At the end of every week, we praise a political playmaker, “swipe left” on the week’s biggest political loser, and explain what it all means for Florida’s political arena.
CHAMP: U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz
Appearing at the the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz made a major announcement when he told attendees that he will no longer accept federal contributions from political action committees (PACs).
The Pensacola rock star and fervent Donald Trump supporter made the announcement at the annual political conference that featured like-minded conservatives from around the United States.
“Sometimes feels like it doesn’t even matter which party political party wins the election because in Congress the winner is too often the special interest that shuttles around the most campaign donations,” Gaetz told the crowd.
“Big business, you know, they love the PAC process because PACs allow big business to put their interests over Americans,” he continued, condemning the political power structure on Capitol Hill that rewards lawmakers that have the largest campaign coffers.
Gaetz, who represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District, went on to shock the political arena, announcing that he would never again take “one red cent” from PACs.
“I’ve never turned tricks for Washington PACs, but as of today, I’m done picking up their money in the nightstand,” said Gaetz, comparing the incentive-driven public service scheme to prostitution.
“I will never again accept a donation from a federal political action committee. The American people are my one and only special interest,” he proclaimed to an applause.
I’ve never turned tricks for Washington PACS, but, as of today, I’m done picking up their money in the nightstand.
I will never again accept a donation from a federal political action committee.
Not one red cent.
The American People are my only special interest. pic.twitter.com/PRMpYHKaqF
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 27, 2020
In the 2018 election cycle, Gaetz raised $339,000 from political action committees, including but not limited to the communication industry, aerospace companies, agriculture groups and transportation companies.
While on paper the loss of major PAC money would be detrimental to most politicians, Gaetz’s aura and rising political stock will shield him from any damage to his war chest. Representing a solid-red district that is unlikely to vote Democrat is a plus for the Trump ally — evident by his individual donations. Gaetz raised more than $1 million in his last two campaign cycles from individual donors – regular American citizens – who contribute smaller amounts, but far outnumber the contributions from PAC’s.
Gaetz’s decision, if anything, will further boost his political appeal, and may set him up for a major run in 2024.
CHUMP: State Senator Tom Lee
The often-controversial state senator made headlines this week when he questioned a conservative bill that would spell out the rights of parents when it comes to how their children are educated.
The measure (SB 1634), known as the “parental rights” bill, would protect parents from government usurpation of access to and oversight of their children. The bi-partisan proposal would prevent the government from interfering with religious child rearing, and would promote parent involvement in the public school system.
The divisive issue would also require schools to disclose important information to parents about their child if they ask.
The bill was introduced by Senator Kelli Stargel, who also sponsored a parental consent bill (SB 404) that will require abortion providers to obtain parental consent prior to performing an abortion on a minor child. That bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, while her most recent bill now sits in political purgatory.
Stargel says that bill is a no-brainer that doesn’t increase or limit parental rights, but requires school rights to spell out what is now state law. Opponents, however, believe that the bill overreaches to the point where it could pose problems for students unsure about their sexuality or who have parents that are abusive.
Republican Senator Tom Lee, however, questioned the bill’s necessity during Wednesday’s hearing, finding himself in a standoff with Stargel over the content of the legislation.
“So this in unnecessary?” Lee asked Stargel about the bill during Wednesday’s hearing.
Stargel pushed back, citing that parents and their rights are being infringed upon by the state.
“It is necessary that parents are not aware of these rights or they’re being infringed upon,” Stargel fired back.”We’re clarifying that it’s the parents’ right to govern their minor child and not that state’s.”
Lee, who represents Hillsborough County, is no stranger to controversy when it comes to voting for commonsense. In October of 2019, the embattled senator famously voted against a motion to remove disgraced Scott Israel as Broward County Sheriff.