Page 2 of 3
On July 2 FDLE concluded its investigation and found that the three justices’ use of state employees for purposes of notarizing campaign documents did not rise to the level of “abuse of either (their) position or public resources.” The FDLE also pointed out that fellow sitting Justices Jorge Labarga, James Perry and Ricky Polston, as well as Chief Justice Charles Canady, all utilized state employees to notarize their 2010 campaign documents. Upon receiving the FDLE Report, veteran Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs characterized the justices’ actions as a “trifle” and formally closed the investigation.
Nevertheless, Southeastern Legal has chosen to continue its quixotic legal battle, issuing a flurry of subpoenas on July 9 that appear calculated to ensnare nearly everyone at the Florida Supreme Court but the maintenance man. To date, 22 folks have received notice that they will be deposed by the Georgia-based foundation. Not surprisingly, Southeastern has chosen to ignore FDLE’s finding that conservative Chief Justice Charles Canady, along with other sitting justices, committed the identical “crime.” Don’t hold your breath for the foundation to amend its complaint to push for Canady’s removal from the bench.
Governor Scott also appears to have little faith in the capabilities of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a legitimate investigation. Upon learning of FDLE’s findings, Scott refused to put the matter to bed, instead releasing a statement that he was now awaiting the results of Southeastern’s case.
Running on empty
Asking a Florida judge to “run” a re-election campaign is similar to asking a one-legged man to join a rear-kicking contest. Florida judges are prohibited from personally asking for campaign dollars; instead they must rely on others to do so.
Additionally, Florida law also prevents judges from providing their personal opinions on how they would rule on a particular set of facts. For that reason, most Florida voters would be hard pressed to name a single justice of the seven who sit on the Florida Supreme Court.
This translates into very low voter participation for retention votes. In the last major Florida election, the 2010 gubernatorial race in which Rick Scott edged then-CFO Alex Sink by 61,550 votes out of a total of 5,359,735 votes cast for governor, 869,693 fewer votes were cast in the retention vote for the most well-known Florida judge — former U.S. Congressman and current Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Canady.
These traditionally low vote totals by the general electorate, coupled with the organized effort to oust Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince, has their supporters scrambling. The lesson learned from Iowa was clear: Attempting to take the high road and not fighting back, as the three Iowa justices chose to do, will result in your certain defeat.
This lesson has not been lost on Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince. Since the beginning of the year their surrogates have collectively raised a whopping $922,639.02. To date that amount dwarfs amounts raised for any other state-level campaign being run in Florida.
Money or not, don’t expect to learn anything definitive about the political leanings of Justices Lewis, Pariente, or Quince in their coming campaigns. Each justice will remain prohibited from presenting his or her positions on hot-button issues. Instead, voters should prepare for a raft of general biographical television and radio spots featuring each justice and their extended family. In other words, expect to know all their grandchildren by first name on Election Day.
Unlike a traditional presidential or gubernatorial race, where the lines are clearly drawn along party affiliation, the battle to retain the three targeted Florida justices has created some very strange bedfellows, including Barry Richard, the lead lawyer for George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore, as well as former members of the Florida Supreme Court, a number of whom were appointed by Republicans.
Somewhat surprisingly, the most outspoken among Florida’s high court alumni has been one of its more historically conservative jurists, former Justice Raoul Cantero. The first Hispanic to sit on the Court, Cantero was appointed in 2002 by the patron saint of Florida Republican politics, Jeb Bush. During his six years on the court Cantero was known as a reliable conservative vote.
Despite his track record, Cantero voiced his open opposition to the effort to oust Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince in a March 22, 2012 email to the 93,000 members of the Florida Bar — making the case that the retention process should only be used to remove judges and justices for what he termed “malfeasance” in office.
Peter's new book is awaited with joy by lovers of poetry and his cool take…
Eeeeeeehhhh aaaahhhh, this is Sam Carollo, I am a legitimate business man, I resent the…
It is wonderful to see the KaBOOM! playground as a part of this transformation. I…
I can show u where animals r barried that he did not report.