Political newcomer and multimillionaire businessman Randy Perkins’ entrance into the campaign to succeed Rep. Patrick Murphy has shaken up the dynamics of that race since his November announcement.
First, perceived Democratic front-runner Melissa McKinlay, ended her own bid for the 18th District within weeks of Perkins launching his, citing his ability to self-finance and her desire to continue serving full-time as a member of the Palm Beach County Commission. Then FloridaPolitics.com broke the story that Perkins transferred a million dollars into his campaign account in early December. That was followed by the announcement last week that in addition to his personal donation, Perkins raised over $420,000 for the campaign in a four-week sprint, a fundraising total that most incumbents would be hard pressed to hit.
Perkins seems to be Democrats’ best chance of holding this competitive seat, which Murphy took from Allen West by a hair in 2012 and then held in 2014 by a landslide. A seemingly endless array of Republicans are chomping at the bit to run, including the wife of incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron, Rebecca Negron, and former House member Carl Domino, who partially self-financed his own losing bid against Murphy in 2014.
But in the grand tradition of Florida Democrats biting their nose to spite their face, lawyer Jonathan Chane has been running a grossly negative whisper campaign against Perkins among Democratic activists and donors in the district, previewing the mud he intends to sling at his fellow Democrat in the primary.
Chane welcomed Perkins to the race with an email ominously titled, “outside forces,” that falsely claimed Perkins “switched parties” before entering the race. (Perkins was an NPA until recently, so he had no party from which to switch.) His initial missive went on to attack Perkins for past political contributions to Republicans (which Patrick Murphy was likewise guilty of when he first ran for that seat) while ignoring the fact that Perkins and his company, AshBritt, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes over the years.
Now, insiders in the district are buzzing that Chane has been making the rounds to local DECs and political types spewing rumors and vitriol in private settings while maintaining the veneer of a positive campaign in public. These same insiders are grousing that Chane is playing with a double-edged sword by doing so, as his own professional record is far from a paragon of Democratic values.
Chane has been a corporate defense attorney in Palm Beach for years. During the height of the national mortgage crisis that drove millions of Americans out of their homes through foreclosure, Jonathan Chane represented banks and lenders on nearly 40 separate occasions in foreclosure cases in Palm Beach County Court. Not something that squares too well with his claim to be running for Congress because, “the economic recovery is still leaving many … middle-class families behind.”
The list of banks, lenders and financial services companies that Chane represented reads like a rogues gallery of the most prolific and egregious foreclosers and recipients of government bailouts during the housing crisis: Aurora Loan, Bank of America, Bank of New York, Chase Home Finance, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Lasalle Bank, One West Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo Bank, and Wilmington Trust.
Between 2007 and 2013 (a period in which approximately four million American homes were foreclosed on), Chane represented a foreclosing financial institution 37 times in Palm Beach County courts. The full list of his representations can be found here.
FloridaPolitics.com is the first to report on Chane’s history as a profligate foreclosure lawyer, but you can bet that we won’t be the last. At some point, one of the families that Jonathan Chane is directly responsible for evicting from their home is going to realize he now wants to represent them in congress, and it’s not going to be pretty for his already underdog campaign.
Chane might want to remember the Biblical imperative that it should be those without sin who cast the first stone, especially when you’re casting stones at someone with a virtually unlimited capacity to cast them back tenfold in your direction.