YOUR OPINION: Beholden to No One, Bryan Lober Best Choice For Brevard County Commission District 2

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YOUR OPINION: Nick Tomboulides

Bryan Lober, above, is the Republican candidate for Brevard County Commission District 2. Lober is facing Democrat candidate Victoria Mitchner in the General Election on Nov. 6.

“Lober has refused, under any circumstances, to accept even a dime of outside money. Lober wants his constituents to know he will be their voice and never beholden to special interests.”

One cannot attend a Democratic Party event these days without hearing speakers who denounce lobbyists and outside money in politics. But are Democratic candidates practicing what they preach?

In the District 2 race for Brevard County Commission, the answer is a resounding no.

Democrat Victoria Mitchner is the only candidate in her race who is openly raising money from millionaire megalobbyists.

Last Tuesday, Mitchner hobnobbed for cash at the beachside mansion of Guy Spearman, whose paydays for peddling influence would have the founding fathers rolling in their graves. Also attending and raising money for Mitchner were Kendall Moore and Kathryn Rudloff, who lobby aggressively for taxpayer-backed economic development.

While Mitchner mingled, her Republican opponent Bryan Lober was out knocking on doors and campaigning the old-fashioned way. That’s because Lober has refused, under any circumstances, to accept even a dime of outside money. Lober wants his constituents to know he will be their voice and never beholden to special interests.

Far too often, when we think of political corruption, our minds imagine the classic image of a “bagman,” a shadowy figure bribing politicians in exchange for favors.

But experts say modern corruption has taken on a more sophisticated form, most often occurring legally and out in the open.

WATCH: Sheriff Wayne Ivey Endorses Bryan Lober for Brevard County Commission District 2 SeatRelated Story:
WATCH: Sheriff Wayne Ivey Endorses Bryan Lober for Brevard County Commission District 2 Seat

In his book Republic Lost, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig explains “dependence corruption,” the idea that donors and public officials come to rely on each other through reciprocal gifts, even though nothing is expressly promised in either direction.

“The most significant and powerful forms of corruption today are precisely those that thrive without depending upon quid pro quos for their effectiveness,” Lessig writes.

In this arrangement, well-heeled special interests provide financial support to lawmakers as a means of enticing them to support specific policies. Generally, these policies aren’t favored by the community or citizens at large, but rather — demanded by a narrow group of insiders. This is precisely why voters should be concerned about Mitchner’s ties to lobbyists.

For Republican voters, the influence of lobbyists like Spearman is an assault on our free market principles. Conservatives believe businesses should sink or swim on their merits, rather than receive special favors from government. When government uses our tax dollars to pick winners and losers, it distorts the market and deprives small businesses of a fair shake.

But corporate welfare is also a slap in the face to those who consider themselves progressive. When revenues are spent on cronyistic handouts to a small handful of beneficiaries, social and environmental priorities get left behind.

Conservatives and progressives both benefit when government stops writing checks to power brokers and starts working for the betterment of our community. That’s not a Republican agenda or a Democratic agenda; it is a common sense agenda.

This is what fundamentally separates Bryan Lober from Victoria Mitchner in the District 2 race. By not taking campaign cash, Lober will owe no favors. He will be capable of exercising independent and discerning judgment on every issue before the Commission.

For Mitchner, maintaining a fair approach will be more challenging. Like all politicians, she will eventually face a time when her constituents and her funders want opposite outcomes. We have seen that scenario play out often enough to know it is rarely the lobbyists who don’t get their way.

If District 2 residents want a candidate who is — as James Madison said — “dependent on the people alone,” they should vote for Bryan Lober.

Nick Tomboulides is the Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Brevard.

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