Doral, Florida - Florida is said to be a Free State and a Red State, but as has been pointed out in this column, the state legislature is hardly conservative at all. See: https://miamiindependent.com/florida-citizens-appraise-performance-of-candidate-for-senate-district-7/. The spirit of the conservative cause does not reside in the state legislature, despite a Republican super-majority.
Accordingly, on Saturday, October 28 @ 12 noon in the Pine Lake Golf Club, Palm Coast, near St. Augustine, a full house of around 100 grassroots conservatives, organized as Citizen Coalition of Florida Senate District 7, [email protected], announced a primary election challenge to Thomas Leek, a Republican State Representative who will reach his term limits next year, and who has launched a campaign for the State Senate in District 7. This primary election will take place on Tuesday, August 20, 2024. The Citizen Coalition has the support of other grassroots conservatives from across the state and around the country.
Citizens must not rely on the mainstream media’s reporting on state legislators; instead, we must inspect their actual voting records and sources of funding. This is what the Citizen Coalition is doing in Senate District 7.
State legislators often try to avoid accountability for election integrity legislation because their focus is on other issues, such as homeowners insurance, electric power rates and the like. They claim to rely on party leadership for guidance on election integrity, and too many legislators do not even read the bills that they vote on. The Citizen Coalition is holding this legislator accountable.
Leek’s Laws on Homeowner’s Insurance
On Representative Leek’s watch: (1) Homeowner’s insurance rates have skyrocketed. In 2020, Florida’s average insurance premium was $2,165. Three years later, in 2023 it is approximately $4,200 or more. Insurance companies are fleeing Florida, while those that stay are choosing not to renew or are tightening their eligibility criteria. (2) Florida is besieged by insurance litigation and related fraud. We represent a mere 9% of U.S. home insurance claims, but a staggering 79% of the lawsuits. Insurance companies routinely deny and delay the damage claims filed by customers in order to mitigate their losses. Insurance companies spend 92% of their expenses for defense against paying claims, and not to provide coverage to customers. (3) We need litigation reform, like in Texas, but too many legislators are in thrall to the litigation lobby. Our legislators, led by Representative Leek, in concert with claims lawyers and insurance lobbyists, have created an unsustainable insurance situation in Florida.
Also: (4) In addition to being a state legislator, Representative Leek serves as the Chief Legal Officer for Foundation Risk Partners, a national insurance brokerage representing over 30 agencies. (5) Legislation, such as Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 837, were passed by the House Appropriations Committee, where Representative Leek has been a member since 2018 and Chairman since 2022. This legislation provides incentives for insurance carriers, and reduces the rights of customers, allowing carriers to underpay claims and manipulate the legal system. Even after a customer wins his case, this legislation does not allow him to recover his own legal costs from the carrier. (6) There are no measures within this legislation to protect policyholders from the unfair claim practices used by insurance carriers. This legislation overwhelmingly serves the interests of the carriers.
Leek’s Laws on Utilities and Healthcare
Also on Representative Leek’s watch: (1) Since 2021, some electric power rates have increased by 35%. (2) In 2022, he voted to change the net metering structure, enabling electric power distributors, like Florida Power & Light and Duke Power, to charge higher rates. (3) Around 84% of Florida’s voters support net metering, but he supported House Bill 741, aimed to end the buyback mandate at the retail rate for “banked” energy from homes that installed solar panels.
And: (4) Many times since the Wuhan flu pandemic, hospitals and other healthcare institutions have been more concerned about their profitability than about the health of Floridians. In 2022, Representative Leek voted for Senate Bill 7014, extending the legal immunity of healthcare providers offering Wuhan flu treatments, even when negligence leads to severe harm.
Cloudy Leek Blocks Sunshine Laws
Representative Leek voted to cloud Florida's "Sunshine Laws," which are a series of laws and regulations designed to promote transparency and openness in government operations: (1) He voted for Senate Bill 1616, shielding the travel records of Governor DeSantis and other state leaders, creating a public records exemption for information. (2) This legislation also shields the activities of the Senate President and the House Speaker from public scrutiny, as well as setting a bad and dangerous precedent. (3) He also voted for House Bill 5001, which was $13 billion more than Governor DeSantis’ proposed budget. It was full of handouts, including two private jets for legislative leadership at a cost of $31 million. Representative Leek is not a fiscal conservative. What else has been hidden in bills or rushed through in process?
