Fundraising off of a natural disaster is the political equivalent of driving over a downed powerline. The idiotic move brings certain electrocution and risks imminent death. But Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., did exactly that on Thursday, seeing a money-making opportunity in a life-changing disaster.
That Florida man sent a fundraising email while his own state struggles to rebuild after Hurricane Irma. Ironically, Nelson slammed airlines for using "a natural disaster as an excuse to squeeze even more money out of the travelling public," in an attempt to fill his own campaign account.
"That's right — with one of the strongest storms of the century bearing down on Florida," Nelson wrote in the fundraising email, "these airlines were hiking up prices for those trying to escape." And just below that there was a big red button for anyone who agrees with Nelson to contribute. It was tacky and tasteless and, like a downed powerline, incredibly dangerous.
Tropical storms churn up powerful political forces and disaster response can define a leader's career. Anyone who doubts this should revisit the fly-by photoshoot President George W. Bush did over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
To a lesser extent, Nelson has done the same. No doubt his GOP opponent in 2018 won't forget.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.