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The Full Funding of Half Truths

Disrupting Disinformation: Part I

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On May 31, my current opponent, Kevin Van Ostenbridge, jumped out of his Dist 3 race and into my at-large race. I called this from the dais back in October. After three generations of living in the district and four years of representing its residents, the polls showed he had zero chance of winning. While I think this is very telling for the residents of the other four districts, it’s more telling about how he came into this race.

Flush with endless cash from about 7-10 special interests that NEED him on the board more than any other person to push their agenda, he had two options. One was to use that war chest to introduce himself and his record to the majority of the county. The other was to attack me endlessly in hopes of leaving himself as the “best worst option." That’s essentially their playbook, so, of course, he went with option #2.

Before qualifying even ended, over $50,000 of air time was bought to run an attack ad entirely devoid of facts. Almost humorously so. Their syndicate has been teeing this up for over a year. Meticulously wasting taxpayer funds and staff time to stage votes and make pointless statements just to frame attacks around. His handlers can’t have a lone vote of contention up on the board they paid good money for. I had to be gone and the plan was put in motion…poorly.

As he can’t run on any fact-based record, the assumption is the baseless attacks will continue until August 20. I am not going to waste my time chasing lies for six weeks when I can better spend my time speaking with you. Therefore, I have decided to start this election series with clarifying all the attacks they’ll manufacture and throw at me and my supporters in one consolidated substack.

I have added a little game at the end for all of us to pass the time as we get through this insanity.

So let’s get started…

I’m a liberal RINO infiltrating the County

The broadest of their attacks is that I’m a liberal, communist, democrat, RINO, whatever term they have on hand at that time. Of course, they’re throwing that out at literally anyone who doesn’t support their bought team of incompetent candidates and blindly agreeing with everything they do and say. So I’m in good company.

Their definition of “conservative” is so warped at this point that it’s lost all meaning. They have fought tax cuts, spent your hard-earned money freely on pork projects they can campaign on, grown government to stratospheric levels and weaponized their power against their residents and your voice. No self-respecting Republican would want to be associated with whatever brand of “conservative” these people are.

They throw out red meat and photoshop themselves next to federal and state figures in an attempt to pretend they’re both conservative and important. In both 2020 and 2022, the voters were conned into believing that being “like minded” on federal issues outside the control of the county commission would translate into electing local officials that would govern along the lines that best serve you. I think we all know how that turned out. That’s a proven failed playbook yet they’re trying again with their fake websites, fake “media” and attempts at shouting down any dissention as “liberal”. It’s almost embarrassing now.

They further try to claim that any news is liberal if they don’t bow down to their corrupt and destructive actions. Even The Observer, by far the most conservative paper in town, was called the “liberal media” in their pathetic TV ad for daring to have an opinion different than theirs.

I  hate Governor DeSantis and love Election Interference

Fun fact: I was the ONLY commissioner to attend Governor DeSantis’s inauguration in January 2023. I still have a bobblehead of the Governor on my desk at the office.

However, I’m not a member of a cult and I don’t blindly believe every single thing a politician does is correct. I fully believe the Governor made a huge mistake appointing our current Supervisor of Elections over a far more experienced and qualified candidate in Scott Farrington. I would venture to guess 99% of informed Manatee County residents feel the same way. So, to them, you also hate Governor DeSantis.

Now that we’re left with this lesser choice in a Supervisor, we need to give him the same critical view as all others. He came in recently and asked for an exorbitant increase in his budget with zero supporting information to justify spending your tax dollars. The rest of the board had no problem handing over your money because the Governor’s “pick” knows best. I fundamentally disagree with that.

It’s these appointments and mistakes that effect all residents of Manatee County. These are nonpartisan issues that need the voice of the entire electorate. The other side has no problem filing fake ghost candidates as write-ins to lock down primaries so they can use their “more conservative than you” playbook. They call that “strategy”. When we recommend non-Republicans change their party to have a voice in the governing of their county, it’s called “election interference”. Their playbook only works if they can con the furthest right of the base. If others start paying attention, they have no counter for that.

If you would like a say in any of these primaries, and you’re not currently registered as a Republican, you can click here and do so by July 22!

Who’s Increasing Your Fees?

Their tv ad only made one factual statement. I did, in fact, vote to increase water and trash rates. Our utility bonds were going to imminently default if we didn’t increase our water rates after so many years of keeping them flat as interest rates rose. Our trash contract had long since expired and new rates were a result of 12 years of non-increases under the old contract.

What wasn’t exactly factual is that I wasn’t the only one to make those hard but necessary votes. In March 2023, water rates were increased in a 6-1 vote. Also voting to increase your water rates…Kevin. In August 2023, trash rates were increased in a 7-0 vote. Also voting to increase your trash rates…Kevin.

But they’ll continue saying I’m pushing to “increase fees”. What they’re really talking about are IMPACT FEES. I have 100% pushed to increase these fees which the rest of the board has held back to your detriment for far too long. I’ll readily admit to that and I’ll venture a guess, unless you’re on Kevin’s financial statement, you’re on my side too.

What they won’t mention regarding fees is the millage cuts I motioned for all three times it passed. Or the transit fare cuts I proposed and the board just unanimously extended. Or the residential permits fees I’ve been working to cut to keep you from having to be nickled and dimed over changing your front door or replacing your garage door.

What they also won’t mention is the boat ramp launch fees mentioned by my opponent. Or the new paid parking he’s currently working on out at your beach. Those are apparently more acceptable than impact fees because they’re being charged to YOU.

The board has made sure to push Resolutions that do nothing other than give more power to the board just to set up fake attack ads. They weren’t worth the paper they were written on but neither are their mailers.

I’m Pro-Choice and Pro-Planned Parenthood

On July 25, 2023, a motion was made to authorize the county attorney to write a resolution “prohibiting County funds being used to fund Planned Parenthood or any abortion provider or fund any services for abortion”. That motion passed unanimously, with me voting in favor.

However, on September 12, 2023, the authorized resolution came back substantially different. Which is odd since the attorney was required to adhere to the motion made. The new resolution didn’t focus on abortion, it focused on weaponizing nonprofit funding to any “affiliate” of Planned Parenthood. When asked, the attorney couldn’t define affiliate and asked to table the vote because it was incorrectly written. The board refused because, to them, it was written EXACTLY how they wanted it. It gave complete and total power and control to the board to use your taxpayer dollars to intimidate people and organizations, their favorite things to do.

“Affiliates” would include any group that even refers low income women for basic medical needs. This would include Turning Points, United Way, Manatee Memorial and many, many others including religious-based groups. I know of one nonprofit who refused to submit for funding this year for fear that they’d be forced to refund ten years of funding if it was shown they refer uninsured women for mammograms to Planned Parenthood in Sarasota.

I will not allow your government to grow and consolidate power at your expense or the expense of our nonprofits over ideological resolutions. I voted in favor of banning funding for abortions. I’m not going to vote in favor of banning funding for hard working and necessary organizations in our community because they direct people to low-cost medical care.

I’m Also Anti-Second Amendment

Another resolution, which passed for absolutely no reason other than to prove how “conservative” the board pretends to be, was making Manatee County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County”, whatever that means. This was passed on March 28, 2023. Even Sarasota County, an all-Republican board, failed to pass this worthless resolution when it was presented.

If you can tell me one, just one, gun law or gun ownership benefit you’ve realized in our county since March 2023 that would not have been possible without this historic document, please message me. I’d love to hear it.

Even though it provides absolutely no benefit to you other than wasting your money writing it, I was still on the record of being willing to vote in favor of it. However, I researched cities and counties all over the state and the country. All their resolutions, other one small county, were substantially similar with the exception of a few extra words that made this an issue. With these, not only would the resolution do absolutely nothing for you, but it potentially cost you even more money.

A half sentence was added that read that Manatee County “will legally defend against laws seeking in any way to jeopardize, diminish, or impair such rights.” It was giving this and future board the right to use your tax dollars to sue the federal and state government if a board decided it didn’t like a law. I was not going to give your dollars over to ideological warriors to lose in court just to pander to their base. Therefore, I voted no.

Ironically, the only vote that came up that actually affected second amendment rights was three months later when a motion was made to allow county employees to arm themselves under concealed permit carry. This one actually did do something for gun rights…and I voted yes.

I Support George Soros-backed Groups

If you supported saving our wetlands rather than turning them over to be destroyed by developers looking to maximize profits, you’re a communist.

This vote to gut our wetland buffers was one of the worst in my time on this board. The blatant disregard for the public and for facts was astounding. Trying to cover this malfeasance by tying every member of the bipartisan opposition and the Suncoast Waterkeepers to George Soros and calling them communists was the weakest attempt at sticking with their playbook we’ve seen.

