we begin with one of multiple PACs, or Political Action Committees. On the simplest level, a PAC is an organization that raises money privately to influence elections or legislation. PACs must report monies raised to election offices, and the tiers of giving are often multilayered and not easy to trace.
I am going to start with the PAC closest to home, C-PAC. C-PAC is the political action committee for the Stuart Chamber. https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org
I have a lot of acquaintances in the Stuart Chamber, but due to long-standing relationships and other factors the chamber supported my opponent Doug Smith. Thus we study his post card today.
The Stuart Chamber supported Mr Smith by sending out a post card for him. The average political postcard mailing for design, printing, and mailing runs around $15,000, so it is very helpful if a PAC sends out a postcard for you if you are a candidate because then you don’t have to raise the money yourself!
Below is the postcard C-PAC sent out for Doug Smith. Look closely on the back side bottom, it reads: “Paid Electioneering Communication paid for by C-PAC, 1650 S. Kanner, Highway, FL 34994” if Mr. Smith’s campaign had paid for this, it would say that…
For the busy and hardworking public, it is hard to take the time to find out where PACs get their money and thus who is really supporting a candidate so let’s look a bit deeper and see what we find out. It’s fun. Like being a detective!
First of all as C-PACs address is in Martin County, you have to go to the Martin County Supervisor of Election’s website and click on the COMMITTEE INFO, COMMITTEES, C-PAC, and then “Non Election Specific Reporting:”
Once clicking around one can see that in 2015 and 2016, C-PAC accepted PAC money from the following :
I know most of the donors in 2015, but who is Florida Jobs Pac in 2016 who gave $25,000 to C- PAC on 7/14/16? According to the StPetersburgBlog: Florida Jobs PAC is a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. That makes sense–but let’s look at the donations. As Florida Jobs Pac’s address is Tallahassee we must go to the Florida Division of Election’s website and type in Florida Jobs under “Committees:” http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/
This is what comes up. There are many donors but some stand out like Duda and Sons Inc., Florida Crystals, FPL with so many, and United States Sugar Corporation.
So although the postcard says C-PAC. There is more to it than that. Good to know! We’ll study some more of the Tallahasse PACs in the coming days. They are very interesting too.
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.
#1 WRITE IN CANDIDATE (WIC)
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.
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.
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.