Adam Putnam may look like a grown-up Opie Taylor, but his voting record, pathetic enforcement of food safety regulations and his abuse of campaign finance laws make it clear that he is not the squeaky-clean son of the best Sheriff in the South. In fact, it seems that if Putnam can’t vote to make a law work better for the Establishment, he stops enforcing it. And, if the laws are inconvenient to Putnam and his political committees, he simply ignores them.
Mr. Establishment Goes to Washington
First elected to the Florida House as a 22-year old with all the worldly experience of a college degree, Putnam quickly outgrew the confines and small budgets of Tallahassee. He was ready for the big-time and rapidly moved up to Washington, DC, the richest city in America, where people get rich by sponging off the hard work of taxpayers.
Adam Putnam fits right in with the Washington power elite, and he rewarded them time and time again for their kindness to him. When it came to protecting the system, the very essence of the Establishment itself, Putnam spent ten years in Washington greasing the wheels of prosperity with votes to expand the debt ceiling, increase budgets, bail out Wall Street and provide Cash for Clunkers all while voting EIGHT times to raise his own pay. It’s great work if you can get it! And when it came time for Putnam’s family to sell their property, the government, conveniently, wanted to buy it at a price $20M higher than it had appraised for only a year earlier. Putnam, serving on both corporate boards of the selling entity, says he kept his hands off the deal, kind of like a blind trust – with 20/20 vision.
During the 2000 Presidential race, Al Gore called out the Bush campaign for subliminally using the word “RATS” in a campaign ad.
But instead of making rats appear, Putnam uses his power to make rodents, or at least their droppings, disappear! Apparently, if you are a grocery giant with a great reputation but have big problems with food safety violations – like rat poop in your stores – Adam Putnam is a good friend to have. All you have to do to make your regulatory problems go away is to make massive campaign contributions to the Putnam political machine. In 24 hours of your problems garnering attention, all your food safety violations will disappear! Literally, completely removed from a state agency website. And we thought nothing ever disappeared on-line. If only Google could be so accommodating!
Laws are for Other People!
And then there are those pesky Campaign Finance laws – requiring disclosure of who gives campaign cash and where it is spent.
Florida Grown has spent over $2M since its inception, with 70% of the expenditures going to one vendor, a small LLC based in central Florida: Silloh Consulting, LLC. A company that is owned by Florida Grown’s Chairman, Justin Hollis. Why would a seasoned politician pay one vendor over $80,000 a month for the activities of a political committee? He isn’t, really, if one digs a little deeper. Given the names and purposes of certain expenses (some for reimbursements to vendors not on the Putnam payroll) that are also disclosed in the report – the only logical conclusion is that Putnam is paying a straw man so the straw man can pay all the vendors that are really doing the work. Who is creating Putnam’s, or Florida Grown’s very aggressive social media campaign, supporting Putnam’s fundraising efforts, updating his website, doing his catering, managing his travel? Can it be that Silloh Consulting is so good that it can do everything a candidate needs? We sincerely doubt it. Putnam is at best evading the law, he is at worst abjectly ignoring it, and daring citizens to file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.
Will there be any agriculture left if Putnam needs a new career?
Don’t let the Opie look fool you, Putnam is very good at playing the game of politics – and to career politicians of the Establishment – it is a blood sport. For that reason, Putnam is garnering a great amount of support from the Establishment. If Putnam runs for Governor in 2018, the question is, after the veneer wears off, does Mr. Establishment have a chance with the same voters who elected Rick Scott over Bill McCollum in 2010 and Donald Trump over Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in 2016? You remember those candidates, Establishment candidates, unbeatable candidates, right? Not so!
Power is a wonderful thing. When you have it, people fear you and don’t speak out. But when cracks appear, friends and allies alike begin hurling accusations, and the once powerful are brought to their knees. We’ve seen it time and time again – a politician riding high until his travel records uncover scandal, his campaign money spent inappropriately, or confidential emails are found to have been stored on a server in the basement. Before you know it, everyone in town has a story about a dirty deed committed by that once powerful leader, who gets kicked off the ticket, withdraws from the race or bombs on election day.
The question remains for Putnam, despite being the darling of the Establishment, the Boy of Big Sugar, the Charge of the IOU’s, the Chum of the Chamber and the Friend of Associated Industries, how long will it take before the people who elected Putnam grow tired of him taking care of his cronies? We can only hope for Putnam’s sake that, since Florida agriculture is but a shadow of what it once was – back when Putnam started making laws in Tallahassee – he isn’t forced to return to a shrinking industry like agriculture when things aren’t so lucrative for him in politics. Keep your seatbelt on; the wheels may be coming off along with Opie’s veneer.