By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
There are so many corrupt local politicians that investigators can pick and choose whom to investigate. This year, they chose Stephanie Kraft. The bigger culture of corruption, this notion that elected officials — the very people charged with the public's trust — would trade so much of the public's money for a few bucks of their own leads to the general cynicism eating away at our society.
Dirt Meter: 6 (Sure, Stephanie Kraft is gross — but she's just one in a long string of corrupt local officials.)
There are plenty of people who'd put David Samson — the neurotic, paranoid, smooth-talking president of the beleaguered Florida Marlins — in the same evil category as massive Ponzi schemers Bernie Madoff and Scott Rothstein. And though the team trails both the Dolphins and Heat in popularity and has seemingly made it a policy to trade away its best and best-liked players after every season, much of the recent hate stems from the new stadium deal.
When it came time to talk about a new ballpark for the team, Samson told local politicians that his poor franchise was struggling to break even financially. He dangled the idea of moving the Marlins out of Florida if the team didn't receive gigantic sums of taxpayer money. He essentially held the region hostage for a ransom some estimate to be in the billions. Samson managed to swing a deal in which his team will pay less than a third of the total bill for a new stadium but maintain every possible stream of revenue.
But Samson's deceit was made clear when Deadspin.com released leaked financial statements that show the Marlins take in a healthy chunk of league-distributed money that could go toward the ballpark. The documents indicated that the team concealed nearly $50 million over two years and could have paid for a significantly larger portion — if not all — of the new stadium. After they came out, Samson called the leaking of the documents "a crime," but the true crime might be the fact that despite the new revelation, the original deal is nonnegotiable.
Dirt Meter: 7 (The Marlins aren't the first to pull this scam on the public, but that doesn't make it all right.)
Joyce Kaufman isn't all bad. This tough-talking, camouflage-rocking, heat-packing talk-show host is a regular churchgoer. She also helps out in a prison outreach program. She's clever, with a biting sense of humor that keeps her loyal listeners laughing as much as fuming. She isn't on this list for her regular habit of dispensing incendiary rhetoric that borders on hate speech. (In July, she famously told a crowd of Tea Partiers that "if ballots don't work, bullets will" and has in the past suggested that illegal immigrants should be publicly hanged) or the fact that she is openly hostile toward liberals, poor people, Muslims, Spanish speakers, and anyone who suggests the environment should be a priority.
No, the shrewd Kaufman is here because she used her show as a 15-hour-a-week campaign commercial for former Lt. Col. Allen West, an anti-Islam buddy of Sarah Palin's who left the military after he was accused of torturing a civilian Iraqi police officer in 2003. Then, once West was elected to the U.S. Congress with promises of smaller government, Kaufman immediately accepted a job as his taxpayer-funded chief of staff. She even promised to continue her show, broadcasting from her new office in the nation's capital.
But alas, the Joyce Goes to Washington show was not meant to be. Within 24 hours, Kaufman changed her mind and officially declined the chief of staff position. She said it was because of all the publicity surrounding her appointment, but there's a better chance it had more to do with West's camp not wanting to kick off his first term with a blatant ethics violation.
Dirt Meter: 4 (She's probably a little proud to be on this list.)
This billionaire turned senatorial candidate has had an interesting few years. While the rest of the country sank into the deepest economic slump since the Depression, Jeff Greene went from rich to richer by trading in credit default swaps, one of the activities that caused the economy to slide so far so fast since 2008.
Then he used his vast wealth to run for office. He barely appeared in public or spoke to the media, and when he did, he rarely said anything of substance. (He promised he'd donate his salary to the taxpayers.) With his mother as his chief spokesperson, he was little more than a mysterious gazillionaire with an awkward side-mouthed grin. In America, that gave him a chance at winning.
His prospects were shot, however, once the public heard about his great seaward adventures. First, his luxury yacht Summerwind — on which he's hosted everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Mike Tyson — damaged a coral reef off the coast of Belize. Then former crew members began coming forward, describing the sinful goings-on aboard what seemed to be some sort of floating den of iniquity. There were claims of cocaine and strippers and boxers getting blowjobs, and, worst of all, serious mistreatment of the crew. Several former employees claim Greene berated them mercilessly (often while inebriated) and eventually stiffed them on paychecks. Just the kind of behavior we want from a politician.