FLORIDA POLITICS
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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.

 

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The Blog for Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scott bows to his Flabagger masters in the Legislature

    Bowing to his Flabagger masters in the Legislature,
    Scott's budget does not call for the expansion of Florida's Medicaid program. The governor two years ago supported the idea of expanding eligibility of the health care safety net program in order to draw down billions in federal aid available under the health care overhaul pushed by President Barack Obama.
    And yet again, Scott disrespects Florida's wildfire firefighters, state law enforcement officers, and other state employees - Scott wants
    No pay raises for state workers.
    "Scott proposes nearly $77 billion state budget."

    Indeed,

    State workers last got an across-the-board raise in 2013, their first such raise in six years. [and that after taking a pay cut in 2011 when Scott and the FlaGOP] passed a measure requiring Florida Retirement System participants to chip in 3 percent of their pay toward their retirement. "It's a slap in the face for state workers," Edson said. "Here they've had to put in 3 percent in their retirement, and that's money that when they were hired it was understood that they wouldn't have to pay." . . .

    Florida [already] has the country's lowest ratio of state employees to the population — 108 per 10,000 residents.

    "Scott proposes cutting 1,000 state positions." More: "Rick Scott Makes $673 Million in Tax Cuts the Showpiece of Budget Proposal."


    Good luck with that

    Back at the ranch,"Democratic leaders lay out priorities." See also "Democrats Unveil 2015 Agenda for Florida Legislature."


    "Southerland in a skirt"

    Bill Cotterell reports that "voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. She voted with the Republicans to roll back some Wall Street reforms. She voted for the new majority’s idea of requiring cost-benefit analyses for changes in federal regulations. Graham even said she’d sit with a GOP member at the State of the State address, a symbolic visual gesture to underscore “the North Florida way” of bipartisanship. Many Democrats around here, who were so giddy when Graham won on Nov. 4, now think they got Southerland in a skirt." "Gwen Graham is showing independence."


    Raw political courage

    "GOP leaders vow to cut taxes, spend more on public education."


    Curbelo will have big seat at the table

    "In his first term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., will have a big seat at the table when it comes to transportation issues." "Freshman Carlos Curbelo Claims a Big Role on Transportation."


    Baileygate heats up as "Scott vigorously denied doing anything wrong"

    "A St. Petersburg attorney is asking a Tallahassee prosecutor to investigate whether Gov. Rick Scott and three Cabinet officials violated the state's open meetings law in the ouster of Gerald Bailey."

    Matthew Weidner filed his complaint Wednesday. It came the same day Gov. Rick Scott vigorously denied doing anything wrong in the dismissal of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner.
    "Attorney asks for probe of Scott, Cabinet over Bailey's ouster." More: "Attorney asks for probe of Scott, Cabinet over Bailey's ouster."


    Drones

    "Will Florida Allow Drones to Survey Agriculture?."


    Less sunshine?

    "Public records and access to them continue to be limited, warned First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen on Wednesday." "Foundation keeping an eye on public records exemptions."


    "Bondi acknowledges she had no proof"

    Abdicating her responsibility as Florida's Chief Law enforcement officer, Attorney General Pam Bondi stands by her man, contending "that Scott didn't approve of Bailey's ouster."

    Bondi instead suggested it was the governor's staff who pressed Bailey to resign from his job.

    "Did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it," Bondi said to reporters.

    Later, she added: "I do not think that Rick Scott would do that. I think it was done at the staff level. I firmly believe it was done at the staff level."

    Of course, "Bondi acknowledged she had no proof to back her opinion and had not discussed the matter with Scott."


    "Civil war brewing in Florida politics"

    "There’a civil war brewing in Florida politics and it’s over what to " You see, "in the Senate, both of Florida’s senators -- Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio -- want to send assistance to rebels looking to take down the Syrian government. Nelson even took to the Senate floor on Wednesday and called for America to provide training and weapons to the Syrian forces battling Islamic State (IS) forces." "Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio Break With Conservatives and Liberals on Syria." Related: "Marco Rubio Takes Over Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Expands Foreign Policy Credentials."


    Amendment 1 betrayal

    "Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday that a portion of Amendment 1 funds would be better spent on improving municipal water and waste-water systems in some areas, but supporters who successfully pushed the amendment say that is not what voters approved." "Policy and Politics 9 hours ago 11:46 p.m. Debate heats up over Amendment 1 funds."


