Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower has some good priorities, but he may be held back by some of the folks he calls friends.
Recently, Brower endorsed Lake County firebrand state Rep. Anthony Sabatini in Sabatini’s 2022 bid for Congress.
Brower has apparently voluntarily joined the rogues’ gallery of Sabatini endorsers that includes U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and QAnon stalwart Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Republican Brower won his bid for county chair by appealing to people tired of partisan politics. He won not by campaigning on national issues or professing his undying support for President Trump, but by appealing across the aisle to Volusia residents’ desire to make the county a better place to live, including by protecting our environment.
What do people like Sabatini do best? They use their pulpit to punch down. Spend too much time around partisan bullies like Sabatini and your across-the-aisle appeal may begin to fade.
The bills Sabatini is sponsoring in the current legislative session include telling doctors how they can and can’t treat LGBT youth (HB 211), telling Congress that they need to finish building the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico (HM 231), telling local governments and businesses how they can and can’t mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (HB 75), and telling local law enforcement they can’t seize firearms when a gun owner shows red flags they may harm others.
Like a lot of Republicans who preach the gospel of small government, Sabatini just can’t seem to resist making government larger and more intrusive into other people’s business.
The West Volusia Hospital Authority, for example, has used more than $16,000 in taxpayer dollars to comply with an audit from the Florida Auditor General’s office that was ordered by Sabatini, who does not even live in Volusia County. The audit, which has gone on for over a year — and is only now beginning to approach its conclusion — was ordered by Sabatini when former Hospital Authority Board Member Brian Soukup asked him to investigate.
Asked why he was so interested in going after the WVHA, Sabatini preached his desire to root out “socialized medicine” and what he sees as frivolous government spending.
But ask Rising Against All Odds CEO Brenda Flowers, and she’ll tell you the audit has been unduly focused on asking her agency — which provides HIV testing to homeless and other down-and-out individuals — to divulge information about individual patients that is protected by HIPAA.
That’s all to say nothing of the amount of time Sabatini has spent kvetching about the 2020 election (which he believes was stolen), Black Lives Matter protesters (whom he believes are evil communists) and big tech companies.
In fact, one post of Sabatini’s on big-tech website Twitter.com nearly landed him in hot water with the Florida House — an image he posted of an assault rifle warning “protesters” that they’d see just that if they entered Lake County businesses. This tweet is still up, and his Twitter account is quite active.
There’s a lot to love about Florida, but you’ve got to be careful which partisan cranks you make bedfellows of. Want to really make Volusia County a better place to live? Keep us far away from Anthony Sabatini’s BS.