Just as I was boarding the Disney Dream for five days at sea, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reported that Chris Clark, Senate President Don Gaetz’s right-hand man, has been running his own political consulting firm, allowing him indirectly to rake in more than $400,000 in fees.
The first thought that came to mind as I read the story was ‘pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.’
But five days away from the blog and Twitters afforded me some needed time to think deeper about this imbroglio.
One thought I have about it is that Clark is really no different than the Florida Highway Patrol officer moonlighting as a security guard at Dillard’s.
The State of Florida cannot afford to pay the FHP officer what they deserve for their service to the public, nor could it match what he or she could command in the private sector if they took their talents and walked.
So everyone turns a blind eye to the fact that the FHP officers are dressed in their official regalia while they defend the Clinique counter and shoe departments. Meanwhile, the officers supplant their government salaries with the kind of money they need to lead a decent life.
Isn’t that kinda, sorta what Chris Clark did? He has spent years as Don Gaetz’ legislative aide, earning a relatively paltry salary along the way. So Gaetz let him play campaign consultant in his (for his sake, let’s hope) spare time, so he could supplant his government salary with the kind of money needed to lead a much better than decent life.
The truth is Clark could have moved to the private sector a couple of years ago by signing with Capitol Floridian Insight Robinson Southern Partners any time he wanted and earned three times more a year than what he has from his hybrid position with Don Gaetz.
I get it, it’s bad optics. The headline blaring about Clark raking in $400,000 from his sideline business reads as if Las Vegas Sands deposited that much in poker chips in a private accounts so he would convince Gaetz to legalize gambling.
As we continue to discuss this story, a better sense of proportion is needed — and that may not come from envious reporters making little more than Highway Patrolmen.