08.24.2018 0

Prosecuting political opponents hits local prosecutor race in Florida

By Robert Romano

Chris Crowley is a candidate for the State Attorney’s office in the 20th Judicial Circuit in Florida and when he ran a 50/50 raffle to raise money for the campaign, he found himself being jailed after his opponent’s boss, current State Attorney Steve Russell filed a criminal complaint, to the benefit of his protégé, Amira Fox, Crowley’s opponent. Both candidates are Republicans.

By then, the money — a negligible $670 — had already been returned, but that was not enough to satisfy Crowley’s opponents, who had the case turned over the 10th Judicial Circuit, which then had him arrested on gambling and campaign finance violations after Crowley turned himself in. Crowley also alleged that prior to the arrest the 10th Circuit’s Jerry Hill even urged him to quit the race or else face charges over the raffle.

All over something that could have probably been handled by a phone call.

Now, Crowley is pressing on with the race, and stated to this author that he is considering filing a bar complaint against Hill for threatening prosecution to achieve a political outcome.

Which is the most alarming aspect of this episode. Even leaving aside the alleged threat to prosecute if he did not quit the race, just look at how far those with prosecutorial powers are willing to go to take out their political opponents the moment the slightest infraction comes to light.

Crowley stated Fox was taking political advantage of the arrest to enhance her campaign by touting it to harm her opponent.

This underscores the major problem of political prosecutions we see today. Partisans appear more than happy to watch as their political opponents are ensnared in these sorts of legal troubles, assuming it makes it easier to win those elections when that happens. Crowley said he thinks it might be backfiring on Fox, saying the episode had helped him to pick up some votes.

Still, it is an abuse of power. In this case, the original criminal complaint arose from the very office that Crowley is seeking.

Crowley likened the strong-arm prosecutorial tactics used against him to developments occurring on the national political stage, which find the U.S. Justice Department targeting former Trump campaign and administration officials, seemingly at the behest of President Donald Trump’s political opponents.

In 2016, Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton and her campaign and the DNC paid Fusion GPS to hire former British spy Christopher Steele to compile the dossier that alleged Trump and his campaign had somehow colluded with Russia to hack the DNC emails and have them published on Wikileaks. Those allegations were given to the Obama administration, who turned it over to the FBI, and the rest is history. Now the counterintelligence probe has turned into a Special Counsel case, despite former FBI Director James Comey saying the original allegations were “unverified.” None of which would be happening had Trump never ran against Clinton.

“Amira Dajani Fox and Hillary Clinton are one and the same,” Crowley said, stating his belief that his opponent, Fox, had a role in his arrest. Fox has denied the allegation. On the other hand, Fox has failed to decry the jailing of her political opponent. Doesn’t she think that was a bit excessive?

Using political connections to get police powers used against your political opponents is wrong, and it shouldn’t be happening in America. In the case of Crowley, whose election is on Tuesday, Aug. 28, there are appropriate regulatory venues to file campaign finance complaints that don’t require the jailing of your political opponent, which will always be an abuse of power.

If Amira Fox does not want to be associated with these police state tactics, then she should denounce them instead of defending them. These are the types of disorders that banana republics commonly deal with. They should not be a standard feature of the United States, the land of the free. We’ve seen quite enough of that already.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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