The Blog for Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Legislature attacks League of Women Voters' proposal as "politically corrupt"

    In filings with the Florida Supreme Court, "attorneys for the Legislature say groups suing the state over its congressional districts submitted 'politically corrupt' maps as part of the challenge."
    It’s the latest in a lengthy and high-profile legal battle after a coalition of plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, filed a lawsuit in 2012 arguing the congressional districts were drawn to favor the GOP.
    "This summer, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found the state’s congressional maps were drawn to favor Republicans."
    Lawmakers redrew those maps, which received Lewis’ approval in August. Oral arguments in the plaintiffs’ appeal of that decision are set to be heard by the Florida Supreme Court early next month.

    The lawsuit has featured reams of legal documents dotted with colorfully disparaging comments as both sides have attacked the other’s credibility to cast them as being influenced by political operatives.

    "New shots fired in battle over voting districts."


    Republican scramble

    "Republican voters went to the polls in special elections needed after former Sen. John Thrasher accepted the presidency of Florida State University, setting off scrambles for his Florida Senate seat and two Florida House seats vacated in the aftermath of his resignation." "Hutson, Stevenson and Renner Win Legislative Special Election Primaries." See also "GOP Primary: Paul Renner Wins For House, Travis Hutson Wins For Senate."

    Background: "An Election For Republicans Only That Will Likely Decide Flagler’s House and Senate Seats."


    Runnin' Gub'mint like a bidness

    "Jury awards $340,000 to fired state corrections officials in whistle-blower suit." Meanwhile, "Senate Bill Targets Troubled Prison System."


    Insurance Commissioner dodges media, huddles with lobbyist

    Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin "McCarty refused to talk to reporters after his speech and instead met privately with a Holland & Knight policy adviser who does lobbying." "Atwater: Stress tests may instill confidence in insurance."


    Surely the Flabaggers will oppose this?

    "HUD announces $1.8 billion in grants for homeless."


    Second amendment stoopid

    "A Merritt Island man was charged with accidentally shooting and killing a 17-year-old while they were listening to music, a Brevard County Sheriff's spokesman said." "Deputies: Man accidentally kills teen while acting out music lyrics."


    Looks to be a banner session for lobbyists

    "The country’s big beer companies have set their sights on craft brewers in the Sunshine State -- again." "Florida Craft Brewers Gear Up For Another Fight."


    Local gub'mint funds 55.6% of Florida’s total state and local revenue

    More evidence of the irresponsibility of our elected officials in Tally. The Tampa Tribune editors point out that

    Florida relies more heavily on local governments to fund services than almost every state. Local governments fund 55.6 percent of Florida’s total state and local revenue, the second-highest percentage in the nation.
    "Cut communications tax with care."


    Wingnut caucus

    "A Florida congressman is one of the founders of a new congressional caucus which hopes to ensure the GOP majority in the U.S. House is staunchly conservative." "Ron DeSantis Helps Launch House Freedom Caucus." Meanwhile, "Conservatives in Congress are launching an effort pushing back against President Barack Obama on Common Core standards with members of the Florida delegation -- including Tom Rooney -- backing [the bill by Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-S.C]. . . . Wilson’s bill has drawn more than 30 co-sponsors including three Republican congressmen from Florida: U.S. Reps. Curt Clawson, Ron DeSantis and Tom Rooney." "Joe Wilson's Common Core Fight Against Obama Joined by Florida Congressmen."


    Big sugar gets a pass

    "Florida Gov. Rick Scott is promising to dedicate tens of millions to helping the Everglades." "Gov. Scott to pledge millions for Everglades restoration."


    Webster stripped of Rules Committee assignment

    "Stripped of his assignment on the Rules Committee after challenging U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to lead the chamber, U.S. House Dan Webster, R-Fla., kept his posts on the Water Resources and Environment, and Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials subcommittees of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The Florida congressman also claimed a new spot on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee." "After Failed Challenge to John Boehner, Dan Webster Expands Subcommittee Role."


The Blog for Monday, January 26, 2015

Florida politicians pondering Senate run

    "With less than two years to go before the election, Florida politicians are already pondering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2016."
    Many of the Democrats and all of the potential Republican candidates, however, will most likely wait to see what incumbent Marco Rubio will do next. The Republican from Miami is considering a run for president in 2016.

    U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando last week became the first of potential major Democratic candidates to say publicly he was seriously exploring the idea. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter has also declared an interest.

    Other Democrats said to be considering the race include U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, former state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

    "And if Rubio decides to not seek re-election and run for president instead, Florida Republicans would have plenty of potential candidates."
    Most often cited are former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford; U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Bradenton; and three Florida Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The latter two, however, are said to be focused on the next governor's race.
    "All eyes on Rubio as 2016 U.S. Senate talk begins." See also "Rubio on the Launching Pad, but Will He Blast Off with Jeb in the Mix?." See also "Who's Florida Democrats' best hope for Senate?"


