Ginny Brown-Waite leaves sorry legacy

In the past few days, Republican U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite has been called everything from dirty and disloyal to underhanded and dishonest.

And that's just by members of her own party.

  • Scott Maxwell
  • Scott Maxwell
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  • What was Brown-Waite thinking?

    U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite decided at the last minute not to seek re-election and gave Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent advance notice so he could qualify to run with little opposition.

    Did she betray her party and constituents?

    • Yes. She limited the field to her handpicked choice and kicked our democratic process in the teeth.
    • No. She knows what kind of person her constituents would favor, so she just played the political game.
    • Who cares at this point? It's a done deal.
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They're right.

But in looking at the big picture, Brown-Waite's latest actions probably mark a fitting end to a congressional career highlighted by extremism, hypocrisy — and even talk of digging up corpses.

First, though, a look at her elections scam.

Brown-Waite set things in motion by loudly declaring that she was seeking re-election in the 5th District, which includes portions of Polk and Lake counties.

As a result, a number of respected Republicans — including Sen. Mike Fasano and Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano — decided not to run. They did so out of loyalty to the party and respect for Brown-Waite's strength as an incumbent.

Only Ginny had a con in store.

She wanted to hand the seat to her chosen heir, Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent — without any tough GOP competition. (One other lesser-known Republican had filed earlier.)

So she secretly advised Nugent to file for office. He did so. Then, moments after the qualifying deadline expired, Brown-Waite unveiled her scheme — that she was retiring and that it was too late for anyone else to try to take her place.

Take that, democracy.

It was quite a coup for a woman who loves to drape herself in the American flag.

Not only had Brown-Waite managed to deny her constituents a more competitive field, but she also had betrayed leaders of her own party who had made the fatal mistake of trusting Brown-Waite and her word.

She cited health reasons for her decision to retire. But health reasons can't excuse the shenanigans — or the timing in which it all took place.

Argenziano called Brown-Waite's ploy "insidiously designed."

Said Fasano: "I've never seen a Republican go from being so widely supported to so widely disdained so quickly."

But this is what Brown-Waite has become.

A woman who used to demonstrate character and independence became better known for hacky hypocrisy and wacky extremism.

Back when "freedom fries" and France-bashing was all the rage, for example, Brown-Waite suggested digging up the bodies of American soldiers in French cemeteries, shipping the corpses back to the U.S. and reburying them in "patriotic soil."