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.
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."
She has bones to pick with France
Another time, she insisted it was OK to call Puerto Ricans "foreign citizens" — even though they are U.S. citizens.
Brown-Waite: Puerto Ricans 'foreign,' shouldn't get rebate
She also demonstrated hypocrisy on a grand scale.
She decried wasteful spending — while personally racking up bigger bills for her own taxpayer-funded mailers than most of her peers.
She threw tantrums about debt-spending under President Barack Obama — after voting to raise the debt ceiling under President George W. Bush.
And she condemned "government-run health care" — while simultaneously demanding the Obama pour more and more money into Medicare — since that was the part of government-run health care that older voters in her district wanted.
Brown-Waite's had her moments. In fact, I have praised her at times. She cast courageous votes in favor of drug importation and stem-cell research and against congressional pay raises and political meddling in end-of-life decisions for dying family members.
But those brave and rational decisions now seem a distant memory.
Instead, we are left with career a highlighted by extremism and capped with a political ploy that was a slap in the face not only to many of those who supported her — but to those she swore an oath to represent as well.
I've gotten questions from readers about several new candidates — including Rick Scott, the GOP newcomer in the governor's race, and Scott Fortune, the Democratic lawyer who is challenging U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown.
The short version: Scott's business record has raised many questions … and attracted many investigators. And Fortune has an uphill battle.
You can get the longer versions at orlandosentinel.com/takingnames.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.
Ginny Brown-Waite leaves sorry legacy
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