    The best they can do

    "Travis Hutson is starting to pull ahead of Doc Renuart in the final days in the fight for the open Florida Senate seat that had been held by John Thrasher before he became president of FSU." "Travis Hutson Favored Over Doc Renuart for Florida Senate Seat."


    "Governor’s duplicity"

    Dockery: "Governor’s duplicity on Bailey ouster warrants investigation" (subscription).


    "Economy would come to a screeching halt if people actually had to pay fair-market, fair-wage prices"

    Scott Maxwell finds "it fascinating when the same people who gripe about illegal immigration get incensed at the idea of paying a penny a pound more for tomatoes."

    Who on Earth do you think is picking your tomatoes for a measly 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket?

    Labor stats show that upward of 50 percent of America's agriculture workforce is undocumented.

    Big Agriculture says it's much higher. And they don't want to be forced to hire only U.S. citizens — because it costs more to play by the rules. . . .

    Florida's governor actually said it'd be "foolish" to force companies to follow the law.

    See, America's dirty little secret is that our entire economy is built on cheap labor. And cheap food. And cheap everything.

    Partly because we love a deal. But mainly because we can't afford anything more.

    America's middle class has shrunk. The ranks of the poor are growing.

    When I was a child, one parent could hold a decent job and still buy a house and provide for a family. Today, both parents often work — and it's still not enough. Especially in a place like Central Florida, the lowest-paying metro area in America.

    So, with working-class wages stagnating, the entire economy would come to a screeching halt if people actually had to pay fair-market, fair-wage prices for bread and milk.

    "Immigration debate really about low wages, cheap products" (subscription).


    Baileygate

    Nancy Smith writes that "the governor is exactly where the buck stops. If Baileygate is the tip of an iceberg, Scott IS the iceberg."

    "There's a Lesson in Baileygate and Allegations of FDLE Meddling."


    Weak bench

    "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has inched his way into second place as a potential 2016 Republican presidential primary candidate, placing only three percentage points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney."

    In the poll breakdown, Rubio fared much better with female voters than other possible primary nominees. He received 22 percent of women among self-identified Republicans and conservatives, while other nominees like Romney walked away with only 14 percent of the same demographic.

    Among men, however, Rubio has a lot of ground to cover. He only takes 4 percent of the vote among self-identified Republicans and conservative men, while Romney and Bush take 20 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

    Republicans have significantly underperformed among single women during the last two presidential elections. The Zogby poll is an indication Rubio could be the GOP’s answer to moving more of these female voters into the Republican column in 2016.

    "Latest Zogby Poll Declares Rubio a Real 'Player'."

The Blog for Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jeb apparently "presided over bogus accounting statements and fictional business deals"

    The Tampa Bay Times reports that "Jeb Bush was out of the Florida governor's mansion for less than a year when he signed a $15,000-a-month consulting deal with InnoVida, a Miami start-up promising to revolutionize affordable housing with remarkably sturdy and lightweight building panels."
    But InnoVida never delivered. Instead, the company crashed amid bankruptcy and fraud investigations that ultimately landed its charming CEO, Claudio Osorio, in federal prison for nearly 13 years.

    A bankruptcy trustee went after Bush's fees, and in 2013 the former two-term governor agreed to pay back more than half of the $470,000 he collected as a consultant between late 2007 and the fall of 2010.

    Bush, who also served on InnoVida's board, was never accused of wrongdoing in Osorio's Ponzi-like swindle that prosecutors said netted him and other co-conspirators about $50 million. But InnoVida occupies noteworthy real estate in the broad landscape of Bush's business dealings, since it's the only one to have ended in the kind of full-blown scandal that occurs when a CEO is led away in handcuffs.

    InnoVida's salacious finale is drawing renewed attention as Bush readies for a presidential run. The Republican touting the power of free enterprise in his "Right to Rise" campaign served on a corporate board that presided over a venture fraught with bogus accounting statements and fictional business deals.

    "Miami attorney Linda Worton Jackson, who has represented InnoVida creditors in the bankruptcy case, faulted the board of directors for lacking leadership, failing to properly oversee Osorio, and missing warning signs as he dodged questions and provided evasive answers about the company's finances."
    "When someone as prominent as Jeb Bush lends his name to a company, it gives the creditors a level of false security," Jackson told the Miami Herald. "Creditors assume that he is scrutinizing the company rather than receiving stock and money for simply ratifying each decision by Osorio. This is precisely the reason con artists encourage prominent people to be a part of the fraudulent company."

