Burn, Oliphant, Burn

Listen up, lady; your attackers know whereof they speak

Parrish doesn't make a habit of crusading against other politicians. In fact, she's usually very kind. She's even agreed to co-host an upcoming fundraiser for Pompano Beach Mayor Bill Griffin. Griffin is in the opposing party (he's a Republican), but those superficial labels don't get in Parrish's way. She's no fair-weather friend; Griffin really needs her. The mayor has come under intense public fire -- and an investigation by Satz' office -- for his shady dealings with none other than Parrish's other friend, Swerdlow, on the massive International Swimming Hall of Fame project.

"I didn't know he was under investigation," Parrish told me. "All I know is that the Bill Griffin I know is a very nice man."

It's camaraderie like that -- along with the requisite ignorance of any wrongdoing -- that makes this county great.

State Sen. Campbell, a Democrat from Tamarac, shares those values. He stood up for fellow Sen. Steve Effman back in 2000, when Effman got in a little trouble for molesting clients in his law office. Campbell didn't criticize Effman -- instead, he offered to help straighten out his colleague's problems with the Florida Bar and encouraged him to stay in office. Effman resigned anyway, as details of his law office/sex dungeon torched his reputation beyond repair.

Campbell knows a real pervert when he sees one, though, and he recognizes that Oliphant is guilty of perverting her budget. The senator recently asked Gov. Jeb Bush to force the county to give back a $600,000 state grant that went to the elections office. He reasoned that Oliphant hadn't complied with the budget attached to it, so it all should be paid back.

I know what you're thinking: Isn't this bass-ackwards? Isn't it Campbell's job to secure state money for Broward rather than the other way around? But Campbell demands the highest ethical and moral behavior -- he's a millionaire personal-injury attorney, after all. He told me last week that he wanted to send a message that abhorrent conduct like Oliphant's must be stopped at all costs.

"The worst thing she's done is to lose the public's confidence," he said courageously.

I told him that I agreed and that I was glad such an ethical giant was there to keep everybody in line. Who wouldn't trust Campbell? He's a strong advocate for the big phone companies, for instance, and we all need telephones. Last year, he sponsored a bill that allowed the companies to charge more for basic service. He said the bill would force AT&T and Sprint (both big contributors to his campaigns) and the like to become more competitive, which must be why the telecommunications industry backed it. They just love to compete.

Sure, the legislation will cost consumers millions of dollars, but, like I always say, what's good for BellSouth is good for Florida. Though several consumer groups and former Florida Atty. Gen. Bob Butterworth decried Campbell's bill as a rip-off and a fraud, it's now law. The senator was sending another message, this one showing the little guy who's boss.

Campbell also entertains us, as he did last April, when he went on the cable news circuit to defend another bill he had sponsored. This one forced women who put their babies up for adoption to publish their sexual histories in newspaper ads. It was Campbell's brilliant way of clearing up problems identifying the fathers. He was called all kinds of names for that one, including "the ultimate male chauvinist pig." He told me that he received lots of hate mail and that it was the low point in his political career.

He's admitted it was wrong and is in the process of changing the law. "It made me realize you need to figure out every contingency possible of every bill you support," he said.

Campbell is learning the same lesson in his law practice. Recently retired Broward Circuit Court Judge Estella Moriarty threw out one of his cases in November, calling it a "fraud [there's that word again] on the court," according to the Daily Business Review. Seems that one of Campbell's clients, who was complaining of a back injury, had given conflicting testimony in a similar case in 2001. This wasn't a good thing, but it's not like frivolous civil suits ever tie up the justice system or anything.

Some naysayers might claim Campbell's missteps have weakened the public's confidence in him. But that's a lot of hog swill, and the poor fellow has become overly sensitive from the criticism. "Don't print those bad things about me," he pleaded at the end of our conversation.

What's bad about them, senator? As you have so rightly pointed out, it's Oliphant who is the bad one. You, on the other hand, are one of Broward County's enlightened leaders. Nobody really paid much attention to your mistakes, but Oliphant is in the papers every day, vying for villain-of-the-year honors with Saddam Hussein. We just need to keep the pressure on, wear her down, and destroy her.

This isn't a political lynching; it's just the right thing to do.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help