Paul Jacob

Doug Guetzloe is a threat. Since threats must be confronted, contained, or extinguished, people like Guetzloe must be locked away from law-abiding folk.

That, I guess, is the reasoning behind why Mr. Guetzloe was sentenced to jail.

But Guetzloe (pronounced “get-slow”), an Orlando, Florida, anti-tax activist and talk show host, is not a thief, a rapist or a murderer. He doesn’t appear to be any physical or financial threat to you or me, nor to most of his fellow Sunshine Staters.

He is, however, a threat to certain Florida politicians.

In 2006, Citizen Guetzloe premeditatedly communicated with thousands of his fellow citizens by mailing a police report involving David C. Strong, then a candidate for mayor, to approximately 4,000 Winter Park residents. The mailing contained some additional editorial comment, but there was no call to vote for or against any candidate — not that that should matter, of course.

The police report detailed a 1999 criminal complaint against Strong for battery. Apparently upset over his neighbor’s dog defecating in his yard, Strong invited the dog’s owner across the street, picked up the feces and smeared it on his neighbor. (This is the sort of person who seeks a leadership position in government?)

Strong won the election, of course, though no doubt by a thinner margin than he would have had residents not learned about the incident. As for his criminal case, Strong hardly got a slap on the wrist, having to perform 40 hours of community service, take anger management classes, have no contact with the victim, pay supervision costs, and be evaluated for substance abuse.

On the other hand, for having the temerity to distribute a public report publicly, a document that every citizen has a right to view, State Attorney Lawson Lamar charged Guetzloe with 14 counts of violating Florida’s campaign finance laws, which require a disclaimer — “Paid electioneering communication paid for by (Name and address of person paying for the communication)” — on any electioneering communication.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.