Kurly’s Kommentary: Indecent Abuse of Power: Audits shouldn’t be used for McCarthyistic political retribution

By Steven Kurlander

In his introductory remarks to his book “Liberty and Tyranny,” conservative Mark Levin decries the abuse of power by “Statists” as a true threat to individual liberty, fair governance, and constitutional protections afforded to Americans:
“…the Statist has an insatiable appetite for control. His sights are set on his next meal before he has fully digested his last. He is constantly agitating for government action. And in furtherance of that purpose, the Statist speaks in the tongue of the demagogue, concocting one pretext and grievance after another to manipulate public perceptions and build popular momentum for the divestiture of liberty and property from its rightful possessors.”
There’s a state senator in Florida who not only fits that definition of a Statist, but is also borrowing tactics from Joe McCarthy’s playbook to concoct a crisis of fiscal management in government institutions not bending to his dictates or political will.
Like McCarthy falsely alleged infiltration of communists in the Truman Administration and Hollywood to attack politicians and enemies, Democratic State Senator Joe Abruzzo of Wellington is questioning the legitimacy of agencies that stand in his way or fail to carry out his dictates, and using his power to order audits and threaten the sustainability of praiseworthy government agencies.
Abruzzo, using his position as Joint Legislative Auditing Committee Chairman, appears to be demanding audits of those government bodies that refuse to play ball with him or s political cronies.
All that is missing is an allegation by Abruzzo that he has a list of 200 known public corrupt officials running governmental agencies in Palm Beach County.
First, Abruzzo has targeted with an audit the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, a watchdog of political sleaze in what is known as “Corruption County.”  Interestingly, his handpicked candidate for Executive Director of the Ethics Commission was recently refused the job as Palm Beach County Ethics Commissioner Ronald Harbison noted after Abruzzo asked the Florida Senate’s Office to order the audit by the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) of the Ethic’s Commission half a million dollar budget, five person office.
Palm Beach Post Editorial Writer Andrew Marra described the request for the Ethics Commission audit as “a bizarre, nearly unprecedented move that smacks of retribution and political intimidation.”
And even though Delray Beach is not in his district, Abruzzo recently took it upon himself to order the audit of the city’s CRA regarding its operation and funding of the not for profit Arts Garage after the election of a new mayor in Delray Beach.
Abruzzo, taking on the new Mayor of Delray Beach Cary Glickstein who favored allowing the Arts Garage to stay in a city-owned location sought by a powerful law firm, appears to have seized an opportunity created by the complaint of allies of defeated Mayor Tom Carney (whom Abruzzo endorsed in the race) against the CRA and their funding of the innovative arts and cultural institution to use the audit process as a means of political retribution for a member of his Democratic political machine.
In a publication issued by the Comptroller General of the United States entitled Government Auditing Standards, government audits are conducted to assure that:
“Public confidence in government is maintained and strengthened by auditors’ performing their professional responsibilities with integrity. Integrity includes auditors’ conducting their work with an attitude that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, and nonideological with regard to audited entities and users of the auditors’ reports. Within the constraints of applicable confidentiality laws, rules, or policies, communications with the audited entity, those charged with governance, and the individuals contracting for or requesting the audit are expected to be honest, candid, and constructive.”
What Abruzzo has done in abusing his position as Chairman of the Legislature’s Auditing Committee is to politicize the audit process and bring into question the sanctity of the independent nature of governmental audits in Florida.
In almost Kafkaesqe terms, he’s suggested a respected ethics commission has questionable ethics with no true facts of corruption, and acted on a political allegation based on a questionable Attorney General’s opinion to attack a CRA that is a model for the State of Florida in governance and effectiveness.  And while it is well known the Delray Beach CRA is audited yearly with the reports available online, Abruzzo continues to say they have never been audited.
Instead of being outraged and sitting on Abruzzo, Democratic leadership is encouraging Abruzzo to continue his manipulations.  It was reported that Democratic Minority Leader Chris Smith implored Abruzzo, “don’t back down” in the face of criticism of his audit demands.
Talk about concocting a grievance to manipulate public perception.  If anything, Abruzzo should step back, both from the demands for the audits and from his chairmanship of the Legislative Audit Committee.
Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before Abruzzo, like Joseph McCarthy, faces the ultimate question of his Statist tactics:  “Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”


  1. Molder from West Palm Beach · ·



  2. Stephanie RK · ·

    Very true. They are a joke in Tallahassee and locally they are criminals.


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