In the years long GOP effort to find a way to thwart Florida voter's will to gerrymander the heck out of the state and keep all power within the GOP, another chapter in the saga ended in a meltdown this week.
It happened during yet another taxpayer funded special session of the legislature, and was the result of GOP infighting, much like the previous infighting to keep some of the poorest Floridians from getting health care in the LAST taxpayer funded special session. So while national attention was focused on the GOP presidential candidate clown car, people were watching the Florida version where the clowns have lost the ability to drive, period.
It's a long story I won't dissect in detail here, but the short version goes something like this. Voters years ago demanded and voted for fair districts, Republicans tried to undo said fair district Amendments by writing their own, were slapped down, then found new ways through adventures in secret map drawing, got caught, and at various times, both denied and admitted doing so, sometimes under oath. The Florida Supreme Court finally intervened, and suddenly the rule of law meant little to rule of law loving Republicans who threatened to ignore the court ruling, and/or subpoena everyone on the court because HOW DARE THEY! When all was said and done, after much dramatic finger pointing between the House GOP and the Senate GOP, tantrums were had by all, and everyone threw up their hands, went home, and left the map drawing to the Supreme Court after all. (Democrats did stand up and call for an independent commission to draw the maps, and while I applaud this, I have my doubts over an independent anything, because after all, this is Florida. Let's hope this time it will be different.)
In other words, more taxpayer dollars wasted and with absolutely nothing to show for it. How much of your money was wasted? Well, who's even counting anymore? The GOP and Rick Scott have turned the state into their own personal piggy bank which now absurdly finances mostly efforts to hurt those same taxpayers. It's kind of a "screw you and your freedom too" double dip by people who ran on promising freedom and financial conservatism. Look no further than last week, when Floridians found out Scott was forcing them to pay his legal fees after he was caught keeping them in the dark by ignoring public records laws. Conveniently, he was vacationing in France when this news hit. When he returned, he defended himself in truly absurd fashion.
The Scott administration said it is legitimate to have taxpayers pay to settle the lawsuits because they arose out of the governor's "public duties."
Never mind that those "public duties" were hidden from the public, and thus not public at all, which was the entire point in the first place. Why, it's almost as absurd as saying you have no conflict of interest when you're a governor with a blind trust whose wealth magically grows larger with each year you're in office.
These are the very things checks and balances in government protects against, unless of course there are none because one party has had complete control over the state for years, thanks in part to things like the creative artistry of turning maps into pretzel-like voting districts alluded to above.
If that's not enough, when Scott got the taxpayer funds for his mounting legal bills, he neglected to mention to the legislature that's what the funds were for.
But documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the Scott administration paid $120,000 of the settlement out of an account used for office expenses and operations. They got legislative approval for the account weeks before the settlement was finalized, and the paperwork used on a budget amendment submitted to the Legislature does not mention the settlement.
The Republican Senate budget chief said the governor's office should have been clear about what they planned to do with the money. Yay, checks and balances, finally!
Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate budget chief, said he did not have a problem with using taxpayer money for the settlement.
Rule of law! Yawn...
Of course, if anybody's wondering if these shenanigans are something, say an Attorney General might be looking into, don't look at Pam Bondi. Some of those hiding not so public duties from the public legal fees were CYA for her as well. She too allowed taxpayers to pay for her privilege of being able to "legally" say not guilty!
And it gets worse. Turns out Pam Bondi is quite the little cherry picker when it comes to what legal fees should get paid, and which should not. If you happen to be gay, and she fights to take your rights away and loses, she thinks lawyers who defeated her do not so much have to be reimbursed for their trouble. Needless to say, this isn't sitting well with a lot of people who don't think laws are made to be broken purely for political purposes, so we'll wait to see what happens next. Given Bondi's well documented losing streak, I'm guessing we'll be adding them to the tab soon.
In sum, it was quite an expensive week for Floridians who are constantly told "we can't afford" things like no strings attached federal funds for things that would improve their lives, by the very same Republicans who think noting of running up a tab paid for by taxpayers, and at their own expense, and who think that's just the price of running the state like a business.