Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary has drawn criticism for accepting a variety of gifts from constituents and employees about 24 donated items, says the Orlando Sentinel, valued at up to $1,000 each. While his conduct is not illegal, it's atypical enough to have inspired a mini-controversy, making us wonder how the notoriously P.R.-minded Beary is going to contain the damage.
Heard at the Orange County Sheriff's Department "Casino Night" gala, Nov. 5, 2005:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Sheriff's Department's first annual auction of donated goods. Tonight's auction benefits two of the sheriff's favorite charities, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Give Kids the World.
Our first item is one you may have read about in the papers. It's a Bushmaster M4A3 assault rifle valued at $800. This compact, .223-caliber weapon is the perfect sidearm to carry when you're inspecting national disaster sites or just intimidating uppity homeowners in minority neighborhoods. I'm going to start the bidding at $500. Do I have $500? Five hundred from the man in the flak jacket and the Hitler mustache. Can I have $550? Five-fifty, from the young fellow to his left who's wearing the Che Guevara beret and about to knee him in the groin. Who can give me $600? Six hundred? This is quality artillery, folks, going for much less than you'd pay if you bought it at a gun show or out of the back of your cousin's Acura. Going, going … sold for $550, to our determined young friend. Viva la revolución!
Second on our list is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket in size 463 Husky, plus some unspecified biker's accessories. The estimated value of the jacket is $150, but I'll begin bidding at $60. Do I have $60? I have $60. How about $65? Remember, this item is in an unusual size, making it the perfect gift for one of your portlier relatives or a mandrill. I see $65. Either it's $65, or the third-grader in the front row needs to be excused. Sold, and we can hammer out the details when you get back.
Here we have a beautiful painted portrait of Sheriff Beary with his longstanding idol, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. This portrait was painted by artist Keith Newton, and I'm sure you'll agree that it's a stunner. Look at those rich skin tones and those realistic facial expressions. You can really sense the bloodlust. Can I get an opening bid of $100? One hundred? OK, how about $75? Surely someone can do $75. No? Well, we'll come down a bit. Anyone for $50? If I point out that the paints alone used to make this masterpiece sold for $40, will someone offer me $50? Remember, we're a small nonprofit. Still no? Well, hold on. In the event of just such an emergency, my office has authorized me to rend the canvas down the middle and auction the Patton image as a separate item. Yes, you, sir? One hundred? Sold for $100, to the gentleman with the voice box and the prosthetic arm. No refunds, please.
Our next item was once a $50 cake furnished by Publix in honor of the sheriff's 48th birthday. Look in your brochure under "remnants" and you will see that this lot includes one large empty cake platter bedecked with a few random smears of icing, plus a surviving miniature wax figure that represents either the sheriff or Chumley, the walrus from the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon. Due to the rapidly decomposing state of this item, I'm going to bypass the bidding entirely and award it to the first person who hands me $1.75. Sold, and I'd find a cleaner plate to lick if I were you, ma'am.
Now, here's a real beauty I'm sure some of you have had your eyes on. It's an $800 stun gun from Taser International, accompanied by an extra-extra-large T-shirt that certifies the wearer has survived a full 5-second, 50,000-volt shock. Also included in the lot but not indicated in your brochure is an "I'd rather be Tasing" bumper sticker. Before I start the bidding, I'm going to follow the sheriff's example and train the weapon on myself, to prove its efficacy. There. Works like a charm. Do I hear $400? Four hundred. Do I hear $450 and a low buzzing in my inner ear? Four-fifty. Do I hear $500 and the low buzzing, and am I beginning to experience a feeling of mild nausea? Five hundred. Do I hear $550 and the buzzing, am I nauseous and am I about to sink to the floor? Sold, to the person in the argyle socks.
Up next is a Pilates machine furnished by one of the sheriff's especially concerned admirers. Please notice that this item is mint in box. And when we say mint, we mean absolutely untouched and unmolested. Those staples are industrial-strength, people. Pry them open and hours of fun and fitness are yours, following a brief assembly process the sheriff's office unfortunately cannot describe. Do I have $100? One hundred from the strapping lesbian in the back. Who can do $125? One hundred twenty-five from her girlfriend, and no, I will not shut up and sit down. Can I hear $130? Yes, you, with the bag of Funyuns and the enormous ass. Going, going, gone.
At last we come to the final event in tonight's bidding. Turn to the last page of your brochure and you'll see the item I'm referring to. It's marked "Influence," and it's a catch-all title for what you'll be wielding when word of your generous contribution reaches the sheriff's attentive, porcine ears. As the proud owner of this item, you'll be able go about your daily business in peace and security, knowing that the sheriff is always on your side. Do 90 mph in a school zone! Go hunting in the off-season with seven vodkatinis in your system! And through it all, enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you've obtained your law-enforcement protection the Florida way: by outspending the next guy. Please note that this lot was originally labeled "Ethics," but we sold those to a private consulting company two days before this auction began. Do I hear $1,000?