Just remember, if you were for sensible development, for improved water quality protection and against this sham of a vote, then they’re attacking you as well.

I’m Anti-Small Business

I’m against small businesses and I tried to bankrupt two upstanding pillars of our community back in 2021. Let’s forget that the rest of this board stole a beach market and hurt small businesses. Let’s forget that my family ran a small business in Manatee County for thirty years and I’ve run two.

This narrative is entirely focused on my swing vote (passed 4-3 after many tries over the years) to enact a retail pet ban in Manatee County and stop stores from selling puppy mill dogs in our county, just like all the counties surrounding us successfully passed.

In 2023, flush with donations from Petland, the new board overturned that vote. We now have a third “small business” pushing puppies in Manatee County since they can’t operate anyplace else.

I am unapologetic about my vote in 2021. The Retail Pet Ban was important to our community and the right decision. If these stores can’t figure out the business plan of other pet stores unless they sell animals, then they deserve to be out of business. I have made, and will continue to make, a push at the state level to enact a statewide ban if we can’t get it done locally.

However, if I ever get three more votes on this board, I will not hesitate to once again pass this ban. Sorry three small businesses.

Throwing Sh*t Against the Wall

They’ll also try to throw any random attack against the wall to see what sticks as they have been.

I pushed the Green New Deal in Manatee County…because I moved to make transit free. It’s a highly successful program the board just voted unanimously to extend past its pilot program.

I was removed as Port Chair…because I wouldn’t ignore the Coast Guard and publicly give information I neither had nor was authorized to disseminate. Of course, they did a big grandstanding meeting for it and Kevin even verbally attacked two members of the Coast Guard for show. After being replaced, the oil spill lasted longer under my replacement, then commissioner, now selected SOE Satcher, and we never got a single update. Of course, it was never about the information.

I want your kids to be run over!?! In February, the rest of the board handed a lucrative no-bid contract to a company for school zone cameras. I’m as curious as you all are about the connections that company had. Either way, you’re losing out as a result. We held off for over six months after the bill was signed to have the conversation but we couldn’t have possibly held off 60 days to ensure we had the best partnership with the best return to the taxpayers. Apparently, those two months would have been a bloodbath in the streets.

I’m apparently anti-Christian. This is an odd one considering my opponent is a self-proclaimed atheist and I was raised Catholic, went through all the sacraments, attended Cardinal Mooney Catholic School, regularly attend Woodland Church, attend small groups and Joy FM is pretty much the only channel on in my car. I can only assume it has to do with questioning the credibility of any of the supposed preachers that populate our current or past boards. Who knows anymore. Bless their hearts.

Then, the grand finale. They will veer away from policy-related attacks and do what they can to convince you to ignore my time ON the board working for your voice, and get you to vote against me for my time OFF the board. They do this every cycle and this will be no different. Admittedly, I set them up with two good ones, even if they’re a bit dated.

I Had an Affair

As pretty much everyone knows, I made a mistake almost four years ago. I publicly admitted to it from the dais. They didn’t want me to make it public. I realize now that they weren’t looking out for my best interests. They were looking out for their own information they didn’t want public until they could use it themselves. I don’t make excuses for this and it’s on me. I don’t deny it. Anyone who knows us personally knows that we’re in a much better place now as a marriage and as a family. They can say whatever they’d like about it because it won’t affect our lives if they chose to drop to that level to protect their bagman I’m running against.

I Had a VERY Public Car Accident

Literally everyone knows about my car accident in April 2022, over two years ago. I discussed it on my recent podcast with The Bradenton Times. You can listen to it here. I would encourage you to listen to it in its entirety, but this particular portion is at the end, starting around 1:10.

I’m not going to attempt to convince you or anyone else of anything. Everyone in this community, and around the world, made up there minds long ago. This was dragged through the news and social media for 14 months. The video is everywhere and you can search for it on YouTube and find many versions of it. All of those versions will still not have the first three minutes that were inexplicably redacted showing that I was knocked unconscious with head trauma and a serious concussion.

Nevertheless, you’ll see this video over and over again. They already repushed it on YouTube not long ago. Ironically, they used an anti-law enforcement, cop-hating account to boost it. They don’t care. As long as it gets in front of you again. You’ll see it on social. You’ll see it on a website. You’ll probably see it on panel trucks driving around town. They can’t campaign on policy or integrity so they’ll always resort to the lowest common denominator. As I said earlier, they don’t need my opponent to be the best option; just the least worst option in your minds.

