Sunday, January 03, 2010

More dirty money -- ripoff followed by coverup

This is an unsung scandal of our state government, and though the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times have done spadework to unearth details, the ripoff of the State Board of Administration is not known as widely as it should be.

The Herald is part of the problem. In this instance Alex Sink, the Florida chief financial officer and leading Democratic candidate for governor, is reduced to complaining in a letter to the editor – as if she’s only a reader of the state’s putative flagship newspaper. And in her letter the key details are buried in the 6th paragraph. There she names her likely Republican opponent for governor, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Gov. Charlie Crist as the ones not taking appropriate action.

Let’s call it by its proper name – they are conspiring in a coverup. Coverup of what? “Lost billions for taxpayers.” Billions. With BBBB. And who did it? This blog repeatedly has named former Gov. Jeb Bush as a leading suspect, since he was a paid consultant for Lehman Brothers after leaving office in 2006, and Lehman investments are among the biggest reasons for the losses.

(This link is to a blog post last Tuesday on the St. Petersburg Times story – also published in the Herald – that occasioned Sink’s letter, and down in the 4th paragraph is a link to an earlier post on the SBA scandal.)

Lehman, you’ll please remember, is an ex-resident of Wall Street, now that the bubble there has burst.

And Crist, well, he was attorney general when some of the shenanigans in the State Board of Administration happened, and thus he would have been one of the three trustees overseeing that board, along with the governor (Bush) and the chief financial officer, then Tom Gallagher, a veteran Republican politician who lost to Crist for the 2006 gubernatorial nomination.

Plenty of reason for Crist and McCollum to want to keep this scandal quiet. Would Crist’s bid for the US Senate have any life left at all if this scandal got its due exposure? Would McCollum’s bid for governor need a wheelchair?

Jeb Bush never has stood still for a question on this now almost two-year-old scandal. Jeb, tell us – How much did Lehman pay you to “consult” on having Florida buy their crap investments? Why should Florida taxpayers not consider that a delayed bribe payment?

But back to 2010. This is a complicated story, yet it should be rising to the top of Alex Sink’s drumbeat of campaign talk in this election year. The voters are fed up with corruption and dirty money in politics, and when they go to vote in November they should know that Republicans were the ones ripping them off in Tallahassee. Time for a clean sweep.

With a grit of the teeth: I browsed over to the St. Pete Times to see whether Sink’s letter also was published there, since the investigative piece originated in the Times. No, but the Times had an editorial  worrying that Sink’s office might have favored one law firm over another because of political donations. That’s understandable. I have worried about the same question. My conclusion is that we must get money out of politics. Check out for a bill in Congress that would do it.

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