February 2006 Ethics Dunces

Florida Governor Jeb Bush

When you start racking up multiple Ethics Dunce Awards on the Scoreboard, there will be a growing suspicious that it is no accident: you really are one. Florida Governor Jeb Bush has now racked up his second, and this was bad enough to make people doubt his ethics I.Q. all by itself.

Myron Rolle, a star high school football player who was being aggressively recruited by many top football mills (sometimes known as "colleges"), was surprised to receive a text message from Governor Bush. It read:

"I'm excited you're looking at Florida State. T.K. Wetherell and I are friends. When you come to Tallahassee again, let's hook up with each other."

Wetherell is Florida State's president.

It is, of course, unethical for an elected official of Bush's status to use his position in this way, promoting the interests of one state school over others ( the Universities of Florida and Miami were also pursuing Rolle, considered the nation's top high school safety), placing unfair and inappropriate pressure on a young man, and involving himself in the often sleazy world of big-time college athletic recruiting. The Governor may have even violated NCAA rules, if it is determined that Bush was acting as a representative of the school. Bob Minnix, Florida State's associate athletic director for compliance, is preparing a written report.

There's not much more to say about the incident, except that the abuse of power includes using an elected or appointed office's prestige and influence for the narrow interests of favored constituents rather than for the public as a whole. Jeb Bush hasn't figured that out yet, after all his years in the state house.





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