Florida Dems' Frontrunner for Governor Spent Weekend Hanging With Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump

Gwen Graham (left) spent a weekend in the Hamptons at the same party as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Gwen Graham (left) spent a weekend in the Hamptons at the same party as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. photos: via Gwen Graham's Facebook/Michael Vadon via Flickr CC
click to enlarge Gwen Graham (left) spent a weekend in the Hamptons at the same party as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. - PHOTOS: VIA GWEN GRAHAM'S FACEBOOK/MICHAEL VADON VIA FLICKR CC
Gwen Graham (left) spent a weekend in the Hamptons at the same party as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
photos: via Gwen Graham's Facebook/Michael Vadon via Flickr CC
Update 1 p.m.: Gwen Graham confirms she was at the party, but says she had "no interaction" with either Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump. Her full statement has been added to the end of the post.

Few states have more at stake in the #Resistance than Florida, where immigrants are nearly a quarter of the population, hundreds of thousands would be left without insurance under the GOP's Obamacare repeal, and climate change threatens to swallow the entire coast. Florida's Democrats have never needed good candidates more.

Lately, Rep. Gwen Graham has looked ready to claim the mantle of frontrunner for the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, a walking, talking incarnation of corporate accounting fraud. Graham has been raising serious cash and smartly lashing out at the GOP's American Health Care Act and Trump's request for voter records.

But it's best never to forget that when the kayfabe wears off, all political power brokers on either side of the aisle are wealthy barons who enjoy downing Mo√ęt & Chandon together at exclusive beach resorts. Graham, for instance, apparently took a break from her #Resistance to hang with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at a ritzy party in the Hamptons over the weekend.

That info comes via Politico, which got its hands on the guest list at a beachside soiree thrown Saturday by Lally Weymouth, a former Washington Post owner and senior associate editor at the paper. The party was the kind of D.C. cross section of high-powered journalists, politicos, and lobbyists for which smoke-filled backrooms were invented.
Graham's presence isn't hard to figure out: Her father, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, is Lally Weymouth's uncle. Let's give the Democrat some benefit of the doubt: She might not have known the guest list before showing up to hang out with her dad. And perhaps she used the occasion to give Jared and Ivanka a tongue-lashing about the tweeter-in-chief's destructive grip on power in the White House.

Graham's campaign didn't immediately respond to a message asking exactly what she was up to at the party. Update: See Graham's full statement below.

But these kinds of events crystalize the perception of institutional rot at the heart of American politics. Graham is a legacy candidate, plugged into the same levers of power and money that helped install Donald Trump in the White House. She's about as directly connected to the millions of Floridians set to lose health care under the AHCA as the other multimillionaires enjoying their weekend in the Hamptons.

It's not like the Florida Democrats have a ton of other options. Formerly high-flying Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum looks to be tied into a massive FBI probe of public housing funds in his city, and the only other options are two literal rich guys: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tampa megalawyer and pot advocate John Morgan.    

If Graham is smart, she'll fess up to running into the Trump clan and its oily hangers-on like Kellyanne Conway in the Hamptons but claim to have either avoided them or confronted them directly. Democrats don't seem to have any other choice but to swallow that fact and hope their well-connected Hamptons denizen can take back Tallahassee.

Update: Graham says she didn't know that Kushner or Trump would be at the party, which she attended to see family members. Here's her full statement:

"My Aunt Kay, the courageous leader of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, passed away sixteen years ago. In the past couple years, I have become closer to her daughter, my cousin, Lally. Lally is family and our friendship is important to both of us. I attended Lally's party last Saturday with my parents. We went as family members. I was not aware that Ivanka and Jared were attending the party until we arrived. I had no interaction with them. I was there for family, not politics." 

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink