Commentary: Fox News' Obama 'expert' has long Florida resume

Fox News, summoning its expert to make the case that Barack Obama is a one-man sleeper cell, introduced Andy Martin as an "author and journalist.''

In Florida, we know Andy as so much more.

In the annals of bizarre characters who insinuate themselves into Florida politics, Andy Martin deserves his own chapter.

Martin, remember, was the Republican state senate nominee who spent Election Day in the Palm Beach County Jail — one of his many futile runs for public office. My rough count includes three runs for U.S. Senate, one for governor in Illinois and a try for mayor of Chicago.

In Florida, the occasional resident of Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach ran for governor in 1990, the U.S. House in 1992, and the U.S. Senate in 1998, 2000, and again in 2004.

He actually won the Republican nomination (by default) in that infamous 1996 state senate race. Aside from an Election Day behind bars (a contempt of court rap), Martin's campaign included a dust-up in which he roughed up a West Palm Beach TV news crew and pummeled the life out of a $35,000 camera. Channel 5 soared to the top of the ratings with the ensuing video.

His '96 campaign also marked the first time in memory that the Florida Republican Party renounced its own candidate. Someone remembered that when Martin had run for congress in Connecticut back in 1986 — oops, almost forgot that one — his campaign committee promised "to exterminate Jew power in America.''

Beyond politics, Martin, 62, who changed his name from Anthony Martin-Trigona, was notorious hereabouts for filing so many nuisance lawsuits that the Florida Supreme Court intervened in 2000, noting that ''nearly everything Martin files is malicious.'' Martin had been similarly sanctioned by a federal judge in New York in 1984.

Back in 1973, the Illinois Supreme Court had refused him a law license, citing his abuse of the system and noting that the draft board had found that Martin-Trigona exhibited "a moderately-severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.''

Over the years, Martin, aside from stints in jail, garnered attention suing politicians, corporations, judges and railing against the sins of Israel. The New York Times credits him with originating the now ubiquitous Internet lie labeling Obama a secret Muslim back in 2004.

Last Sunday, our Andy was back, surfacing on Fox News as a muckraking investigative journalist. He provided the gravitas for Sean Hannity's hour-long substance-free pseudo-documentary exposing how Obama has long been bent on the "radical overthrow of the government.''

Hannity didn't mention his expert's own misadventures in law and politics, his history of anti-Semitic ravings or his "moderately severe character defect.''

Former state Sen. Tom Rossin, who defeated Martin in 1996, an unforgettable election, was among the Floridians startled to learn that Fox News had given our local nut case a national forum.

''He's got some serious mental issues,'' Rossin said, echoing the opinion rendered by the Illinois Supreme Court 35 years ago. "He's no more a legitimate news source than Carter's little liver pills.''