|Florida Governor Rick Scott|
The chief of staff for Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott has stepped down amid allegations that he steered no-bid contracts to friends.
Steve MacNamara must have been in the wrong place, at the wrong time. If MacNamara had served under Bob Riley, Alabama's GOP governor from 2003-2011, he would have been promoted.
The Riley administration, according to a January 2009 report in the Montgomery Independent, funneled roughly $4.4 million in state funds to the Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant, which just happens to employ the governor's son-in-law, Rob Campbell.
Was that a problem for Riley's chief of staff? Heck, no. Dave Stewart went to work for Bradley Arant when Riley's term was up. What about Riley's policy director? No problemo for him, either. Bryan Taylor worked for Bradley Arant before joining the Riley staff in 2006 and went on to be elected a state senator in 2010, amid claims that he had helped ship state cash to Bradley Arant. Taylor now is a lawyer at the Montgomery firm of Capell and Howard, which is famed as Karl Rove's headquarters when he visits Alabama.
There was enough incest between the Riley administration and Bradley Arant to make Jerry Sandusky blush. But did citizens seem to care? Not much. Did Alabama's somnolent, right-wing press pay attention? Are you kidding?
Actually, one citizen did care quite a bit. Former Riley cabinet member Bill Johnson filed a complaint against the governor with then-Attorney General Troy King, including a 500-page dossier of alleged wrongdoing in the administration. We outlined Johnson's allegations in a post titled "Alabama's First Family Believes in Self-Enrichment," but we've seen no sign that anyone in authority took action.
Steve MacNamara was not so fortunate in Florida. How did he step in doo-doo? Here is how the Tampa Bay Times summed it up:
Supporters, from tea party officials to former staff members, told the Times/Herald they feared that Scott was squandering his conservative credentials and his outsider brand by engaging in dealmaking with special interests who have connections to MacNamara.
In the Senate, MacNamara steered a $5.5 million contract with Spider Data Systems for a software platform to improve public access to state budgets. The developer of the patented system, Anna Mattson, was a partner of lobbyist Jim Eaton, also a close friend of MacNamara's. He also handed over a project to shift the Senate's computer system from mainframe computers to another longtime acquaintance, Abe Uccello, at a cost of $380,000.
In the governor's office, MacNamara overruled an agency head and allowed the film commissioner, whom he previously had helped get a job in the state Senate, to travel to the Sundance Film Festival. He was also accused of attempting to influence contracting outcomes and a controversial decision to allow barrel-racing to be considered a parimutuel sport.
That would have been business as usual in the Riley administration. But in Florida, a citizen filed an ethics complaint against MacNamara, and that set off a week of intense media scrutiny. On Saturday, the governor's aide decided to pack it in.
If MacNamara wants to get away with those kinds of stunts, he needs to move to Alabama and join our GOP circus.