I won’t relitigate this incident. I can’t do anything about events that occurred in the past or the community’s perception of those event. I can only learn from them and look forward.

As I said on the podcast, there’s always a question of what it would be like to hear your own eulogy when you die. I got to hear mine due to this accident. I heard the perception of me. I saw the outrage against me. I spoke with people in our community and outside of it who were impacted by drunk driving. I took these to heart.

I reevaluated my life with sincerity. I made a renewed vow to focus on doing the right things for the right reasons. I reprioritized my family and my community. I found a renewed focus on the church. I decided even the perception was not worth the reputation and I needed to set a better example for my kids. I significantly cut back drinking early in this situation, have not had a single drink since July 22, 2023 and I’ve actively spoken with others and counselled them on similar actions.

Regardless of how they attempt to frame this, or how any voters’ perception of me changes as a result, I know I’m a substantially better person today as a result of April 2022. I can’t change the past. But I’ve made every effort to change the future. I believe anyone who knows me will agree, April 20, 2022 was the worst day of my life until I changed my mindset and allowed it be become one the best day of rest of my life.

I will leave the judgment and the determination of whether this is worthy of losing your vote up to you. Everyone can make up their own minds and I respect that. All I can do is move ahead, hopefully as the commission you’ve known since April 2022 and not the person you perceived me to be on that fateful and unfortunate day.

So there you have the first of my Disrupting Disinformation posts for uninformed voters.

Next week, I’ll go into a breakdown of policy decisions and the votes that were made that impact this election.

The following week, we’ll discuss exactly what is at stake in 2024 for Manatee County.

Remember, the last day to change party and/or register is July 22. Early voting starts August 10. Primary Day is August 20!

Only six more weeks of madness and mailers!

But, as promised above, I do want to make sure you have something to do this election that is actually fun.

   

I have made you all a Bingo card with all the baseless, half-truth attacks that will come from my opponent, his fake account proxies, his fake media sites and his handler. Let’s see if we can mark them all off before August 20!

 

George Kruse is the District 7 (at-large) Manatee County Commissioner. He faces the incumbent District  3 commissioner, Kevin Van Ostenbridge in the Republican primary.

Comments

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  • EPG2002

    This is excellent and I appreciate your honesty. However, if you want to fully come clean, why don't you tell us about the process that led to your becoming a candidate for the County Commission in the first place. Who suggested you run for office? Whose ring did you have to kiss? What promises did you have to make? Who funneled money to your campaign and how? And tell us about your discussions with Pedicini and other political consultants on the messaging for your campaign. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Until the deep rot in Manatee County politics is completely exposed, it will continue to spread.

    Wednesday, July 10 Report this

  • writerlynn9717

    Thanks for your statement. I already had figured much of this out from different news outlets. I am voting for you, and I changed my party just to vote KVO out and James Satcher. As crazy as it is, I plan on double checking that my vote is counted online. Don't trust Satcher as far as I could throw him to do the right thing at SOE right now because of his far right extremism. He has said similar things from the Dias as KVO about the Manatee County citizens and he said them in the debate with Farrington at the Republican meeting. The video of KVO is just disgustingly partisan and outrageous. How do these conspiracy theorists get elected? The people who protested taking away wetland barrier at the MCC meeting are environmentalists, tree huggers, some are scientists, sports fisherman, and everyday citizens who are trying to save our water quality and nature here in Manatee County. The citizens who protested were also of both political partiesand all are very concerned about the ecology and the destruction of it going on here. Please keep up your hard work on behalf of keeping our county's resources, like wetlands, reasonably safe in this what seems over-development period. And, you are winning in your personal challenges as obvious from your appearance, tone, and thoughtful decision making in the MCC meetings. Vote for George Kruse!

    Wednesday, July 10 Report this

  • attybarber

    Kruse was happy taking their money, drinking their booze and doing their bidding until they cut him off after his “accident”. Thus, I am skeptical about his rebirth as the people’s hero. See Bradenton Times articles about his hot messes. But, he is definitely a better candidate than KVO. None of the present BOCC set a very high bar, however. I hear one comment consistently from people on both sides and I can agree with them no matter what their alphabet letter or mine may be - Is this the best we can do?

    Wednesday, July 10 Report this

  • NA74

    Vote Kruse.

    Only person on our Commission worth keeping. The rest need to be shown the door.

    Sunday, July 14 Report this