Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, locked in a re-election battle against three opponents, is pushing back against claims that she has traveled lavishly on the taxpayers’ dime and missed important commission votes.
That’s the claim of a direct mail piece sent out recently to some of Taylor’s constituents by Keeping Citizens First, Inc., which is chaired by local political consultant Rick Asnani.
Asnani is working for one of Taylor’s opponents, Mack Bernard.
“When we needed Priscilla Taylor, she wasn’t around,” the mail piece tells constituents. “When Palm Beach County commissioners were voting on the critical fight to stop the spread of illegal drug distribution pill mills in our neighborhoods…Priscilla didn’t show up. When our County Commission was looking for solutions to prevent youth violence, Priscilla Taylor was sight-seeing somewhere else.”
The mailer then said Taylor missed the 2011 meeting because she was on a “6 night $2,600 taxpayer funded excursion to Portland, Oregon.”
Taylor is an officer in the National Association of Counties and missed the commission meeting to attend a NACo conference. Pill mills weren’t on the commission agenda, and commissioners received and filed a report on the Youth Violence Prevention Project. There was no vote.
Taylor took a dim view of the claims made in the flier.
“I think they’re all untrue,” she said. “I’ve never gone on any sight-seeing excursions when I attended any of those (NACo) meetings. I am an officer. I lead a committee. I have never gone on one of these trips for any vacations at all. Every trip I’ve taken has been strictly for business.”
The anti-Taylor flier isn’t the first one from Asnani’s group that has angered a county commissioner in the last few weeks. Keeping Citizens First attempted to link Commissioner Shelley Vana, a Democrat, to Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s controversial presidential nominee.
Vana is running for property appraiser against Dorothy Jacks, another Asnani client.
In an email to The Palm Beach Post, Asnani said Taylor has missed numerous commission meetings over the years and has made dozens of taxpayer-funded trips that cost a combined $52,000. He also slammed her for attempting to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Taylor has made numerous taxpayer funded trips during her time on the commission, including trips to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., as well as to various locations for NACo meetings. County staff and/or other commissioners have frequently made the same trips.
Taylor had sought to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is vacating the seat to run for one in the U.S. Senate.
“It doesn’t seem like she wants to be here,” Asnani wrote. “You can’t govern if you don’t show up and Taylor is spending far too much time in conferences and too little time on constituents.”
Taylor aborted her run for Congress in February and decided to run for re-election to the commission. She has said she was seeking to serve the same constituents in a different capacity.
Taylor defended her attendance at the NACo conferences, arguing that they have provided her and other county officials with ideas that help them better serve residents.
“The information you get is really priceless,” she said. “The value is something we can not replace. To me, it’s worth it.”