Saturday’s edition of the Developer’s newspaper contains a full-page color ad in which Sheriff Farmer endorses the Developer’s puppet Sumter County Commissioners (Butler, Burgess, and Printz). These are the guys who approve the Sheriff’s budget, so the endorsement is not a surprise, although it is a shame to see the Sheriff demean himself and his office by backing those guys. What is more interesting about the ad, which, obviously cost a bundle of money (I understand around $2,500), is the fact that it was paid for by an outfit called Good Government for Florida, Inc., located in Tallahassee.
It’s nice that somebody in Tallahassee cares about us here in Sumter County, but who is Good Government for Florida and where do they get their money? A check of state records reflects that it is a political action committee, run by a guy named William S. Jones. So, who is William S. Jones?
Back to Google. It turns out William Stafford Jones is a shadowy political operative based in Tallahassee, who has nothing to do with Sumter County. He has had a number of ethics complaints filed against him according to the Lakeland Ledger. https://www.theledger.com/article/LK/20140912/news/608093418/LL Based on a Google search, he has established numerous PACs and his PACs will apparently back any cause or candidate that ponies up money. The internet has a number of stories about his questionable activities. Here are a couple of examples: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/readers/2018/08/27/letter-shady-tallahassee-pacs-stick-noses-into-treasure-coast-local-e/1072515002/ and https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20191014/demonstrators-speak-out-against-dark-money-in-venice-elections
So, who ponied up the money for Mr. Jones’s expensive ad in the Developer’s newspaper? The answer is found at myflorida.com:
2020 P1A 06/19/2020 33,000.00 HOLDING COMPANY OF THE VILLAGE 1020 LAKE SUMTER LANDING, THE VILLAGES, FL 32162 HOLDING COMPANY CH
What a shock! $33,000 comes from the Developer—not only circumventing the $1,000 legal contribution limit, but going right back into the Developer’s pocket via an ad in his own newspaper. Neat trick by the Developer. Bad news for us.
It’s hard to ascertain where all the $33,000 has gone or will go. Good Government for Florida is involved in activities besides the puppets’ campaign, and you can’t tell what some of the recipients of expenditures are doing for their money or for whom they are doing it. But through July 31 (the latest available date), almost $15,000 was round tripped to the Developer’s newspaper.
By now more than $15,000 of the $33,000 has been spent and more will be spent. For example, I have received a baloney-filled mailer touting all three puppets, paid for by Good Government for Florida. To print and send those mailers out to all Republican voters is not cheap. On the other hand, I don’t know if the Developer has ponied up even more money to Good Government for Florida this month–as the Developer sees his puppets’ chances of winning going down the drain. In any event, remember that the $33,000 is on top of the roughly $200,000 that the Developer, his various companies, his suppliers, and associates gave directly to the puppets’ campaigns.
If we are stupid enough to continue to put up with this type of corruption, we get the local government we deserve. I hope that voters are outraged by what is going on at the Sumter County Commission and in this primary election:
• The puppets giving the Developer hundreds of millions of our tax dollars with a combination of high taxes for us and a low impact fee for the Developer in order to pay for County infrastructure necessitated by the Developer’s massive expansion of The Villages.
• The Developer and his puppets trying to keep his money train rolling by:
- Skirting the $1,000 campaign-contribution limit via use of his various companies, his suppliers, and various committees,
- Using the resulting enormous war chest to finance ads and mailers full of lies and misleading statements,
- Running fake candidates Wahl and Prince to disenfranchise 45,000 voters, and
- Buying the incumbents’ way on to the ballot when they couldn’t get enough petition signatures.
It is time to put an end to the corruption. Vote for the EMS team for County Commissioner, real Republicans: Estep, Miller, and Search.
Scott Fenstermaker is a resident of The Villages and a frequent contributor to Villages-News.com.