Slowly but surely, the GOP Senate candidates are taking more shots at each other in advance of the August 30 primary.
Carlos Beruff has yet to respond directly to David Jolly’s criticism that he should apologize for referring to President Obama as “an animal” in a speech last week before St. John’s County Republicans. Earlier on Sunday, however, Jolly took a major shot at Beruff’s past in a TV interview.
The context was Jolly responding to criticism of his congressional proposal in the House to ban federal office holders from fundraising, something that all four of Jolly’s opponents have said in reaction to his proposed Stop Act. But when WFLA News Channel 8’s Candace McGowan referred to Beruff’s criticism of the Stop Act in a Sunday morning interview, Jolly went nuclear.
“Cynicism is not leadership,” the Pinellas County Congressman began. “Particularly coming from one of the most prolific donors in the state, somehow who sought to destroy our coastlines, our mangroves, simply for the sake of his personal profit. Who built homes with Chinese drywall, chose not to compensate his victims. That is not someone who I’m going to suffer questions of integrity.”
Jolly went on to say that his legislation — which has earned him oodles of free media, including a scheduled appearance Monday at the National Press Club in Washington — has started a “national movement.”
“When you’re in politics, you say silly things, and I think that’s what we probably saw from him,” Jolly said about Beruff’s criticism of the legislation.
Let’s take a look at Jolly’s charges.
Public records show that Beruff and his wife Janelle have donated more than $600,000 to state and federal political campaigns since 2002.
Beruff’s role as a developer was controversial long before he entered the race earlier this year. Along with other development partners, Beruff sued Manatee County after the county commission rejected what was known as the Long Bar Pointe project, a 500-acre development that environmentalists say could cause irreparable damage to the shoreline.
Manatee County commissioners settled a lawsuit with Beruff and the other partners regarding the project last month.
Beruff was a member of the Southwest Florida Management District when that board voted to allow his friend and fellow developer Pat Neal a permit to tear down mangroves and build a family compound in what is known as Harbour Sound.
Jolly also got in a reference to Beruff’s Medallion Homes company back in 2010, when it was discovered that at least a half-dozen homes built by the firm used contaminated Chinese drywall.
At the time, Medallion’s attorney, Alan Tannenbaum said the reason Medallion was not repairing the affected home was that they did not have the money to do so. The company was part of a class-action lawsuit resolved in 2012 that ordered the supplier of the drywall and businesses that used it to remediate the damage the drywall caused.
“Jolly has perfected his craft as a professional Washington politician as a lobbyist, a congressional staffer, and a congressman, so it’s no surprise to see him slinging mud,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Beruff campaign.