    A Bush spokeswoman said the former governor had concerns "toward the end of the relationship" about InnoVida's governance and financial disclosures and took action in 2010 once he realized there was a severe problem at the company. She noted his settlement with the bankruptcy trustee includes language praising his assistance.

    "Out of public life since January 2007, Bush's private-sector dealings with InnoVida and other companies are now often cited as a potential political vulnerability."
    He served five years as a director of Swisher Hygiene, overlapping with a time when the Charlotte-based seller of sanitary supplies issued faulty earnings reports that later had to be restated. Lehman Brothers hired Bush as a consultant in 2007 as the investment bank was heading toward a stunning 2008 bankruptcy that contributed to the global financial crisis.

    His former board seat at Tenet Healthcare left Bush with stock holdings valued at $2.4 million last year, equity boosted by the company's profits under the Affordable Care Act — the signature Obama administration program that Bush continues to slam.

    The rise and fall of Osorio's InnoVida is a classic Miami tale of a connected con man with famous friends, a ritzy waterfront house and a smooth sales pitch. There was also a complex web of corporations and subsidiaries that spanned the globe. Bush signed a finders-fee deal with an InnoVida entity in the Cayman Islands, and said he flew to Dubai to inspect the company's outpost there.

    Much more here: "At InnoVida, the CEO hired Jeb Bush and went to prison." Meanwhile, "Jeb Bush tests a stump speech in San Francisco."

    Its an old story, here's a St. Pete Times article from 1998: "Jeb Bush: Make the money and run" - "Bush's hurried quest for financial success also reveals a naive reliance on his benefactors and a lack of scrutiny of those around him. He tapped his father's Washington connections to recruit help for some questionable businessmen, including one felon who remains a fugitive wanted by the FBI. He embraced business deals that have prompted lawsuits alleging mismanagement, stock manipulation and special treatment." To which we say, Run Jeb! Run!


    Even (some) wingers get it

    "It may surprise you to discover a growing number of social conservatives and libertarians are questioning the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values."

    A bit late to the game, wingers are recognizing that the

    "DNA era has given us irrefutable proof that our criminal justice system sentences innocent people to die. Evidence we once thought reliable, like eyewitness identification, is not always accurate. DNA evidence has led to hundreds of exonerations, but it isn’t available in most cases.
    "Group Claims Capital Punishment Is Anti-Conservative and Bad in Florida."


    Cuba negotiations heat up

    "Follow [the Herald's] tweets as Roberta S. Jacobson, America's top diplomat for Latin America, offers her assessment of negotiations with Cuban officials." "Exclusive: Senior U.S. diplomat, back from Havana, offers insight on Cuba relations."


    Weekly Roundup

    Brandon Larrabee News Service of Florida: "Weekly Roundup: Trying to Change the Subject."


    Baileygate

    "A Land O’Lakes man filed a formal complaint with the FBI asking for an investigation into a series of claims made last week by Gerald Bailey, whom Gov. Rick Scott ousted as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement." "Calls for FDLE investigations grow as Gov. Rick Scott continues to avoid questions."


    Big of him

    "The head of an important legislative committee and his entourage dropped in on two Florida prisons Thursday. Some of what he saw disturbed him." "Florida lawmaker drops in on prisons, finds problems."


    Distrusting Scott

    The Sarasota Herald tribune editors: "In Florida's unique government, three officials and the governor -- all elected statewide -- share power on the Cabinet. That power-sharing arrangement is the most compelling reason for Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to grill Gov. Rick Scott over the departure of Gerald Bailey from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."

    Atwater, Putnam and Bondi -- all of whom have further political ambitions -- should ask their staffs to determine whether Scott's office did, in fact, share the governor's intentions.

    Also, the Cabinet members ought to explain why they went along with appointing Swearingen without asking many questions.

    In any case, Scott owes the Cabinet and the public a thorough explanation of what transpired and why he recommended Swearingen, the insider.

    What's more, although Scott's office has denied the allegations, some independent organization should investigate Bailey's assertions that former executive office aides asked him to target -- without evidence -- a local official in order to find scapegoats for the escape of state prisoners. In addition, reports of Republican Party funds being directed to the FDLE, which then sent them to the general fund, should be examined as well.

    Florida's Cabinet system has its roots in historic distrust of an all-powerful executive. Scott's handling of Bailey's departure and his office's interactions with the FDLE underscore the reasons for that distrust.

    "Trouble in the Cabinet."


