One of Broward County's leading Republican activists, Ed Napolitano, is resigning from his leadership positions with the party, two weeks after leading a controversial trip with fellow Republicans to a gun range in Hallandale Beach. The Sun-Sentinel broke the story and has a copy of the letter that Napolitano sent to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
In a county where we've become accustomed to shameless acts by political figures, it's shocking when one of those figures demonstrates genuine shame, as is evident from Napolitano's remarks.
Napolitano may have been nudged toward the door by Florida Republicans who out-ranked him, but it seems likely that was more an outgrowth of philosophical clashes his club had been having with the state party. If Chairman Jim Greer and his coterie were truly galled by Napolitano's participation in the gun range gambit, why haven't they demanded so much as an apology out of Robert Lowry? The Republican candidate for Wasserman Schultz's congressional seat who actually fired bullets into a target marked with her initials.
We can make a long list of Broward County officials whose scandals have been a spectacular embarrassment to their offices, yet who cling to power. Stephanie Kraft, for instance, has no business sitting on the Broward County School Board now that we know her and her husband's role in helping a developer get a half-million dollar discount from the district. Stacy Ritter may have weathered an investigation of her own, but her links to the Mutual Benefits fraud totally undercut her credibility as a steward of public dollars. Yet she not only has remained in her position as Broward Mayor, she has the nerve to consider a run for Congress. Joseph Cobo is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, yet he clings to his powerful position as a commissioner at the $1 billion North Broward Hospital District.
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I can go on. In each case, it's a failure of the shame reflex. Even if all of these political figures are completely innocent, they don't feel the shame that comes with having their offices tainted by political scandal.