Note: Former Ledger and Tribune reporter Billy Townsend has joined the ranks of citizen journalist.
I came across an odd campaign mailer today. It’s a glossy, professionally-produced piece. On the front it reads, “JD ALEXANDER STEPPED UP AND JOINED THE FIGHT.” Flip it over, and it continues: “When Bartow residents needed help in their fight to keep “stinky garbage” out of their neighborhoods…”
There’s a Ledger pullout quote from June 10 quoting JD as saying “…we don’t need stinky stuff a mile and a half a from the downtown of our county seat.” Imagine that, the champion of turning 60 into the mother of all truck stops is a NIMBY.
I assumed at first that it was a JD campaign mailer. He’s advertising more than Barack Obama on local television these days. (Every time I procrastinate at the gym, I look up, and there he is on the wall of televisions, saying something in closed captioning about “helping.” Nothing about all his work for Atlantic Blue or Highlands Cassidy or Phoenix or the Heartland distribution node on 60, but whatever, it’s a campaign, and I digress.) But the mailer’s not from his campaign, as a quick second look can tell. The man in the family picture on the front isn’t JD at all. He looks a lot more like Anderson Cooper actually.
No, this mailer is, in fact, an “electioneering communication” paid for by “Floridians for Conservative Values,” one of those shadowy third-party shell groups designed to funnel money to campaigns without funneling money to campaigns. This one should really be called “Floridians for Sugary Values.” U.S. Sugar has contributed $135,000 of the shell’s $271,000 raised since 2006. Florida Crystals Corporation kicked in $80,000.
All of this leaves me with a thought: It’s awfully decent of U.S. Sugar to have such regard for Bartow, particularly at a time when the company has been negotiating its own billion dollar demise.
Now, the cynics among you might question the company’s sincerity. What’s that you say, maybe Big Sugar just likes having a big corporate ally working in Tally? Maybe all JD’s TV advertising and Tallahassee fundraising and third-party mailers (four months before election day) show a case of the nerves brought on by the late-breaking candidacy of Scott Thompson of Winter Haven. Maybe they’ve heard the same rumors I’ve heard of bad polling.
It would be a shame to think Floridians for Ulterior Motives, errr Conservative Values, isn’t altruistic. So say it ain’t so those of you in JD’s orbit. Come on Jack, Sam, Seth, Twyla, or anybody else, drop me an email at email@example.com, and tell me JD ain’t scared.