Seminole gets shady


photo by Bethany Barker

Laura Shaw’s column is a recurring column where she discusses her view of political matters and events both locally and nationally.

If you think national politics can get messy, you obviously have not taken a glimpse of the everyday drama happening in Seminole County. Currently, the most relevant, and ever developing story, involves disgraced former tax collector Joel Greenberg. Greenberg has been in a daily rotation of local news sites ever since he was first fired and charged with federal stalking charges and identity theft back in June. The charges claim he assumed the identity of his opponent online and falsely accused that opponent of racism and molesting a child in a letter to a school. 

This headline alone might sound like something off of a scandalous Netflix show, but it gets better…or more accurately, much worse. 

Since the initial charges, Greenberg has racked up a whopping 12 federal charges including sex trafficking, using the state Driver And Vehicle Information Database (DAVID) to look up information about minors, creating fake IDs, stealing others (from constituents) for said minors and then engaging in “sugar daddy” relationships with them.

In addition to creating a real life episode of Law and Order SVU, Greenberg also quietly settled a lawsuit against himself by a former employee, immediately before he resigned, that accused him of violating the Family Medical Leave Act for racially charged reasons. Minaz Mukhi-Skees, a Muslim woman, filed the lawsuit in October 2017 after she was fired three days after returning from maternity leave.  

The precedent for these charges revolve around previous comments from Greenberg that he posted on social media. “Very simple question, name just one society in the developed world that has benefited in any way from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend.”

Connecting the dots, it seems like Greenberg was accused of everything he falsely accused his opponent of, which got him into this mess in the first place. Either karma acted all at once, Greenberg’s record finally caught up to him or both. 

But Greenberg is not the only politician with shady actions clouding them. This might be the most shocking turn of events in local politics right now, but with the upcoming general election it doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything else going on in the community. Senate District 9 is a messy race that has garnered national attention.  Democratic opponent Patricia Sigman has multiple questionable groups criticizing her for accepting money from the Florida Democratic Party that could include money meant to help small businesses. Sigman has denied these claims stating that FDP returned said money and as a labor and unemployment lawyer she would never accept such cash. While on the other end, the Republican candidate Jason Brodeur is currently being condemned for his connections to white supremacist group the Proud Boys, previous ‘anti-gay’ legislation and even the legitimacy of his candidacy due to him claiming homestead exemptions on two homes. Brodeur has dodged all questions regarding these topics and refuses to go into detail regarding his homestead situation, stating in recent debates he “sought the advice of [his] property appraiser and acted on that advice.”

We all have a relative understanding of backhand deals in DC within the political system but what we fail to acknowledge is so much of these things also happen within our local races. The importance of these positions only become more and more relevant as these things come out, another reason that we need to be paying attention and voting.