Politics

Democrat State Senator Solicits Favor to Restore Family’s Power Downed by Hurricane Irma

“There is a deep well of controversy swirling around Senator Campbell (and family). From the history we are exposed to from various journalistic sources, it is hard to discount special favors are the norm in the Campbell camp.”

A certain Florida state senator named Daphne Campbell (D – North Miami Beach) used her connections at Florida Power and Light (FPL) to have electric service restored at her family’s homes after power was knocked out by the force of Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017.

Formerly a three-term state representative, Senator Campbell popped a text to an FPL lobbyist who then forwarded the Campbell kin addresses to John Holley, vice president of state government affairs at FPL. She provided him the specific addresses of “constituents” and motivated him to help restore power to residences related to her, despite thousands of Miami-Dade County citizens in the dark (without electricity).

According to WPLG Local10.com, “One week after Irma struck the South Florida area, almost 53,000 homes remain without power in Miami-Dade County.”

Rise: News encapsulated the details regarding this saga depicting a politician’s privilege. In its report, Rise: News pieced together a collage of the events, including actual text messages volleyed between Campbell and FPL officials, to include the following text to FPL VP John Holley: “The power for my mom off again. Can you please ask someone to take care of that ASAP?”

Notice she used the word “again,” implying not the first time she solicited power restoration on behalf of her mom. I’m certain millions of others in the Miami dark wanted ASAP service too.

In the audio/video published by Rise: News, Senator Campbell vehemently defends her actions and labels herself “a people person” who is “unbeatable.” Her Twitter page has one tweet posted in January 2010 when she opened her account and announced her bid for a state representative seat:

Academically, Sen. Campbell is a trained nurse. Besides not exercising common sense to ensure a loved one’s oxygen supply is safeguarded against a lull in power, a nurse would especially have that readily on her mind. Since we covered her previous assertion that “power for my mom off again,” implying this is not the first time, wouldn’t contingency plans have been implemented prior to Hurricane Irma?

Moreover, power companies routinely have programs for such situations and certain demographics such as disabled folks. Regarding the absolute reliance on electrical continuity because of an established, bona fide disability, people register for free and are ordinarily recognized as priority. Hastening an already prioritized response seems demanding.

Per Rise: News, FPL spokesman Mark Bubriski said of Sen. Campbell, “I am positive that she did not receive special treatment.” Reportedly, FPL VP John Holley declined to comment on the matter.

Senator Campbell claims, “I did ask for other constituents.” It is believed a neighbor of one of the particular residences she is associated with had power restored thanks to FPL.

While writing this piece, the following popped up on Twitter:

Ethics Commission

Although Senator Campbell embraced the accusations against her, citing she was acting on behalf of her constituents, it certainly comes off as sketchy when a chosen few (family) are the constituents she refers to. What about the thousands of other constituents without power?

That is what ethics commissions are designed to investigate. The Florida Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections is such an embodiment, purposed for sorting through what appears to be impropriety of elected officials.

On five separate occasions, Red Light cameras caught Senator Campbell’s husband’s Honda Odyssey, resulting in five violation notices sent via mail

According to the Florida Ethics Commission’s Sunshine Amendment and Code of Ethics, the following subsection may have some authoritative reign over Senator Campbell’s alleged solicitation perceived as a “favor”:

  1. Misuse of Public Position Public officers and employees, and local government attorneys are prohibited from corruptly using or attempting to use their official positions or the resources thereof to obtain a special privilege or benefit for themselves or others. [Sec. 112.313(6), Fla. Stat.]

“Official positions…to obtain a special privilege or benefit for themselves or others” may hold some contextual legal accountability for which she can be held responsible.

Sen. Campbell ought to be intimately familiar with ethics and violations of laws. As a former three-term elected lawmaker on Florida’s Capitol Hill in Tallahassee, one would know the nuances of right and wrong, especially abuse of power.

Other Family Matters

On five separate occasions, Red Light cameras caught Senator Campbell’s husband’s Honda Odyssey, resulting in five violation notices sent via mail.

As the Miami Herald reported the matter: “Most citizens would slow down. But Daphne Campbell isn’t like most citizens. She’s a Democratic state representative who has another way to deal with future red-light tickets: file legislation to ban the traffic-surveillance cameras that shot video of her husband’s Honda Odyssey breaking traffic laws.”

Despite the controversy surrounding Red Light camera systems that went up nationwide a few years ago, the law is the law for all to abide by. Although jurisdictions slowly phased out their Red Light camera programs, when in full effect, traffic laws apply and ticket recipients have the right to solicit court hearings before a judge.

Whether Sen. Campbell—at the time a state lawmaker—was motivated to abolish Red Light camera laws because of her husband’s chronic entanglement with them is uncertain, but it sure seems likely after her husband’s handful of tickets from that particular traffic infraction.

A Tampa Bay Times journalist stationed at the state capital conducted an interview with then-State Representative Campbell who, upon revelation of the five Red Light violations racked up by her spouse, reverted to some alternate reality…claiming they do not exist.

