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Bankruptcy Boys: County Commission Candidates Claim “Fiscal Responsibility” Despite Dismal Finances

| August 2, 2010

nate mclaughlin and bob abbott flagler county commission candidates

Are we a pair or what?

Voters have a tough choice when it comes to the only contested seat on the Flagler County Commission. The seat is held by Bob Abbott. He’s being challenged by Nate McLaughlin. Both are Republicans who have made fiscal responsibility and job creation a centerpiece of their platforms.

Yet both have dismal personal financial histories, including bankruptcies and foreclosures. Both have just walked away from six-figure debts. And both claim that has no relevance to their candidacy, though Abbott concedes he made mistakes, lived beyond his means at times and regretted some decisions.

“I’ll tell you truthfully we went a little overboard on some things, my wife and I,” Abbott, who speaks frequently of having run successful businesses, said. “Sometimes you screw up. That’s all I can say. I did do that, but it’s nobody’s fault but my own.”

McLaughlin didn’t see his financial troubles as reflecting on his personal responsibility. “I’m a real estate broker. The market just died. It started going down in ‘06, ’07 there was nothing, we went through our savings, went through our retirement money, keeping things floating, and the money ran out. Just that simple.”

McLaughlin bought a $95,000 house on Princess Rose Drive in 1997. In November 2006, he took out a $204,000 loan on the house. The court entered a default order in July 2009. He filed for bankruptcy in 2008. In the federal bankruptcy filings, McLaughlin listed $188,300 in assets and $340,254 in liabilities. McLaughlin said he’d borrowed the $204,000 “to grow the business.” But in court filings, he listed McLaughlin Realty as a “Florida corporation that has no assets, never used as a business name but have paid corporate fees every year.” The filing lists two additional unsecured bank loans totaling $22,000 and a debt of $57,308 from a half dozen credit cards, including $3,207 on a Home Depot card and $2,490 on a J.C. Penneys card.

McLaughlin said he wasn’t living above his means.

The filing also lists another claim: a $28,443 loan. That was a link to McLaughlin’s previous bankruptcy.

McLaughlin’s first bankruptcy dates back to 1993. He owned McLaughlin Insulation in Maine. In December 1993, the business went bankrupt. “I had a partner who made off with the kitty, I got stuck holding the bag. I lost my business, I lost my home,” McLaughlin said. Two months before the bankruptcy, McLaughlin took out a $25,000 loan that was never repaid. That matter is still pending. The lending bank sued McLaughlin in circuit court in Flagler County 2007, though McLaughlin wrote the court that the matter should have been dismissed since the loan pre-dated the business’ bankruptcy. Due to lack of activity in the case, Judge Raul Zambrano has set this coming Sept. 1 as the date when the case may be dismissed.

“If you’re looking for people that are perfect—I’m not. I never claimed to be,” McLaughlin said on Monday.

Abbott, too, filed for bankruptcy in the mid-1990s—in April 1995, to be precise. He says medical bills he was paying on behalf of a family relation caused the bankruptcy.

When first asked on Monday if he had current financial issues, he said he had none. “Nothing more than a guy with three small children, or a teen-age girl has, every family has issue like that,”Abbott said. But he recently moved from Rosewood Street in Bunnell to a home on Banner Lane in Palm Coast. The reason, he said, was to accommodate three grandchildren, whom he has adopted as his own, and who did not want to live in the country.

That’s not entirely accurate. Abbott walked away from the Rosewood Street house—and some $150,000 in debts there. “Yeah, no big deal. Look around this county, see how many people have done that,” Abbott said. “It was done for financial stability, to make sure that I didn’t make $2,400 in payments. I didn’t want to do that.” As a commissioner, Abbott earns $48,000 a year in addition to his retirement income.

Abbott said the hurricanes of 2004 took off the roof on a house he owned at the time. He moved to the Rosewood Street house and got a Small Business Administration loan of close to $100,000 that, he said, he was required to spend, in addition to a bank loan, the lot totaling $159,000. When he decided to move to Palm Coast, he asked the mortgage company to renegotiate the payments. The company refused, Abbott said. His message to the bank: “You can come and get the house, and that’s the last word I heard on it.”

“I’m not proud of that, but I had to make a decision, and I decided to do what was better for my children. Things like that happen,” Abbott said. “I’m not making excuses. Believe me, I’m not making excuses. I did what I did, and I have to live with that. But my record when I’ve been a commissioner has been exemplary.”

In a forum with various candidates last week, Abbott spoke of his environmental credentials by speaking of the pleasures of living in the woods. He never mentioned that he’d moved to Palm Coast, or why. On Monday, he said he hadn’t meant to make it seem as if he still lived there. He said he may decide to file for bankruptcy again, “which might clear everything.” Then again, he said, he may pay his bills.

