July 27, 2022

Billy Townsend: Why Jeb Bush Became A DeSantis Backer.

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Billy Townsend keep a close eye on Florida shenanigans. Here he explains why, despite DeSantis’s apparent attacks on Bush programs, Jeb is backing DeSantis on the national stage. Reposted with permission

What is the Ron DeSantis MGT Consulting/Florida DoE/Jefferson County charter school scandal? Here’s a very condensed, very brief, step-by-step summary:

A bunch of powerful charter school grifters hailing mostly from Hialeah/Miami and closely connected to the Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio political machines did the following to rural, Trump-voting Jefferson County, 460 miles away:

  1. Legally stole Trump-voting, rural, northwest Florida Jefferson County’s public schools five years ago.
  2. Privatized them to charter, run by then-Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah’s employer, the Academica company. Thanks to Sen. Diaz, his employer Somerset/Academica received much more funding than the Jefferson elected school had ever received to run the schools.
  3. Ruined the schools.
  4. Abandoned the community after five years; and then blamed the Trump-voting people of Jefferson County for Academica’s catastrophic performance.
  5. Tried to sabotage the return of the schools to the Trump-voting community and make more money off Trump-voting Jefferson by steering a gross contract for “transition services” to MGT Consulting, which is like the “vampire squid” of Florida consultants. MGT is run by former Florida legislator and close Marco Rubio ally Trey Traviesa. This last part, the MGT bid, appears to run very very afoul of Florida bid-rigging laws, as reported by Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos.
  6. Then Ron DeSantis covered up the MGT part of the scandal and appointed Manny Diaz as Commission of Education.

Put a pin that for a second. We’ll come back to it.

What Trump did to Jeb in 2016

For at least two generations, the Bushes weaponized the grievances of Donald Trump’s most vulnerable voters — like those in rural Jefferson County, Florida — to advance their family dynasty, Big Capital, and the interests of all American elites.

At the same time, the Bushes marketed a patrician distance from those same voters. Sympathetic mass media willfully mistook this for class, elegance, and manners.

What did these Trump voters get in return for serving the Bush family dynasty? Their communities and economic life crippled, their public schools killed, and Clarence Thomas/Sam Alito.

By 2016, they had caught onto the scam a bit. And Donald Trump got visceral payback for all the years of condescension.

Trump humiliated and emasculated Jeb Bush (and the larger cross-partisan “education reform” movement) over education policy — without knowing anything about education policy. He just said the almost forgotten words “Common Core” over and over again. I won’t lie; it was sort of glorious — and history-alteringly important.

It also helped get me elected in a landslide on the same night as Trump in a reddish Trump-voting county. (Serious essay on that vertigo here.)

JebSantis is Jeb’s revenge

Now Jeb is taking counter revenge on Trump through Ron DeSantis. And Ron DeSantis is using Jeb (and other establishment Republicans) to knife Trump, who fathered DeSantis in every meaningful public sense. It’s all pretty Shakespearean, as I’ve already noted in a previous article.

You can see Jeb’s revenge below.

The content of Jeb’s tweet and Time essay are nonsensical fantasies. Floridians can’t afford Florida because of low wages and property insurance; and Jeb-world has given us America’s worst state-run education system, along with Jeb’s unspeakably awful network of segregated “public” voucher schools. (Also, the “Beltway crowd” reference is hilarious from the ultimate inheritance baby son and brother of two presidents — one of whom is the worst in American history, Trump included.)

But content, accuracy, and self-awareness aren’t what matters here for Jeb; payback matters. That’s what this is: payback. It’s aimed at helping DeSantis knife Trump, not “libs.”

Indeed, Jeb’s undeserved reputation for class and manners is crucial to making DeSantis — who is neither normal nor respectable — more appealing to normal, respectable people who have Trump fatigue.

Jeb provides permission for the civic “libs” and “RINOs” and corporate capital and the “Beltway crowd” writ large to look past DeSantis’ manifold corrupt, personal dictator tendencies.

Test pro quo? And why did DeSantis cover up Jeb-world’s massive bid-rigging, education, and government scandal?

Jeb snuggled up to DeSantis despite DeSantis recently trashing — in rhetoric — Jeb’s beloved, useless, high stakes standardized tests, which are the sine qua non of Jeb’s corrupt education privatization life’s work.

Predictably, DeSantis has now ordered much more high stakes standardized testing in Florida under the guise of an as-yet unimplemented state “progress monitoring” system. And I suspect that operational fact helps account for Jeb’s loving tweet and essay.