Even with definitive evidence (video provided by American Traffic Solutions, which operates the Red Light camera system) that her husband’s Honda Odyssey, bearing a Campbell political campaign sticker, broke the law, Campbell’s response to the Capitol Hill reporter was, “It’s a lie. That camera is a made up story. You can do anything with the computer now.”

Quite odd that the government overseeing Miami-Dade County’s 2,730,396 population somehow honed in on Campbell’s husband five times now. Actually, American Traffic Solutions, based in Arizona, operates the Red Light camera systems across the country. As required by statute, a bona fide sworn police officer must view and sign off on each qualified violation. I performed that task for 13 months (light duty) when in police service years ago.

Turns out that Sen. Campbell’s son was the target of an investigation for allegedly scheming to defraud Medicaid to the tune of $300,000. Gregory Campbell was convicted of that crime in November 2013

If we are to believe Sen. Campbell that “It’s a lie. That camera is made up. You can do anything with the computer now,” it would take a feat of magic to doctor footage to make it appear her husband ran the red light five separate times, then have a cop review the same footage at the same corner where thousands of the exact same violations occurred. “Presto, change-o”? Nope.

Muddy Waters?

Senator Campbell and her spouse are proprietors of several businesses—about ten group homes included—some of which are healthcare-related and therefore bill Medicaid for services rendered to clients possessing Medicaid benefits. Turns out that Sen. Campbell’s son was the target of an investigation for allegedly scheming to defraud Medicaid to the tune of $300,000. Gregory Campbell was convicted of that crime in November 2013.

Senator Campbell’s husband was also nabbed by the federal government. He falsified several documents seeking loans by using a Social Security number that was not his. He amassed $829,013 in that scheme to defraud

In 2007, Senator Campbell’s husband was also nabbed by the federal government. He plead guilty. Why? He falsified several documents seeking loans by using a Social Security number that was not his. He amassed $829,013 in that scheme to defraud, according to The Miami Herald.

The Herald also wrote about Sen. Campbell’s tax liens, regarding which she denied the allegations, saying, “I don’t have no tax liens.” Hard to deny such things exist when it is public record and attainable at the county court house, providing journalists first-hand accounts from bona fide government authorities. After the denial, however, Sen. Campbell reversed course and admitted, “My accountant is working with the IRS.” So, there’s that.

Self-Fulfilling Legislator

As a Floridian, I had never heard of Senator Daphne Campbell…until I consoled a dear friend whose power is still out since Hurricane Irma’s fury yanked the cord nine days ago. As soon as I learned about the misfortune of my friend in Central Florida, I came across the reports of Sen. Campbell calling in favors to restore power to those dear to her. Irony and paradox at once.

Marc Caputo of The Miami Herald authored an intriguing indictment of Senator Campbell and some of her kin.

Several avoidable deaths occurred at a few of Senator Campbell’s chain of group homes, an enterprise she owns/operated with her son, Gregory Campbell (before his felony scheme to defraud conviction). Naturally, state investigative authorities started to take a closer look and scrutinized potential operational inadequacies in the assisted living facilities (ALF) industry.

When investigators started sleuthing for improprieties at ALFs, the senator exercised her legislative role and co-wrote a law to bar such oversight. According to The Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo, “Facing reforms, the ALF industry fought back with the help of Rep. Campbell. She co-sponsored legislation to deny public access to the state-kept list of troubled ALFs. Without access to the information, The Herald would not have been able to document the abuse of the elderly in state care.”

Running interference when/where she has special interests and economic flow at stake? It didn’t matter after all. Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) took out his veto pen and nixed her bill.

Connections and Power

Florida Power & Light has almost five million accounts in Florida, and a few may be on the short-list regarding service. Incidentally, it was also reported today that FPL lobbyists “ghost-wrote laws” making it illegal to use solar power during a power outage.

Another Florida state representative appears cushy with FPL. According to a boingboing.net exposé, “This past April, the Energy and Policy Institute caught an FPL lobbyist straight-up drafting anti-solar laws for Fort Myers state Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R), who also took a $15,000 campaign contribution from FPL this year.” Seems the well of favor runs deep with capitol gains—the political kind.

There is a deep well of controversy swirling around Senator Campbell (and family). From the history we are exposed to from various journalistic sources, it is hard to discount special favors are the norm in the Campbell camp. Abuse of power in more ways than one? What do you think?

Referring to FPL’s John Holley, Sen. Campbell told a Rise: News reporter, “Let me tell you something. This man is phenomenal. He is awesome. He’s great. As soon as I text him an address, you got the light.” Gives a whole new meaning to “clap on, clap off.”

The Miami Herald’s Tallahassee Bureau reporter, Mary Ellen Klas, claims FPL offered a curt retort after hearing Senator Campbell’s self-declaration that she was instrumental in getting power restored for her constituents. FPL’s reply was, “She is mistaken. This is absurd.”

As for serving her constituents: 28 of 33 bills she introduced in her first year as a state senator have “died” in various committees, while four were adopted and one rescinded.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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