When you look at government ethics, some see the law while others see the loopholes.
Take, for example, Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs’ recently announced effort to replace the fleeing Allen West as District 22’s congressperson. When my colleague Anthony Man asked whether she’s planning to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists who do business with Broward County, she makes no bones about it. Yes, she said. That’s what you do. It would be political suicide not to.
Now, this isn’t illegal, but it sure has a strong odor. “That’s what you do” is so woven into the fabric of the system that Ms. Jacobs feels no need to explain it, or even to wince at the question.
More significant was Ms. Jacobs’ answer to the question about whether she would resign her current post to run for Congress. Her answer? A firm “No.” When pressed, she said she wanted to preserve her options.
Two thoughts come to mind here: If you’re a county commissioner running for Congress, no lobbyist in his right mind is going to pony up the cash for your campaign unless you remain in office. That’s the only way you still have the juice to make the contribution pay off for the donor. It’s a tacit admission that money does, in fact, buy influence (we all knew that, but pols rarely own up to it publicly).
Second, Ms. Jacobs denied that holding onto her commission seat meant that she had doubts about winning the congressional race. Should she win, Gov. Scott will doubtless appoint a Republican commissioner to replace her.
That’s tantamount to reaching out to her Democratic constituents with one hand⎯asking them for their money and their votes⎯and giving them the finger with the other.
She’ll fit right in on Capitol Hill.