I wonder if this Jeb tweet/essay also helps explain why DeSantis decided to cover up the DoE/Jefferson/MGT scandal I’ve written so much about. Click the link below for exhaustive detail:

Public Enemy Number 1
The Florida/DeSantis/DoE Jefferson corruption scandal: a cheat sheet of important players and timeline of reporting, dating to “Failure Factories”
Florida’s DoE/Jefferson County scandal is a comprehensive Florida Model education scandal, from top-to-bottom. It reveals and culminates a 25-year reign of vile, soulless cynicism and exploitation of children, teachers, and communities by people like Florida Charter School Alliance lobbyist Ralph Arza and his even more powerful patrons in Jeb Bush’s edu…

Read more

DoE/MGT/Jefferson started as a Jeb-world scandal far more than a DeSantis scandal.

DeSantis sort of willfully inherited it from: 1) Richard Corcoran (Marco Rubio’s old chief of staff turned disgraced Florida Speaker of the House and Education Commissioner) 2) the dictates of Jeb’s education foundation, which remains Florida’s long-standing education “deep state.”

Jeb-world is the only surviving independent Republican power base in DeSantis’ Florida — the only part of the Florida Republican Party DeSantis hasn’t utterly reduced to groveling Wormtails.

So why wouldn’t DeSantis crush that independent base and burn a cabal of potential rivals for dominance in Florida’s absurd government? It’s all right there for him; and nothing matters to DeSantis but cold self-interest and personal power. I’ve never understood why he would protect them.

The cover-up means DeSantis now owns Ralph Arza and the whole scandal

Indeed, DeSantis himself once savaged and banished a key Jeb-world player in the DoE/MGT/Jefferson scandal — the famous racist criminal witness tamperer and charter school lobbyist Ralph Arza, back in his 2018 governor’s race.

But that’s long forgotten. Why?

Maybe it’s because Arza’s very-connected Florida Charter School Alliance is full of board members who are made men and women in Jeb-world’s education privatization mafia. One of Arza’s charter lobbying bosses, Patricia Levesque, actually runs Jeb’s Foundation. These Jeb-world mandarins do not entertain or answer questions about Arza.

Whatever the reason, covering up DoE/MGT/Jefferson and appointing key scandal and Jeb-world adjunct figure Manny Diaz as Education Commissioner means DeSantis now fully owns this scandal — if anyone can make him own it.

“End the cover up, Ron!” – Let me explain how to weaponize this, Trump, very slowly and simply.

It is probably too late for you, Trump, to beat JebSantis with DoE Jefferson/MGT, or anything.

I think the July 21 Capitol Lynch Mob hearing — and specifically your pathetic video outtakes on Jan. 7 — put the final dagger in you as a bloated orange going concern by showing you as the weakling you are. JebSantis wants you out of the way; and I think you’re too weak to stop them.

But maybe I’m wrong. I’ve been wrong before. Keep hope alive. And even if you can’t win, you can kamikaze JebSantis and get some counter-counter vengeance. Let me explain how.

First, shout this at a rally:

Ron, stop the cover up; put Jeb’s and little Marco’s buddies Ralph Arza, Richard Corcoran, and Trey Traviesa under oath now. Stop protecting them. Make them account for cheating the kids and community of Jefferson County. My great people. Drain the Tallahassee swamp.

You don’t even need to know what it means. But a lot will happen if you just say it, none of it good for JebSantis — or Marco Rubio, to be honest.

That’s because Gov. Ron DeSantis is still actively covering up, to this day, the MGT part of the scandal — even after his spokeswoman Taryn Fenske lied publicly and said DeSantis would order an “all of the above” investigation of, well, all of the above.

I know this, because I am an official complainant, who sought an official investigation that would put key scandal players under oath, including:

  • MGT’s Trey Traviesa, who was also, recently, Florida board chair for the scandal-plagued, high drop out rate, IDEA corporate charter school chain.
  • Disgraced former Florida Speaker and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, who oversaw the entire MGT bid process.
  • Famous racist criminal charter school lobbyist Ralph Arza.
  • Current Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, who was the state senator and Academica employee who helped Corcoran strong-arm the Jefferson schools into a privatization and a revenue source for Academica in 2017. And then blamed the people of Jefferson for Academica’s failures.
  • Department of Education Chancellor Jacob Oliva, who has already been investigated and cleared in an entirely separate wing of the DoE/Jefferson scandal that I’m not even going to bring into play here.
  • Anyone who took part in a Nov. 1, 2021 meeting about Jefferson that we know involved Arza, Traviesa, and as-yet unnamed Department of Education officials that seems to have led to the corrupt bid process.

DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske promised an “all of the above” investigation. It did not happen. None of these powerful people were put under oath. No report was issued about the MGT part of the scandal.

Can you make anybody care about this scandal, Trump? Count Mower’s 8,307 retweets.

Trump, look at the number of retweets on this Twitter thread about the obscure, somewhat complex (but not really) Jeb-world scandal that swindled your people on behalf of JebSantis’ Miami/Hialeah grifters.

Lawrence Mower does a good job summarizing here.

This particular tweet in the thread touches on MGT — Traviesa’s “politically-connected consultant” vampire squid.

