After being corrected by The Sanford Herald on Sunday for making demonstrably false statements against Sanford City Councilman Chas Post in a letter to the editor, Lee County Commissioner Kirk D. Smith (R-PB&J) on his campaign Facebook page blamed county staff for his mistake and shared two photos that don’t appear to validate his claims.
“As they prepare to make decisions, elected leaders at all levels of government rely on their professional staff to provide them with up-to-date and accurate information. I based my recent letter to The Sanford Herald on just such information provided by our staff. (See attached photos). Needless to say I was wrong,” Smith wrote, adding “Now and in the future, will have to question the validity of information provided by our staff.”
The post follows a letter Smith wrote to The Sanford Herald on Nov. 1 in which he called Post a “crony capitalist” who “enjoys using the taxpayers for personal gain.” Smith went on to write that Post is a member of Tramway One Associates, LLC — he is not — and that he profited from Tramway One Associates being the “landlord” for the recently built VA Clinic on Tramway Road. The LLC sold the land to its current owner in 2015 and is not the landlord of the property.
Sunday, The Sanford Herald published a “clarification” which noted that Smith’s claims were “incorrect.” The Herald also appeared to update its letter to the editor policy to note that “letters that contain a commercial product, contain either libelous material, personal attacks on individuals or vulgar language, and those addressed to a third party will not be published” and that “original claims of fact must be verified before a letter to the editor can be published.”
But the claims by Smith, who is up for re-election tomorrow, that county staff is responsible for his mistake are absurd. First, the photos he provided don’t exonerate him — they show a person who is not Chas Post as a member of an LLC which was in the process of selling land for the purpose of building a medical clinic for veterans. Second, information showing his claims to be false is publicly available, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection and the gumption to look for it.
Smith served part of an appointed term on the board of commissioners a decade ago before resigning. He was duly elected to a full term in the 2012 election. Public office aside, he has long been known in Lee County due to nearly two decades of letters to the Sanford Herald and guest columns on right wing blogs about topics ranging from homosexuals, to something he calls eco-Marxism, to Lee County High School’s Mock United Nations program exposing students to Communism, to “crony capitalism,” to “public education collectives,” to “myrmidons,” and “our dear leader,” (subscription required) and more.
Tomorrow, we find out if he gets another term. If he doesn’t, at least he’ll go out ably representing the party of personal responsibility. Thanks a lot, county staff.