FORMER POLK COUNTIAN RUNS FOR OFFICE WITH FIVE FELONIES
While running through the day's editorial pages to search for endorsements, I came across this interesting article in today's Fort Myers News Press. A former Lakeland area resident who relocated to Lehigh Acres is running for a seat on the town's Fire Control and Rescue District Board of Commissioners, although he pleaded guilty or no contest to five felony counts while living here during the 1990s.
Robert Anderson pleaded nolo contendre (Remember that from the Nixon-Watergate period?) to a count of grand theft in 1998 after stealing nearly $8,900 from his employer. Anderson paid restitution in full.
Before this case, Anderson had pled guilty in 1994 for one count of organized fraud and again the following year to three counts of obtaining property by worthless checks. He was sentenced to five years probation in each case.
So how can he run for a public office after all this? The state's Office of Executive Clemency restored Anderson's civil rights on Oct. 1, 2004, allowing him to vote and hold public office.
Since moving to the eastern Lee County community, Anderson has been a political activist, forming a PAC and using it's website to attacks local agencies, civic groups, and politicians for a variety of reasons. The site includes a picture of a Lee County commissioner that changes into a weasel, and a member of a local water board said he has a problem with how Anderson gets down and dirty against his critics.
"He doesn't just try to destroy them politically, he tries to destroy them personally," [Desmond] Barrett said. "He's learning his lesson. Unfortunately, he deserves whatever he gets."
Anderson said that while some may not like his tactics, he does what he does to generate community discussion.
"If they hate me or love me, it doesn't matter," he said.