Opinion

Opinion

Foolish for Boca Raton Mayor Haynie to leave county race

Posted April 27, 2018 1:08 p.m. EDT

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- I've got some advice for Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie.

VOTE! IT'S A RIGHT & DUTY

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Run, Susan, run!

No, I'm not suggesting you hide in the jungles of Thailand to avoid those felony counts of official misconduct and perjury over $335,000 income you failed to disclose -- a chunk of it from a local developer who did business with the city.

Yes, you're in the soup over that. But don't let this trifling hiccup get in the way of your political aspirations.

This is no time to abandon your campaign for the Palm Beach County Commission.

Run, Susan, run!

I was disappointed to see that you're letting this criminal matter in Boca Raton cause you to postpone the next step in your political career, a step that would put you into a bigger fishbowl of developers to serve.

Withdrawing from the county race is a rash, unnecessary decision.

Where's that old Susan, who just six months ago scoffed at the ethics investigation about your undisclosed ties to developer James Batmasian, and blamed a newspaper for your troubles?

"The Palm Beach Post published an article saying that I had 'secret financial ties' to a Boca developer in an attempt to imply a conflict of interest," you said back in November. "The problem with the story is there are no secret financial ties and no conflict of interest."

Where's that feisty Boca mayor who chalked this all up to a "repulsive form of political attribution" due to your aspirations of taking your talents to the Palm Beach County Commission?

"My personal integrity has come under attack right after I have filed to run for County Commission," you had said. "This is no coincidence and is more of the same political retaliation from my opponent."

So now, just because it turns out that this ethics investigation metastasized into charges of falsifying financial disclosure forms for three years, lying to the county Ethics Commission, and using your public office for personal gain, it's no time to abandon your alternative facts.

After all, blaming the messenger is all the rage these days. Call out The Post for being "fake news."

Then blast the Ethics Commission for having it out for you.

Maybe you can say these ethics commissioners are part of "The Deep County," a cabal of career public servants who are rogue partisans secretly conspiring to upend our cherished ... blah, blah, blah. Just turn on the nightly propaganda feeds from Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs. They'll show you the words to use.

I'll admit, years ago a political future would be in jeopardy after being outed as a public scoundrel facing serious questions of integrity. But that was so 2015. The world's your oyster now, Susan.

And as far as we know, you didn't even launder any flight capital from Russia. That's a plus. So what are you worried about?

Run, Susan, run!

Sure, it's a little unorthodox. Typically, Palm Beach County commissioners of your ilk wait until after they are elected to the commission to become entangled as you have. But I think of you as a kind of pioneer, somebody trying what might be called "a reverse Masilotti" by preloading your unsavory ties.

But don't worry. You wouldn't even be the first Palm Beach County Commission candidate facing felony charges during the campaign.

I fondly remembered covering the campaign of H. Scott McCary, a 57-year-old accountant who ran as the Republican candidate for a Palm Beach County Commission seat in 1986 against former West Palm Beach Mayor Carol Roberts.

McCary was charged with grand theft three months before the election for skipping out on a $604 bill at a Hampton Inn in West Palm Beach. Then a month later, he found himself in the DeSoto County Jail on an aggravated assault charge for allegedly driving his Cadillac on purpose into a man on a three-wheel bicycle in Arcadia.

McCary disputed the charge, but admitted, "I did give him a little bounce with the car."

But wait, that's not all. McCary was also fined for not submitting his campaign reports on time, a fine he attempted to settle by writing a check that bounced. Oh, and the check for his filing fee also bounced.

And then, a week before the election, he got arrested again for walking away from a $27 bar tab at a Clematis Street tavern in West Palm Beach.

McCary called his jailing "good publicity" that was "getting me known to the people."

But it threatened to leave him behind bars on Election Day. So a few days before the election, he got a hearing in a Palm Beach County courtroom to ask that he be temporarily released from jail to do some last-minute campaigning.

"I assure you that if I'm released on my own recognizance, I will not leave this county because I'm running for political office," he told the judge.

The motion was denied. McCary had to wrap us his campaign on the pay phone at the Palm Beach County Jail.

So how did McCary do? He carried the base. After all his troubles, he still got nearly 30 percent of the vote.

Are you listening, Mayor Haynie? Nearly 30 percent.

Imagine if McCary knew he could blame his behavior on everyone else being unfair to him. And back then he didn't have a fully conditioned Republican electorate that was constantly primed to swallow all the fake-news, Deep-County talking points that work today.

And not only that. But you're free on bond, Susan. You won't have to campaign like McCary from the jailhouse pay phone. So this is no time to give up.

Run, Susan, run!

Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: fcerabino(at)pbpost.com.

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