Politics is one nasty business.
And for one of the candidates for State Representative, District 92, this week proved just how nasty it can get.
I received a call. It was a well known, behind the scenes political operative.
He had the goods on State Representative Candidate Mark LaFontaine, and he wanted me to have them – (I guess it had something to do with this blog!) He asked if he could meet up with me and give me the documents.
I told him to meet me at a local coffee shop in twenty minutes. If the matter was bull, at least I’d get a cup of Joe out of it. It wasn’t bull. It was pretty serious stuff.
LaFontaine’s most recent problems were in 2005 and 2006 : A Default Judgement in a civil lawsuit, an eviction from a rental apartment, and driving on a suspended licence.
The most serious charges are old, from 1992, and include an arrest during a domestic dispute for Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest with Violence, and Trespassing.
I know Lafontaine, and I like him. He has been a civic activist for a long time. He is mostly known as the Boy Scout / Eagle Scout that fought the Boy Scouts of America for keeping gays out of their organization. He has guts.
When I called him to tell him what I had been given, he didn’t collapse, and didn’t seem all that surprised. I offered him an opportunity to explain, through this blog, why voters should still vote for him knowing of the problems in his background.
His explanation follows:
By Mark LaFontaine,
Candidate for Florida Legislature, District 92
It’s always interesting to see the type of character a person exudes as an individual, especially when that person is a candidate for public office.
As an Eagle Scout and military veteran, I want to be sure that voters know that I am an open book when it comes to my past. Since I filed for the District 92 House seat last year in March, I have invited voters to research me on the Internet, and to read about my past history, my present civic activities and my future goals for the community when elected as the next Florida State Representative for District 92.
The character traits that I cherish most about myself are my honesty and integrity.
I admit, and this is not news: I have a few knocks against me. But in the interest of full disclosure, let me be up front about what they are, lest voters get swayed by misleading direct mail.
The truth on Mark’s “domestic dispute”.
In 1992, I had a domestic dispute with my longtime partner over a personal issue, which was verbal in nature. The police arrived at our apartment and asked me to leave — I refused. I was then jumped on, beaten (suffering two cracked vertebrae) and arrested, spending about 5 days in jail, clothed only in a pair of jogging shorts and placed in the “AIDS faggot” cell. The police report indicated a series of events that did not take place, resulting in 4 serious charges. In fact, my partner at the time was told to sign the statement or face imprisonment himself.
The two most severe charges were dropped because they never happened, and I plead “no-contest” to the others based upon the advice of counsel. There was no conviction under the plea deal and adjudication was withheld. I dispute the charges in the original report and have a sworn affidavit from my former partner declaring what happened and what didn’t, although I agree there was no excuse for those actions that happened when I was in my early 20s.
The truth on Mark’s “traffic issues”.
In 2003, I was involved in a car accident where my vehicle was “T-boned.” At no time was I cited, ticketed or arrested. I had had a drink or two for my birthday, but no DUI was reported. The police officer at the scene stated that he smelled no alcohol and that I was coherent and alert.
As is typical in these situations, there was a judgment against me personally from the other drivers’ insurance company, and my license was suspended and my registration delayed. I was not made aware of this judgment until 2006 and in fact was led to believe that my insurance company – which is now out of business — would pay the claim. Once notified, I took immediate steps to make monthly payments and am pursuing my legal options against my insurance company for full settlement of the claim.
The truth on Mark’s “eviction situation”.
After Hurricane Wilma, several tenants, myself included, told the management company of our Fort Lauderdale apartment that we were not able to pay our rent due to the lack of business/work immediately following the hurricane and its devastating effect on the local economy. Everyone who was here then remembers what it was like for several weeks – no school, no work, no electricity or phones. I knew my clientele of mainly small businesses would be back on their own feet themselves and all would be taken care of within the month. The management company took an unusually hard line against us tenants, and said that anyone who was late would be evicted. The management company had my last month and security deposit for the outstanding rent, which they kept. No funds were outstanding when I moved out of the building. I will note that my subsequent landlords have always been paid on time, as they will all attest.
What this all means.
Let me be clear, I take full responsibility for my actions and what has happened to me over the years. I’m human and I’ve made mistakes. I get kicked down and pick myself up again. That’s why I have a direct connection to the voters. Real people have real problems, and they want to support someone who has lived and understands their problems.
As an accountant, my clients rely upon me to manage their financial situations and to guide them in their decisions. While my personal life has had some bumps, my clients have praised my professionalism and dedication to my work. This will be true of the community as well.
I can stand before the voters and say, “Here’s the situation. And here’s how I fixed it.” That’s the approach I’ll take if you elect me.
I could have had my records expunged or sealed so they were hidden, but actively chose not to. I have nothing to hide.
I’m proud of the campaign I have been running — a positive, issues-oriented campaign that has reached out to voters throughout the district. I have major supporters, including US Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who recognizes that my accounting and financial experience, my military service, and my work in the Broward community will provide District 92 with a well-rounded representative.
As a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, I needed to pass an intensive background screening by the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard in order to receive my security clearance. All of these issues were raised, discussed and deemed not worthy of concern at the highest levels of the US Government.
The bottom line: If you want a Representative who is honest and with content in his character, then vote for me.
So there it is. I’ll be interested in your comments…. ciao, Tim