Steaks, planes and campaign cash reveal Corcoran’s hypocrisy

“It’s revolting, and it reflects Tallahassee’s pay-to-play culture and the hypocrisy of a powerful lawmaker who portrays himself as a champion of the little guy.”

Editorial, Tampa Bay Times

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran lives the high life. He’s raising big money for the state Republican Party and his political committee, and the cash is being spent on junkets to Napa Valley, charter planes and steak dinners. Lots of steak dinners. It’s revolting, and it reflects Tallahassee’s pay-to-play culture and the hypocrisy of a powerful lawmaker who portrays himself as a champion of the little guy.

A review of the Republican Party of Florida’s finances by Adam C. Smith and Eli Zhang of the Tampa Bay Times reveals how money largely raised from special interests fuels Corcoran’s high-priced political operation. There’s an $8,000 dinner tab at California’s French Laundry restaurant, more than $400,000 for charter planes, more than $26,000 at steakhouses such as Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris — and $1,000 for cufflinks. Corcoran’s primary political operative has been reimbursed more than $1.5 million for party expenses billed to his credit card. By any measure, the numbers reflect a breathtaking sense of entitlement.

Yet just as galling is Corcoran remains remarkably unrepentant. He argues this is the price of a successful fundraising machine, and he says it pays off in election results. The Republicans did not lose an incumbent House seat and picked up a Democratic seat in the 2016 elections the Land O’Lakes Republican oversaw.

That doesn’t excuse Corcoran’s duplicity. The consummate insider casts himself as the reformer, fighting government incentives to businesses that create jobs, railing against the state tourism agency’s costly promotion gimmicks, questioning the spending of nonprofit hospitals and cracking down on travel expenses by public employees. That fiscal conservatism clearly doesn’t extend to his own operations.

Read more here.