Sen. Mike Bennett injects politics into LeeSar grand opening and gets it wrong

The opening of the LeeSar regional service center on Winkler Avenue in Fort Myers, Fla. is the kind of news practically anyone, regardless of their political inclinations, would be excited to hear. The facility creates about 100 new jobs in the area, helps to hold down health care costs and already plans to expand, thus creating even more jobs. Here’s NBC-2’s coverage, and Florida Weekly will print a photo spread from the event in next Wednesday’s paper.

It was jarring, at least to this journalist, when former State Senator Mike Bennett took his opportunity at the podium to bash government at an event that up to that point had been a politics-free celebration.

“This is what happens when you get government out of the way,” said Sen. Bennett, pointing to the brand new 205,000 square-foot building. “You can bring a project on time, under budget and that’s what happens when you get government out of the way.”

The problem is, the project received quite a bit of government support to get it off the ground and keep it under budget. The Lee County Industrial Development Authority, which falls under the Lee County Office of Economic Development (government) issued the tax exempt bond. LeeSar has also recieved FIRST Initiative incentive funds from Lee County taxpayers for creating jobs. One can only assume that builders had to work closely with inspectors and plans reviewers in order to turn around the project in a remarkable 12 months — it’s government that issues the Certificate of Occupancy.

Sen. Bennett served the maximum allowable number of years in the Florida Senate and is currently a shoe-in to become the next Supervisor of Elections for Manatee County. Last year, he argued against making it easier for people to vote, citing how hard it is for people in Africa to make it to the polls. According to, he said: “Do you read the stories about the people in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient?” Politifact exposed the line about Africans walking hundreds of miles to be absolute baloney, which is exactly what the former senator’s comments at the LeeSar grand opening were as well.

ImageState Senator Mike Bennett


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