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Florida's Hot Spots for Dark Money

Welcome to the first Brace for Impact on the Allied Media Network. When starting these entries, there could be a concern that political commentary topics, specifically about something as outside the mainstream as dark money, may not produce enough material to fill 104 columns a year.

However, just the news out of Manatee County in the month of February alone would be enough to sustain this work for quite some time. There are at least three distinct dark money efforts happening in Manatee County right now, and around the state others have begun to surface as well, such as in the race for Delray Beach mayor.

The three efforts in Manatee County center around control over the City of Bradenton Police Department, the recent termination of their County Administrator and a state senator who has filed a bill to overturn an ordinance in the City of Key West, roughly 375 miles south of his district.

I have pitched the idea of creating media with the intent to inform, entertain and advocate against dark money at the local level to many friends and family members who usually greet it with the same puzzled look. Supportive to be sure though understandably concerned over who would want to know about such an obscure topic.

My belief is two-fold: to be near-sighted without losing the big picture. By that I mean the initial focus has to be on local instances where this money is involved. I define local as city or county level, thus the state senator whose district exceeds these bounds usually wouldn’t be a topic of conversation, but his bill which is directly related to a municipal ordinance makes it relevant.

The big picture is the existential threat these practices pose to people. Though Washington D.C. gets much of the attention, our liberties are often challenged more within a much more local context. Take the Key West example: the voters of that municipality voted to limit the size of cruise ships allowed to dock within its city limits and now Tallahassee may override those residents without their approval. That is a clear-cut example of freedom lost due to government overreach.

As a conservative, I believe in the peoples’ right to self-govern and want to minimize interference of that right. These views may be polarizing but they are not partisan. The difference between polarization and partisanship is an important one to make. Polarization refers to a trend toward the extremes. Partisanship refers to loyalty to an entity.

I believe that in order to usher in drastic change, which our goal is, fidelity to principles that may be on the extreme of status quo governing practices is necessary. This can be polarizing. Other than fidelity to these principles, however, I believe in blind loyalty to party or person to be misguided. A degree of loyalty is necessary to demonstrate consistency. But extreme loyalty should not be mistaken as devout fidelity.

The goal of the West Central Alliance is to help pass previously proposed legislation that would ban committee-to-committee contributions. The bill has been brough forth by Republican Party of Florida Chairman state senator Joe Gruters, who shares a district line with the Manatee County senator, though has not received much support.

The Allied Media Network is the one step toward raising awareness about the issue. Brace for Impact is a twice weekly published 750 word column that will drive the conversation on the other platforms including a weekly podcast, and twice monthly broadcast. We look forward to enacting real change with your help, and hopefully keeping you educated and entertained in the meantime.


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