How does $1 million in taxpayer money become $25.5 million overnight? Ask the Speaker of the Florida House

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A Florida politician–in this case a very high-ranking one–is in the middle of a you-feed-our-wallet-and-I’ll-feed-yours scandal in which the offenders didn’t even bother covering their tracks, so commonplace are such machinations in the most corrupt state government in the country.
Carl Hiaasen reports the story in his usual droll way, but I’ll summarize it in outline form:

1. Man graduates from college and eventually enters the political fray.
2. As chief budget writer for the Florida House of Representatives, man transforms a proposed $1 million allocation to his alma mater from the Department of Education to $25.5 million–at a time when a $2 billion state budget shortfall is in effect and much larger and needier colleges and universities across the state are suffering accordingly.
3. On the day man ascends to the position of Speaker of the Florida House, president of said college names him vice president of said college at a salary of $110,000–without having advertised the position.
4. To top it off, a year ago, man shunted $6 million to a big campaign donor and developer so he can build a private airplane hangar on public land, a fact all involved ludicrously deny despite the existence of detailed blueprints and more.
This is a garden-variety, no-holds-barred payoff. But in Florida, such things are rarely judged to be over the top, so don’t hold your breath waiting for recriminations. Unreal.

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