Tuesday, June 20, 2006


All of us have probably done something stupid in our younger days, or at least something we regret and hope would be best forgotten. And although we've generally done the right thing and followed the rules in the years since that time, little did we realize that there are some cases where those indiscretions would come back and bite us in the backside.

I have two cases of that today.

First, there is the situation with State Chief Financial Officer and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher. The Tampa Tribune found portions of his 1979 divorce file which included a deposition from a woman who claimed she had an affair with the then-state legislator, and that his wife sought a restraining order after Gallagher broke into their home. He admitted doing so once to take their dog; his wife claimed it was more than once. The judge in Miami-Dade County refused to grant the restraining order in deference to Gallagher's budding political career.

"You’re a public figure,” the judge lectured the 35-year-old state representative. “I do not want to embarrass you by entering an order. That would be a matter of public record."

Gallagher responded, “Yes, sir"

The judge continued: “Listen to my words very clearly: That would be a matter of public record that might be used adversely against you in the future in one of your future campaigns."

Gallagher: “Yes, sir."

The judge: “So do you read me?"

Gallagher has also admitted to reporters smoking marijuana once, although his ex-wife said in the divorce documents that she found cocaine in a drawer in his Tallahassee condo.

"She showed it to Gallagher’s father before flushing it down the toilet, she said.

"That’s the first I ever heard of it,” Gallagher said Monday. He denied ever using cocaine..."

This would not be as juicy, being more than 25 years old, if Gallagher was not working hard at promoting himself --- especially to the religious right --- as a faith-and-family candidate.

And yesterday, I read the story of an Italian native who has lived here for much of his life. He stabbed a man decades ago, served his time, and has lived a quiet, peaceful life since. His crime has never come up; after all, he served his sentence. But now, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are pushing to deport this gentleman for his crime decades ago.

Friends, this should be a reminder that we all have things in our past...

So, does it really matter what someone did 25 or more years ago, if they sincerely regret their action and have stayed out of trouble since? That will be for the voters to decide, but IMHO, it should not, as long as it is not criminal in nature or otherwise disqualifies the individual from serving in public office. In the case of the Italian native, there should be some way to consider his case on it's merits --- the fact that the event occures decades ago, that he served his sentence, and has lived a lawful life since.


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