Media Trackers Catches Democratic Politicians Living Outside of Their Districts

Florida State Sen. Maria Sachs is back in the headlines again, dogged by questions about where she really resides and what that means for her eligibility to represent District 34. She isn't the first South Florida Dem to run afoul of residency issues lately, almost as if some foul curse had fallen on the party.

Dania Beach City Commissioner Patricia Flury resigned last month after questions about her residency arose last summer. The legitimacy of State Reps. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale), Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderdale Lakes), Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs), and Joseph Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach) has come under question.

It's not witchcraft at work, however, not unless you number right-wing activism among the black arts. A large share of the initial groundwork and publicizing of the footloose Dems' wandering ways has been done by an outfit called Media Trackers, and the fast-moving, fast-growing investigative website has chalked up quite a few legitimate hits.

Media Trackers is the creation of conservative activist and longtime Republican National Committeeman Drew Ryun, the son of former track star Jim Ryun. It was spawned, according to reporting by Mother Jones, in the Wisconsin recall battles of 2011, when Dems tried (and failed) to take down GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who had set new standards in union-bashing in America's heartland.

Building on its success there, Media Trackers went nationwide, with arms now in six states, including Florida, as well as in Washington, D.C. Originally sponsored by American Majority, a nonprofit political training group run by Drew's twin brother, Ned, the group has been spun off and now functions under the wing of the oddly named (for a right-wing org) Greenhouse Solutions.

(Drew Ryun told National Review that Media Trackers took shelter there since Greenhouse Solutions had nonprofit status in place, so he could avoid IRS scrutiny -- or what GOP scandal fabricators allege to be oppression.)

Mother Jones claims (and Politifact and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel agree) that Media Trackers has a history of "mangling the truth." But here in South Florida -- so far, anyway -- Ryun's machine has not been proved wrong. Republicans may be evil, but they're not stupid (not all of them), and they're damned well-funded. Democrats need to be on their toes.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

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