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Florida Democratic Party Apparently Puts Its Own Interests Over Voters'

November 24, 2013 - 6:00pm

In a Nov. 18 article, Vetting Process is Clearly Nonexistent in Floridas Democratic Party,I discussed multiple questions that arose from my own and others personal accounts of meetings with Democratic primary candidate William Rankin who is running for state of Florida CFO.

Specifically, I questioned: Why is this candidate, who knows nothing about the job of the office of the state CFO, the only viable runner for the Democratic Party, and has he been thoroughly vetted?

The backlash for questioning the process of vetting their candidate has been rather extreme, and somewhat disconcerting. I imagine that the processes are the same for both major parties, equally as inept at screening individuals and as quick to place incompetents in office for the sake of the party name.

Needless to say, Ive walked away from this week even more disillusioned and turned-off by a major political party that in one breath touts the protection of civil rights, and in another refuses to provide a voter (who has always voted for both major parties candidates based on qualifications) with answers that would help me support or decline support of their candidate. This is just frustrating but Im not ready to give up quite yet.

Though its unclear if its even up to the party leaders to vet the candidates they endorse as Democrats, its been made crystal clear that the state-level Florida Democratic Party leaders feel that the vetting of the background of their new Great White Hope is none of my business. Nor do they feel that their own local committee and club members for that matter, who have raised questions as well, have the right to ask about their own candidates background. I laughed when I heard the phrase smear campaign.

Since my initial article, few questions about Rankins alleged experience have been answered, and more material facts have arisen that have induced even more reason for inquiry. Its been confirmed that Rankin was just a staff sergeant in the Army (I still love his line about his DD-214 being classified, by the way), and he was certainly not in a position to create policy as he touted at a Veterans Day caucus leadership meeting at which I was present. For confirmation of embellished military experience, please check this box.

Its also been brought to light in the past 48 hours how Rankin is very possibly involved in the misappropriation of his campaign funds, which is now under a budding investigation. Sigh.

Determining if a candidate for the Democratic Party has been vetted, or that his past experiences have even been confirmed, is similar to playing that game of Telephone we used to play in kindergarten.

Ive been told on the record that the Florida Democratic Party does not vet candidates by the Florida Democratic Partys Communications Director Joshua Karp, and yet Ive been told off the record that Rankin was in fact vetted thoroughly by the Florida Democratic Party in Tallahassee through the hazy and twisted grapevine of zone and county leaders throwing around the names of Chairwoman Allison Tant, Executive Director Scott Arceneaux, Chair Alan Clandenin, and John Ramos.

By the time the answer to my initial call in the game makes it back to me, it sounds more like, Dont eat the yellow snow.

So which is it? Alas, still no real answers.

The reality is that, in their bylaws, the primary purpose of the Democratic committees and clubs is to seek out Democratic candidates to run for public office and provide them with assistance and financial support when available and to elect Democrats. Theres no process for vetting or any type of assurance that the best interests of the public voters are held as a standard listed anywhere in their governing documents. Its just elect Dems, elect Dems, elect Dems. Its the Party over the People.

Thats almost as haphazard as Rankin telling caucus leaders to write anything you want about me. Ugh.

On the heels of recent embarrassments such as Republican Rep. Trey Radels cocaine possession, the allegations of funds fraud on Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson, and the bankrupt former Democratic flop-candidate for state CFO Allie Braswell, both the Democratic and Republican parties seem to need a better vetting policy to avoid any more egg on their faces.

The fallout from the lack of such a policy is certainly keeping them busy right now. Yet, in the case of William Rankin, not one person in local leadership is willing to stand up and demand a higher standard or change in Legislature for candidate selection, nor any other preventative measures that would ensure that the qualifications of the candidates endorsed by the Florida Democratic Party have been verified. Its a sham process, and they will endorse and lend support to anyone thats a Democrat, as long as theyre Democrat-ish.

In the face of an election that involves Rankin potentially getting selected for a job that would place him in charge of billions of dollars of funds, directing insurance policy, or providing oversight of over 2,000 staff members, its almost preposterous that the Florida Democratic Party leaders endorse candidates like him. I know. I get it. Hes simply all theyve got.

I cant really blame Rankin, as hes bloated his military experiences, omitted his dubious business dealings, and told tall tales of his previous positions of responsibility to the voting public. The Florida Democratic Party is giving him full latitude to embellish, fundraise, and pocket those monies with their (relatively silent) support.

When I think about it its quite the racket. Not one so-called leader of the Florida Democratic Party, in the wake of this years disappointments, has provided clear answers about their process, or this candidates background, to their own local committee and club members.

Not one so-called leader of the Florida Democratic Party has stepped up to the plate to take responsibility for misleading the public by personally not supporting, while publicly endorsing as a party, a completely unqualified man named William D. Rankin.

If they cant even be honest with each other, how can we expect them to be honest with the voters?

Brooke Knight is a single mom and a U.S. Navy veteran honorably discharged after receiving an award for meritorious service. She is a South Florida freelance writer and investigator and describes herself -- among other things -- as a former professional musician, recruiter and headhunter in finance and tech and "Ops Ninja" for a social media firm. View all her imaconstitutionalist posts.

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