Orlando Sentinel turns on Florida GOP

Mike Riggs Contributor

Not only is Charlie Crist calling for an investigation of his own party, now the historically conservative editorial page of the Orlando Sentinel is slamming Marco Rubio et al. for gross negligence:

The party of fiscal responsibility? For the Florida GOP, how about Party Central?

That’s an apt description for the state Republican Party under former Chairman Jim Greer. Under his guidance, the party racked up more than $1 million in credit card charges that encompassed chartered flights, $1,000-plus dinners and even flowers for the wives of some the party’s biggest stars, all ostensibly to help raise money and further the party’s interests.

[T]he real outrage belongs to Republicans of good faith, those who answer the call and contribute hard-earned money to help candidates who share core principles. Like, say, fiscal conservatism, a principle that we’ve often embraced on these pages.

Till now, there’s been plenty for them to be upset about concerning the way Republicans in Tallahassee have turned their backs on those principles while governing. With majorities in both the Senate and House and a Republican governor, Republicans long ago could have made the party’s “fiscal responsibility” slogan their governing mantra, and acted on it.

Instead, they’ve raided trust funds set aside for children’s health programs and road construction. They’ve handed out benefits to state employees that their counterparts in the private sector can only dream about, then worked to preserve them even as the state budget went bust.

They’ve balked at consolidating government bureaucracies. And they’ve relied on windfalls, like an expansion of gambling operations.

Now, on top of all that, comes the scandal enveloping the party itself. Reports of Mr. Cannon’s spending late last week took some of the spotlight from Mr. Greer. Over two years, Mr. Cannon put $175,000 on his party-issued credit card. He says the expenses constituted “party business.”

Party business? In one week in Tallahassee, he put four meals on the card that ran from $300 to $600. But the meals couldn’t have involved raising funds that week, because legislators by law can’t solicit contributions during session.