The deceptions (or confusions) of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have caught up to him at last, and may spell the end of his political career.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint against the Florida senator Thursday, at a time when he’s facing a tough reelection battle against the current Florida Republican governor, Rick Scott.
Nelson has held elective office for 46 years, nearly 40 of them on Capitol Hill, so a Nov. 6 defeat would deal a severe blow to the Democratic Party while it’s trying to regain control of the Senate.
The overexcited reactions began early this month when Nelson threw a Hail Mary pass at a time when polls were starting to trend against him. By all accounts it was intercepted and Scott will likely run it all the way downfield for a touchdown in November.
Nelson, 75, claimed that Russian operatives had "penetrated" parts of Florida’s voting system in preparation for the 2018 midterms, a claim that eventually prompted FACT’s complaint. "Nelson’s statements were not simply political remarks, but declarative statements about an issue extremely important to citizens and implicating the validity of our elections," FACT's letter said, according to The Washington Free Beacon. "Nelson made these declarations with the authority and credibility of the Senate, which has access to classified information not made available to the public."
Nelson made his allegations to a Tampa-area newspaper at a campaign event. "They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times.
When the Times asked Nelson when Russians were interfering with Florida’s election system — 2016 or "right now" — Nelson replied, "right now."
He added, "that's classified," when asked for more information. He also indicated that the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked him to relay that information to the supervisors of election in Florida.
The week after he made this stunning claim, early primary voting opened in many Florida counties.
His Republican opponent called Nelson out. "This cannot be swept under the rug," Scott said. "Bill Nelson must come clean and provide a thorough explanation. Elections are not something to try to scare people about."
Meanwhile, state officials were totally in the dark — they had no idea what Nelson was even talking about.
Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, indicated that the agency "has received zero information from Senator Nelson or his staff that support his claims."
She added that her agency received no information of Russian hacking from any other federal or state authority.
"If Senator Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida," she added.
Meanwhile, Gov. Scott continued pressuring Nelson with demands to explain his Russian hacking claims — and the Nelson camp responded with silence.
Scott said Nelson “can’t hide forever and Floridians deserve an explanation now.”
Later, the senator was recorded saying that Russians had compromised Florida elections in the past, and he assumed they would do so again in the current election season.
“it would be foolish to think that if they were in the election records in 2016, that they are not continuing,” Nelson said in the video, posted Aug. 15 by the GOP war room.
Shortly after Nelson made his hacking allegation in Tampa, the Senate Leadership Fund concluded the Florida Democrat was possibly "no longer dealing from a full deck."
The Washington Post apparently thought the Senate Leadership Fund was being too kind. It examined the facts and gave Nelson’s false claims four Pinocchios.
NBC News later reported that according to its own sources, there could be "a classified basis" to support Nelson’s claims. The senator clutched it like a drowning swimmer to a life ring.
"Breaking — NBC News: Bill Nelson wasn't making things up when he said Russians hacked Florida election systems,” he tweeted.
But that just made it all the worse. If true, he just admitted to publishing information he shouldn’t have." This is... not something the senator should be cheering," observed The Washington Free Beacon’s Alex Griswold. "If true, he revealed classified intelligence in a public hearing."
Now he’s one of three things, none of them good: He’s either lying, not playing with a full deck, or he’s a leaker of classified intelligence.
Whether Nelson was dazed, dumb, or deceptive, it now looks as though Sen. Marco Rubio may be joined by a fellow Florida Republican senator on Capitol Hill. The latest FAU poll has Scott surging past Nelson by six points.
If that’s the case, Nelson’s own words and the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust will have left him totally "FACTed."
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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