An LGBT coalition is speaking out against a Texas-based crowdfunding website’s effort to buy votes in favor of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance.
NewStarter.com says it will give $10,000 each to the first 10 council members who back the measure, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination and is expected to be considered early next year. By Thursday, NewStarter.com had raised only $2,300 of its $100,000 target.
A spokesman for the Dallas-based site, David Olshansky, says the goal is to return power to the people by allowing them to buy politicians instead of wealthy donors. Olshansky denies that the strategy constitutes bribery, and says NewStarter.com would also be willing to raise money for council members who oppose the ordinance, but no one has expressed interest.
“It’s something that works for elites in this country, the wealthy elites. But the people don’t have access to do anything individually, but together the people have a lot of power that they can combine and get the laws they want passed,” Olshansky told WJXT-TV. “We didn’t get called in. I saw a desire from several groups in the Jacksonville area and also groups that were working in Houston where their human rights ordinance just failed to add LGBT protections.”
One expert told the TV station that if council members were to accept donations in exchange for votes, they could face bribery-related ethics or criminal charges. And the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, which is backing the ordinance, issued a statement condemning NewStarter.com’s effort “in the strongest possible terms.”
“In addition to being a shameful attempt by a Dallas businessman to make a quick buck by injecting himself, uninvited, into our Jacksonville community conversation, his apparent offer to bribe our elected leaders is likely illegal under Chapter 838, Florida Statutes,” the group said.
NewStarter.com also plans campaigns to raise money for US senators who vote in favor of gun control, to purchase air time for a pro-immigration commercial during the next Republican presidential debate, and to allow NFL fans to help keep the players they want on their teams.
Watch WJXT’s report here.