The day before my first round of national news headlines, I held a fundraiser for Roger Stone. That was what the press chose to latch onto. That was the angle.
I knew they would come after me. Try to silence me. Try to destroy my career, my television appearances, my public persona. As Roger told me the very night before “they hate us because we make a difference". I had been trying to make a difference. Fighting back against the injustice, fighting back against their abuse, their lack of regard for human dignity. This wasn’t a partisan issue. This was a human issue. Nothing political about it. My own naive belief.
It was ugly, the last few years. Not only ugly to watch her decline but uglier to watch their tactics. The over-medicating, the lack of their simple presence. The nursing home didn’t seem to care about the patients, they seemed to care about profits. At the beginning it was different. A small homey facility, a woman with a heavy Finnish accent. The sunshine and rainbows were fleeting. I started to wake up to the reality that she was just another patient. Just another person in a wheelchair.
Then there was the introduction of a new Director. A career director from another facility. The new focus appeared to be greed without regard. The halls became more stoic. the day room darker. The eyes were emptier, the clouds had rolled in. You felt the chill, not in temperature but in the emotion. The word chilling had real meaning, it was real, cold and callous. I knew they were coming for me, for I might be the one to expose them. They were afraid. Afraid that I would call the press. Gather my twenty years of connections to elevate the public narrative, make some headlines. I found this out during the civil depos. It was all there in black and white, in the copies of the guardian Amy Nichol's emails. Definitive proof of their rage. Along with the letters to democratic officials that the nursing home director Daniel Benson was sending, after I filed the Unlawful death suit against the American Finnish Village.
Back when my mom was still alive these things weren't on my radar. I wasn’t concerned about my soapbox, my connections. I was only worried about my Mom. Selfish perhaps, an only child living in their own bubble. Worried only about myself and my mom. Not thinking about the others that could be damaged by them, the other families. Not yet, at least. I hadn’t considered going to the press. I wasn’t prepared for how far they would go. I didn’t know they were all in it together. The facility, the lawyers, and the Guardian. They were all in the same pool together, swimming around. An incestuous orgy, of terrible people. A scene so disturbing you would never want to walk into it. If you did catch a glimpse, it would be burned into your brain for life. The ugliest expressions of the human form.
Strategically and powerfully, the swamp rose up to the surface in South Florida again. The swamp that is suppressed by the landfill that we've been piling on it for years. That creates the appearance that the environment has changed. If I had simply googled the lawyers representing the nursing home, I would have seen the headlines about Brian O'Connell and Ashley Crispin: “Jury hits lawyers with $16.4M for doing senior wrong in guardianship”, was the headline in the Palm Beach Post. If I would have read the article, I would have seen the quote from Julian Bivins, who brought the suit as the personal representative of the estate of his father, Oliver. “It’s really kind of a landmark case”. “It sends a message to these unscrupulous lawyers and guardians that they are not going to be able to get away with it anymore." Sadly, they are still getting away with it, still practicing. They came for my mother and they came for me. A politically connected law firm. O'Connell's democratic family roots entangled in the swamp lands for decades.
My mother died at the hands of a neglectful nursing home, cuddling up with the law firm entrenched in the democratic swamp of Florida. Democrats, the same party who wants to socialize health care. Even leaving the elderly to die. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said in a 2011 video with the Daily Caller News Foundation that elderly cancer patients should be denied treatment in order to cut health care costs. Bloomberg made the comments while visiting a grieving family whose brother had died after reportedly waiting 73 hours in an emergency room. “All of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us,” Bloomberg, who was then New York City’s mayor.
I would have never imagined the way the gators in the swamp went for my friend Roger Stone. A spectacle of a raid that executed so publicly it was easy to believe it was done to poison the jury pool. They wanted to paint him dirty, in the court of public perception. Looked like they wanted to achieving an instant media driven result, through the spectacle they created. It worked. Just like they’ve done so many times before.
Two dozen FBI agents at 6 A.M. on a Friday morning. Surrounding his home on foot, in the air and even in boats in his backyard. Of course, CNN was there too. In the CNN video, an agent is heard pounding on the door and announcing "FBI! Open the door!" Then, he shouts "FBI! Warrant!" He said he found himself staring down the barrel several assault weapons, with a dozen fully-equipped FBI agents on his front yard. He was wearing a ‘Roger Stone did nothing wrong’ T-shirt, a pair of cutoff sweatpants and bare feet. Roger had been on top before the arrest. The 2017 Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone, captured his brilliance of branding himself. His signature martinis and eclectic brand of style finally reaching the masses. His book Stone's Rules: How to Win at Politics, Business, and Style giving implementable advice from the political genius. The 140 rules include advice like "Don't hide your scars, they make you who you are…but don't fight the last war, either," and my personal favorite Rule #99 “Never pass up an opportunity to have sex or be on television”.
Roger has a distinct humor and sarcastic wit. He is real and direct. I liked him immediately when we met. Even though was more famous than ever with the release of "Get Me Roger Stone" on Netflix but you wouldn’t have known it. He was really elevating a new audience, beyond the people, like me, who pay attention to history and political players. It was fantastic to watch and well deserved. Then it all changed, they took it all away. The gagged him, silenced him. Took away his platform, his ability to sell books, to be the person that he was. What about his first amendment rights. How is this America.
I still have faith in America, even though my faith in our judicial system has changed. The swamp is murky, it's deep and corrupt.