If you want a sense of how badly Diaz’s Academica cheated the people of Trump-voting Jefferson County, check out how Academica ducked and ran from JebSantis’ own fraudulent school grade system.

This is from the local news site in Jefferson County, just a few days ago:

In short, Academica, which ran all three Jefferson schools as charters, wouldn’t or couldn’t even produce a district grade on a fraudulent state system that was clearly tweaked this year to avoid producing the lowest grades. Florida’s fraudulent school and district grades always move — every year — in specific, uniform ways that reflect systemic intent. See here.

So much protesting for such a minor little MGT “critical race theory” gotcha story

My dear Trump: MGT is also big into “critical race theory,” as reported recently by Politico.

I’ve been begging Politico to report on DoE/Jefferson/MGT for months. This wasn’t that, exactly — but just the letters “MGT” sent DeSantis’ online minions into a weirdly panicky freak-out demanding corrections for things the article did not say.

And then the meanest, least professional minion in Florida media started whining that Politico’s Matt Dixon was mean to her.

Twitter avatar for @ChristinaPushawChristina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 @ChristinaPushaw

Is this an appropriate or professional tone for a journalist (Matt Dixon, @politicofl) to use with a Deputy Press Secretary who has been nothing but polite and cordial to him?

Bryan Griffin @BryanDGriffin

#2 – This was the reporter’s response to my email. https://t.co/9dZLwTTfFg

It’s all a very weird overreaction. The story wasn’t even that damning as a gotcha if you’re a CRT-hate tweaker. Big corporate government consultant that makes a lot of money off Florida also does CRT stuff elsewhere to make money. Film at 11.

The freakout seems both unwarranted and instructive somehow.

I suspect the instruction is that “MGT” worries DeSantis-world and Jeb-world far more than “CRT.” My guess is that they want to slather anything that brings “MGT” back into public view with pre-emptive fake news slime they could use to try to discredit or intimidate anything that might emerge on DoE/Jefferson or elsewhere.

Based on their public behavior, I continue to think DeSantis and his online minions consider DoE/Jefferson/MGT scandal and cover-up his greatest political vulnerability to Trump — or even Democrats for that matter.

It’s where he has the most personal political exposure — because of the open, already documented official corruption, the open cover-up, and how high it goes.

They may not think he’s very vulnerable; but I see no evidence that any other subject but abortion — or maybe Jason Garcia’s reporting on his consumer tax increases — worries DeSantis at all.

JebSantis: the quiet Floridian

In my observation, the DeSantis silences always speak exponentially louder than his contrived, intentionally divisive, one-way provocations.

And today, DeSantis is equally as silent about keeping abortion legal in Florida and his big consumer tax increase as he is about how and why the famous racist convicted criminal witness tamperer Ralph Arza he once banished now holds a pivotal role in the DeSantis’ administration’s massive MGT/DoE/Jefferson scandal.

If I were going to go Fetterman on DeSantis, I’d gloss him the #thequietfloridian and relentlessly hit everything he doesn’t want to talk about.

To explain/ruin the joke: DeSantis’ whole brand is being loud and brash and shit-posting libs.

So attack the confrontational brand with what also happens to be his objective vulnerability to corruption and fluffing of the elite on behalf of Jeb-world. Make him run like Josh Hawley. DeSantis does run when confronted with a battle he hasn’t stacked and planned.

This could work for FriedCrist or CristFried, too. But I don’t think either of their campaigns has it in them.

You gonna just let JebSantis unmake you, Trump?

I wrote this back on February 9, 2021.

And understand this: Ron DeSantis isn’t really Florida’s governor. Some weird holographic mash-up of Jeb Bush and Donald Trump is. I wouldn’t even waste time arguing with DeSantis. He’s an institutional puppet of Jeb’s education foundation on one hand and an emotional puppet of MAGA on the other.

I got the dynamic here exactly right; but I foolishly underestimated the selfish courage of JebSantis to mash themselves up to eliminate Trump and fully restore elite power under the veneer of fake Trump bullshit.

I tip my hat to both for their audacity. And I especially tip my hat to DeSantis for understanding the abject, self-loathing weakness of his fellow Republicans. DeSantis understands how deeply Florida Republicans crave submission to a dominant “alpha.” That’s his genius. Even with Trump, I didn’t fully grasp how universal that is for the GOP political class.

Now, my dearest Trump, he’s turning that on you — on you. How’s that taste?

You made Ron DeSantis — and unmade Jeb Bush. Now they’re colluding to unmake you. Are you going to let them?

You demolished Jeb once with the universal unpopularity of his education grifting. MGT/DoE/Jefferson provides a “Common Core”-like tool for taking down Jeb and DeSantis together.

Doing so to stop JebSantis from grifting everybody (especially your most vulnerable voters), would be an accidental act of patriotism and service to your country — perhaps the only in your entire life.

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