Over the past six days, no fewer than nine mail pieces have arrived in mailboxes across House District 73, either attacking Joe Gruters, or supporting his opponent, Steve Vernon. The mailers accuse Gruters of everything from being a Republican “party boss,” to being a bad accountant, to climbing the ladder of political ambitions.
”It’s incredibly disappointing to have some outside group with nobody taking credit spending $100,000 trying to take me out in the last week,” Gruters said. “We’ve seen nine mailers in the last six days, all trying to sideswipe me.”
No one may be taking credit, but there are huge tranches of cash flowing from specific political committees, that, when the flow is reversed, paint an intriguing picture. But Joe Gruters isn’t pointing fingers. While he doesn’t believe the money is related to the ongoing Speaker’s race, Gruters won’t speculate further except to suggest a possible motive.
“It could be because of my role at RPOF, or as co-chairman of the Trump campaign,” he says. “I didn’t play nice early on with establishment.”
Some of the nastiest mail pieces are coming from Committee to Protect Florida, but a second group, calling itself Stop Benefits to Illegals Now, is also getting in on the act, taking in $40,000 in contributions, including a $25,000 chunk from Leadership for Florida’s Future. That group, in turn, collected $100,000 from Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy on August 12th.
Where did that money come from? Only one day earlier, Citizen’s Alliance took in $100,000 from the Florida Justice political committee, which is the political action arm of Florida’s trial lawyers. While it looks suspicious, there is no direct proof that trial lawyers themselves are behind the attacks.
“I wish I knew who it was so I can kick them in the shins to personally say thanks,” Gruters says. “I’ve been endorsed by every paper, and by all the mainstream political circles. I’m still going to win this.”
If this money is in fact flowing from Florida’s trial lawyers, it begs the question to who’s benefit are they trying to eliminate Joe Gruters? From the trial lawyers’ point of view, can there be that much difference between two candidates both vying for the conservative mantle?
Perhaps this isn’t about policy, and more about the politics and power structure in 2022. The real question is, are there power brokers close to the trial bar who might be trying to influence that race?