Mickey Mouse Funny Money
Representative Leek’s Political Action Committee, “Living Life with Purpose,” is a way around the limit on direct donations to state legislators of $1,000 per individual: (1) This PAC has received $4,200,000 since 2017, including more than $700,000 from a single little house in Tallahassee. (2) The insurance industry contributed at least $485,000. Other significant industry contributors were healthcare, real estate developers, and electric power distribution utilities. (3) In addition to the PAC money, over the same 2017-23 period, he received $1,300,000 in campaign contributions, amassing a total of $5,500,000. Representative Leek’s legislative record consistently favors the big-business interests that donate to his campaign: insurance, electric utilities, healthcare and real estate developers.
Banana Republic Tactics
Surrogates for Representative Leek asked Alex Newman, a conservative reformer, not to challenge the Representative in the Republican primary of 2022, but to wait until he termed out of the House. After Mr. Newman decided to run anyway, the full force of the Republican establishment came against him and other local conservative leaders who supported his candidacy. This full force manifested itself in media hit pieces, hate mail, an underground campaign, and defamatory mailers. It is estimated that $250,000 was used to target two local conservative leaders, who were not even running for office, but were supporting Mr. Newman. Finally, Representative Leek routinely avoids engagement with his own constituents in Volusia county.
Representative Leek was invited to attend this event, but neither responded nor attended. Grassroots conservatives must register and vote in the Republican primaries to challenge unresponsive legislators.
Somebody to Beat Somebody
Your columnist grew up in Chicago, where the local politicians say that you cannot beat somebody with nobody. Accordingly, grassroots conservatives are supporting Gerry James in the Republican primary for Senate District 7: https://gerry4senate.com/. Mr. James has lived in this district for some 20 years. He works as a golf pro and also as a financial advisor, and he serves a prison ministry. He is also a grandfather and a homeowner.
He calls himself a constitutional conservative and a liberty-supporting patriot. He is not going into politics to make a living and is not a career politician. He needs volunteers to go door-to-door in his district in a grassroots campaign.
Legislators Selected, Not Elected
In contrast, the Republican House Campaign Committee, chaired by Speaker Paul Renner, spent over $1 million in the 2022 primary to re-elect Representative Jim Mooney in District 120, Key West to Homestead. Representative Mooney: (1) earned a “D,” the lowest score in the legislative Scorecrd issued in May this year by the Republican Liberty Caucus; (2) spends his time in Tallahassee mostly in karaoke bars; and (3) voted against Parental Rights in Education, which is the signature legislation not only of Governor DeSantis, but also of Republicans nationwide, and provided the foundation for Governor Youngkin’s victory in Virginia.
Fortunately, Representative Mooney has announced that he will not seek re-election next year. However, has Representative Danny Perez, the Speaker-designate, learned anything from l’affair Mooney? https://miamiindependent.com/tammany-hall-in-tallahassee/. The Republican leadership of the state legislature in Tallahassee uses funds raised from large donors to interfere in primaries and select their legislators. The Citizen Coalition is attempting to end that system in Senate District 7.
The spirit of the conservative cause does not reside in the Republican party. It resides in grassroots conservative groups, independent from the establishment of the party, and made up of ordinary citizens. They are not professional politicians, but take up arms when necessary, like the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord. These activists work within the Republican party, but they are not of the party apparatus. Politics is too important to be left to politicians.
They also do not waste their time in third parties, because they know that the main battlefield in Florida lies mostly in the primaries of the Republican party. In American politics, the two main parties are like dual racing tracks set next to each other, so that one can prevail. Third parties are for losers, and the real action is mostly in the primaries.
As the Lieutenant Governor of the Great State of Texas, Dan Patrick, puts it: (1) first, he is a Christian; (2) then he is a conservative; and (3) only thereafter is he a Republican. He exercised his priorities this year when he presided over the Texas Senate during the impeachment trial and acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, a MAGA patriot.
This is particularly true now that the Republican party is being reconstituted along nationalist, populist and conservative lines, in that order: (1) American nationalism is not based on ethnicity, but on ideology. It means putting America first, ahead of any global interests or new world order. We are citizens of the United States, not citizens of the world. (2) Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, stated at Gettysburg in 1863, that the American republic is founded on the basis of government by, for and of the people. The progressive vision of government by so-called expert technocrats with limited accountability to the people is not only un-American, but also anti-American. (3) Conservative means consistently standing for limited government, fiscal responsibility and private enterprise, like the Tea Parties that started in 2009.
The Republican party should not endorse or otherwise interfere in primaries. That space belongs to ordinary voters, the grassroots, We The People. There is a disconnect between the establishment and the grassroots. Accordingly, conservatives must engage in the Republican party and participate in primaries, but not become part of the establishment apparatus.