In today's edition of the Friday Files, we have political wisdom from the mouths of babes, news about an ethics complaint and some free advice for a few candidates … which is worth precisely what the candidates paid for it.
Scott undermines himself
Until now, Rick Scott was running a pretty savvy campaign.
But then he came to Orlando this week for a rally alongside all the "Tallahassee insiders" he had been railing against for the past three months. He also met with lobbyists and talked about taking their money — after repeatedly bragging about the fact that he had not.
It's almost like Scott quickly forgot what made him so appealing to some voters in the first place — his status as an independent outsider.
You can't very well rail against — and cuddle with — the status quo at the same time.
Some candidates fear their opponents will cut them off at the knees. Scott seems to be taking the machete to himself.
Grayson needs a chill pill
Restraint has never been Alan Grayson's forte. But Orlando's Democratic U.S. representative should consider reining in his extra-harsh attacks against GOP opponent Dan Webster.
Grayson wasted no time calling Webster "corrupt" and " Taliban Dan."
Grayson has plenty of legitimate ammo. Webster is the consummate Tallahassee insider. He gave a stamp of approval to the expressway authority's money-wasting, toll-raising ways when he was supposed to fix them. And Webster is about as far to the right as Grayson is to the left. (Sorry, moderates who are craving a centrist. You lose … again.)
Grayson would even be well within his rights to point out the basis for the Taliban nickname — that Webster once sponsored a bill pushing for "covenant marriage," which would make it harder for couples to divorce.
But comparing Webster to a radical group responsible for murdering thousands of innocent people is too much.
In fact, one can only imagine Grayson's indignant reaction if someone were to note his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, argue that it would allow evil forces to spread … and then called him Al-Qaeda Alan.
Last month, this column noted several oddities in the financial disclosure of aspiring state House speaker Chris Dorworth. Among them: A listed income of less than $32,000 and annual debt obligations of more than $100,000. Also, Dorworth said his house, which is facing foreclosure, was worth $2 million even though county records suggest it is worth less than half of that.
Many readers were troubled by that report — and the fact that state ethics officials said they wouldn't look into the matter unless someone filed a formal complaint.
Well, now, someone has. Winter Springs resident and graduate student Frank Bracco filed a five-point complaint, asking the commission to investigate the discrepancies.
Asked why, Bracco said: "I've lived in Central Florida for a long time. And you read about these things over and over again. And I finally decided: I am a constituent, if I don't take action, who will?"
For Dorworth's part, he noted that Bracco was a supporter of his Democratic opponent, Steve Barnes. (State records show Bracco donated $20 to Barnes' campaign.) Wrote Dorworth in an e-mail: "This is a BS complaint filed by a desperate campaign. Most people see this for what it is — a politically motivated accusation …"
How nasty are they?
Want more proof that negative campaigning is out of control?
Well, consider this: On Thursday, I got a press release from an environmental group touting an ad campaign they were running against congressional candidate Craig Miller.
One little problem: Miller's not a candidate anymore. He lost in the primary.
When I mentioned as much to the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, they acknowledged they must have missed that detail.
Man, you know negative campaigning has gone too far when groups aren't even checking to see whether the candidates they're bashing are actually still candidates.
A final thought
I'm a particularly proud dad this week.
Last week, my little girl came home from school, super-excited about elections for class president.
The next day, she was sad, because she hadn't even been nominated.
Yet on Tuesday, she left for school with a whole stack of "Vote for Kaitlyn" stickers she spent making the night before for a friend who was nominated instead.
Somewhere between elementary school and adult politics, things go really, really awry.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun