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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Smith Does a Lap Dance for Agri-Business

You can count on our local intrepid newspaper sniffing out the real story behind the news (I said sarcastically).

The Gainesville Sun today ran a story about state Sen. Rod Smith's gubernatorial campaign coffers, which have swelled to about $400,000. The brief article focused on one angle – that Smith's campaign had returned $4,500 from the owner of Café Risque because Smith "wasn't comfortable" with the source.

What the article failed to mention were the many sources of campaign cash with which Smith is comfortable – namely, the powerful special interests that control state government in the name of greed.

Thanks to the St. Pete Times for doing the heavy lifting. Adam Smith (no, not The Adam Smith), the Times political editor, published a cogent examination of Smith's contributors, which he notes are "raising red flags among environmentalists."

Smith had a large haul from agricultural interests, which these days are bent on shaping growth management policies to ensure that farmers can stop farming and sell their land for development of strip malls and gated communities. In fact, as a political entity it is more often called agri-business these days.

As Mary Barley, president of the Everglades Trust, told the Times: "They don't give money unless they get something in return. I've dealt with sugar for a long time, and they're not giving money for better government."

Although Smith told the paper, "I have a good environmental record," environmental groups who monitor state lawmaking do not agree. In 2004, the Florida League of Conservation Voters said Smith had the second worst environmental voting record of the 40 senators.

As far as I know, there is no group ranking lawmakers on their titty bar voting record, but if there was, you can bet The Sun would have reported on it. That paper never misses a thing (I said sarcastically).


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