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25 Responses for “Bankruptcy Boys: County Commission Candidates Claim “Fiscal Responsibility” Despite Dismal Finances”

  1. P.C. 94 says:

    can we vote “none of the above”?

  2. County Worker says:

    Its good to see where one of our commissioners stands as they are preparing to cripple there work force with higher insurance costs and no raises.

  3. notasenior says:

    I applaud FlaglerLive for getting this information out to the electorate. If you claim you got caught up in the real estate boom, how can we trust you to foresee crises with our tax dollars?

  4. howardhuge says:

    seriously?!?!?!?…..these are the best candidates Flagler can produce for County Commissioner?? ….LMAO

  5. dlf says:

    At least they did not blame the tricky banks for tricking them into a high interest loan, or say they did not understand the loan agreement. It is too bad we need to vote for someone who lived over their income, Look at Washington and see where we will be in the near future, again thanks to the crew of crooks in Washington.

  6. Art Woosley (concerned citizen ) says:

    Very sad indeed, that these two men are the only choices available, if what you say about them is correct as I am sure it is, neither one should be anywhere near a position of responsibility in our county.

    Obviously, the fact that these guys did such a poor job of handling of their own personal finances over the years, speaks volumes, and yet they still have the gall, to think they can properly administer tax payer money, this is ludicrous.

    Can’t we at least find a person with a proven responsible track record as a write in ?

  7. Gene says:

    A wasted vote is a vote for the “lesser of two evils.” A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. Perhaps the best thing to do is to not vote for either candidate.

  8. Lin says:

    Wish I knew all this sooner. County Worker – I (taxpayer) cannot afford to give you a raise. My income is down, my insurance costs are waaay up. My husband lost his insurance recently because of increase in premium. So, sorry — no raise for us, no raise for you.

  9. Bob K says:

    This is quite disturbing. I must say I think Pierre did a more thorough background investigation on these guys than the “aminstream” media did on our current President. Why, we could have learned about shady real estate deals the president partnered in with a convicted felon; or his friendly relationship with an admitted domestic terrorist; or how about the fact that he never even ran so much as a lemonade stand prior to being given the rains to the most powerful country and world’s largest economy? Where were you in 2008, Pierre???

  10. Ralph says:

    Where is Jerry Full when u need him. What about bringing back Jim Darby? Can’t vote for these guys.

  11. Gene says:

    Is there such a thing as a fiscally responsible conservative? If there are I think I saw a pig fly!

  12. H. Peter Stolz says:

    We have to vote for on of these two. Not voting is not an option. Abbott has had his chance on the commission – let’s give the new guy a chance. It’s the only way we’ll ever get rid of the boys and girls who are spending this county into the poorhouse. Replace one commissioner each time one is up for re-election and do the same with the schoolboard.

  13. elaygee says:

    Someone be sure to call the IRS on both of them as they owe taxes on the amount of the home loan that the bank walked away from.

  14. tulip says:

    P.STOLZ—-there are some on the BOCC and the School Board who are very careful of how money is spent., Rather than arbitrarily voting someone out, people need to pay close attention to exactly who’s doing what so that the good ones stay in and the bad ones go out, Abbott is one who says very little on the Board, so we need someone who is more involved and views opinons, like the others do. The choice isn’t the greatest but, as you said, we do need to actually vote for someone.

  15. George says:

    I agree with Gene to cast a vote for the lesser of two evils is foolish, you do have the option of voting for a write-in candidate. Don’t waste your vote on the candidate you don’t believe in, that my friends is a wasted vote.

  16. Jay Ell says:

    In the past when someone I knew considered bankruptcy, the best advice was to avoid it at all costs. Years ago, it was a disgrace to go bankrupt and for many years thereafter the individual could not get credit, except if a person knew how to work the system. These guys seem to know what they are doing, and how to work the system and neither one is bashful about admitting it.

    It seems that ethically, morally, and politically, America has degenerated into the pits on the national level as well as the State, County, and local levels. The question is what to do.

    One would have to be deranged to want one of these fiscally incompetent rascals on our Commission. If I were younger I would place myself in the running and just by being available would get more votes. So folks, here is the assignment: get someone who is qualified and will agree to the job, target the objective, and publicize what has to be done. I wholeheartedly believe that the voters will give this maneauver their support and the right person will be elected.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, so don’t vote for either one of them.

