Like most American military leaders, everyday soldiers take pride in developing the integrity they carry throughout their military careers, and after they are discharge for the U.S. Armed Forces.Honesty really is the only policy for military types, but sometimes that same honesty takes a backseat to circumstances that develop on a new, non-military battlefield.
This is especially the case when former military enter the world of politics.
Retired wounded U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Mast (R) is running for the U.S. Congress in Florida’s 18th congressional district.
Mast, who will face businessman Randy Perkins (D) in November’s general election after winning his primary election race against a strong field of GOP candidates, is having his integrity as a candidate challenged.
During the primary election season, a toxic-algae outbreak in Florida, which is said to be chiefly caused by nutrients released from farm land run-off, had pressured candidates running for elected office to distance themselves from those entities or individuals who are perceived as being culpable with the statewide water pollution.The sugar industry is being unfairly blamed for all of the nutrient run-off, even though individual land owner use of lawn fertilizer and Septic tank refuse have also been identified as major causes of the water pollution throughout the state of Florida.
Sugar and spice and everything is not nice.
Here is where Brian Mast’s integrity has been called into question by several of his past primary opponents, and now by some of the very same people that supported his candidacy.
During the height of the primary election, Mast’s opponent, Attorney Rick Kozell, demanded that Mast return all of the campaign donations he received from “Big Sugar” and those affiliated with the sugar industry.
Mast took issue with Kozell line of attack, and even went as far as to refer to him as a “P.O.S.” during a televised debate for suggesting that the double-amputee veteran was bought by the sugar industry.According to sources close to the Mast campaign, Mast first thought about returning of the sugar money back as early as April or May, before Kozell demanded that he do so.
Mast’s finance director, Zach Burr and his associate Teresa Dailey, first initiated contact with West Palm Beach-based Florida Crystals, one of the largest, if not the largest sugar producers in the nation.
Team Mast when all in after the coveted sugar money, and got it, much to the disappointment of incoming Senate President Joe Negron (R), whose wife Rebecca was also running against Mast in the primary election.
Sen. Negron is said to have been furious with the Fanjul family, owners of Florida Crystals, after they decided to back Mast over his wife.
|FANJUL JR, JOSE||CONTRIBUTION REFUND||WEST PALM BEACH||FL||33401||06/15/2016||$2,700|
|FANJUL, EMILIA||CONTRIBUTION REFUND||PALM BEACH||FL||33480||06/15/2016||$2,700|
|FANJUL, JOSE||CONTRIBUTION REFUND||WEST PALM BEACH||FL||33401||06/15/2016||$2,700|
|FANJUL, LOURDES||CONTRIBUTION REFUND||WEST PALM BEACH||FL||33401||06/15/2016||$2,700|
By backing Mast over Negron, Florida Crystals painted a big political target on their backs, as Senator Negron has now suggested that some existing land owned by the Fanjuls be part of a larger Florida State land grab to help ongoing water restoration effort.This is called political payback.
Mast, at the suggestion, guidance and direction of Zack Burr, took the sugar money early on, but according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, later refunded it on June 15, 2016
Burr is also said to have fought Mast and staff about returning the money, fearing how these donors would handle having their money returned to them.
As we mentioned earlier, Mast was called out by Kozell to return the money, and did so. Mast has also emphatically stated on his Facebook page and in a few campaign videos, that he had returned all of the money donated by the sugar industry.
Yes, according to the filings, Mast returned the money, but did Zack Burr, who is in charge of all of the campaign’s finances, suggest to Mast that they hold off from sending the actual refund checks until a later date?This appears to have been the case.
According to source very close to the Fanjul family, on Friday September 9, 2016, about three months after Mast all-but publicly denounced the sugar industry and posting the campaign donation refunds to the Fanjuls, the Fanjuls finally received their campaign refunds.
The same source, who is also privy to the political wranglings of the family, said that when Mast denounced the donations, the entire family was infuriated in the manner in which did so.
Moreover, what was more upsetting than the Mast donation stiff arm, was that Mast held on to their money for so long, which could suggest that his campaign couldn’t part with any cash during the primary election.
More on this developing story to come, including possible legal issues, and an indirect tie to a sitting U.S. Senator from Florida.Stay tuned.