  17. EMPM of palm coast says:

    I witnessed Nate Mclaughlin arguing with the City of Palm Coast city attorney while he was the chairman of the zoning board to defended business men and citizens for their rights. This is why I am voting for Nate. He knows the constitution, knows how to provide jobs, how to make payroll, and what it takes to run a business. This is a man of morals, a true American and in regards to his financial situation, this is quite a trend. Look at the govornment, look at GM, Chrysler, and all the fiancial institutions.

  18. Justice for All says:

    Pierre, please finish the story! Not to hand Mr. McLaughlin the election, but the Supervisor of Elections web site states a candidate must live in the District they seek to represent at the time election papers are filed. Mr. Abbott used to live in District 4. Did he move before or after his election papers were filed? Do you think the Supervisor of Elections verified the filing papers?

  19. Imagine says:

    I agree with Justice for All. Bob Abbott no longer lives in the district he is running in. Neither one is a good choice.

  20. Pierre Tristam says:

    Folks, just to be absolutely factual about the districting issue: there is no issue there. Bob Abbott lives in District 4 now, and he lived in District 4 last year.

    He used to live at 1821 Rosewood Street in Bunnell. That’s the house (and the debt) he walked away from earlier this year. It’s in District 4. He moved into 25 Banner Lane in Palm Coast. That’s also in District 4.

    Here’s the district map.

    There are problems with these candidates. Districting is not one of them.

  21. Justice for All says:

    Thanks for checking. Guess I’ve got to choose between these two “candidates”……….

  22. JW says:

    How can I run for office? I have manged contracts for the US Government valued at over $27 million dollars last year with no issues. I am retiring and moving there this year after 20 plus years of Military Service. I have never filed for bankruptcy as I know how to manage personal finances. These guys are the worst examples of community leaders I have seen lately! Lead by example…sounds like they have a lot of lip service for there personal performance. No matter what they say, how you behave “OFF DUTY” reflects how you behave “ON DUTY”.

  23. Lefty says:

    This was a choice of two candidates with miserable qualifications. I vote for none of the above would be the sad but proper choice. That said, I take exception with Bob K’s comments regarding the current President. First off Bob, Talk radio and Fox News are VERY much mainstream media. Rush, Sean H. Michael Savage Neal Bortz, and Bill O’Reilly have huge followings that equal the numbers that follow the so called LIBERAL media and be certain they did their best to BASH Barack Obama prior to the elections. . The reason that McCain & FORMER Gov Palin lost the election is because they proposed nothing more than the status quo. Reagan, Bush Sr & Bush Jr created around 75% of the national debt under their watch. Jr Bush created the worst economic conditions since the depression. He butchered the handling of 2 wars 1 of which Obama has pulled us out of and he’s in the process of getting us out of the other. Bush isolated the US from the rest of the world with the exception of a few countries that are economically joined to us at the hip. The middle class lost economic ground under the glory days of W Bush. However I must say, the top 5% of the wealthy did EXTREMELY well under Jr Bush/Republican leadership. Unfortunately, these same ultra-rich must have bladder problems because so LITTLE of their largess trickled down upon the heads of the middle class & poor. ALSO, if you think the tea party is the answer, you would be a gullible rube. The right wing/Republican Party are using you like the pliable mush brains that I think you are. Sorry if alot of this doesn’t fit you Bob but you were a handy target to rant at. Feel free to disagree. Especially feel free to glorify Sarah Palin and explain the wonderful tax cuts coming and exactly what spending will be cut to pay for them and beyond. Our country is a wreck, our political system broken via partisanship. I have no optimism for the future and especially our kids. I blame the greedy Republican Party for most all of our countries ills.
    Respectfully, Lefty
    PS, Brett Farve is an a-hole!

  24. Jack says:

    This will be my first vote in Palm Coast – is this the best Palm Coast can offer me as an alternative?
    Thanks God I am a Democrat…
    See you at the polls

  25. palmcoaster says:

    Kudos to Lefty, for telling it like it is!
    Now that he caught Osama, Obama better get serious about creating jobs by taxing imports, put limits and demand collaterals on margin accounts for oil futures contracts trading, to stop the gouging at the pump, proceed with cutting the oil lords subsidies and tax refunds and cuts, tax the wealthy at the same rate as we middle class pay. Then Mr. President you have won your reelection. No matter Trump, Palin, Bachman, Romney, Pawlenty or the others. You have us all middle class, public workers, teachers, firemen, law enforcement all retired and the elderly all our embattled workers unions by GOP newcomers, the unfairly attacked minorities by GOP Governors and the millions of Americans without medical insurance that for sure will vote for you again and no matter how many billions the wealthy and special interest will spend campaigning against “common sense” and the survival of our good old USA as #1.

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