    "Jeb!" eyes 2016

    "In his first public event since taking steps toward a presidential run, Jeb Bush on Friday called on political leaders to overhaul the country's immigration and education systems, increase job training programs and ease energy regulations to spur economic growth." "Eyeing 2016, Jeb Bush signals focus on middle class."


    Bits and Pieces

    Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces."


    Condoleezza and Jeb, truly a fine pair

    "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday tapped former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to serve as chairman of his education foundation, turning over the organization to the former diplomat and academic who remains popular inside the Republican Party." "Condoleezza Rice taking over Jeb Bush's education foundation."


    "3 1/2 Minutes"

    "A documentary about the case of a Jacksonville teenager fatally shot by a white man after an argument over loud music is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival."

    The film "3 1/2 Minutes" will air Saturday at the well-known festival in Utah.

    The documentary comes after the recent first-degree conviction of 48-year-old Michael Dunn for the November 2012 slaying of Jordan Davis.

    "Documentary about Florida loud music killing to premiere at Sundance."

The Blog for Friday, January 23, 2015

No joke, Rubio to make presidential run

    In news that will hearten empty suits everywhere: "In a major sign of his White House ambitions, Sen. Marco Rubio kicked off an election-strategy powwow Friday at the Delano Hotel by announcing a fundraising team that looked like a presidential campaign-in-waiting." "Sen. Marco Rubio to aides: ‘prepare for a presidential campaign’."


    "Scott and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month"

    "Scott was sworn in for his second term on Jan. 6 -- a little more than two weeks ago. It's pretty much been all downhill from there." "Backroom Briefing: Scott and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month."


    Scott denies he's a crook

    "Florida Gov. Rick Scott, responding to an ongoing furor that is overshadowing his second term in office, provided a detailed response Thursday to allegations that he and his staff made improper and politically motivated requests to the state's former top law-enforcement official. The decision by Scott's office to release a two-page list of questions and answers came hours after two other statewide-elected Republicans said someone should look into the allegations made by former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey." "Scott fires back at ex-FDLE chief's allegations." See also "Governor's Office Answers on Gerald Bailey, FDLE."

    "Scott denies allegations in FDLE firing." Meanwhile, "CFO Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam call for investigation into FDLE firing."


    Weatherford's make-work-millions

    "Even though he is now out of office, Will Weatherford showed this week that he has no intention of heading toward the sidelines."

    Only 35, Weatherford just finished eight years in the Florida House including spending 2013 and 2014 as speaker. It's no secret that Weatherford has ambitions for even higher office and, with youth on his side, his star could go far. But his path up is blocked by several other Republicans and, after being term-limited, last year Weatherford had no immediate office to target. The question turns now to how Weatherford can remain in the public eye while getting ready for 2018 or whenever he decides to run again.

    Part of that became evident this week. Earlier this week, Weatherford announced the formation of Weatherford Partners -- formed with two of his brothers including former FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford -- to tackle capital investment. Later in the week, the former House speaker also joined the board of directors of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, an organization his father-in-law Allan Bense has ties to. On Thursday, Weatherford announced he was joining the board of directors of Sunshine Bancorp.

    "Will Weatherford Shows No Signs of Going Away."


    Haters in a dither

    "US, Cuba end historic talks with more questions than answers." Background: "State Department negotiator meets with Cuban dissidents."


The Blog for Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bondi last to Baileygate

    Steve Bousquet, Marc Caputo and Mary Ellen Klas report that "Florida Cabinet members are turning up the heat on Gov. Rick Scott over the botched removal of a top state police official, with [even] Attorney General Pam Bondi raising 'serious questions' about Scott's conduct."
    Bondi on Wednesday became the last of the three elected Republican Cabinet members to distance herself from the ouster last month of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Bailey alleges that Scott and his aides meddled in law enforcement business and used strong-arm tactics to pressure him to resign.
    But she hasn't quite grown a complete spine:
    Taking [only] indirect aim at Scott on his preference for secrecy over transparency, Bondi said that she and the public have a right to know the truth and that she would insist that the Bailey matter be discussed "thoroughly and in the sunshine" at the next Cabinet meeting Feb. 5.
    Big of her.
    All three Cabinet members have said they did not anticipate Bailey's ouster, but not one of them publicly questioned the decision at last week's Cabinet meeting.
    "Attorney General Pam Bondi joins Cabinet scrutiny of Gov. Rick Scott's actions in FDLE firing."


    Torpid editorial boards begin to call for an investigation

    The Miami Herald editors: "Investigate FDLE allegations."


    "FDLE chief's ouster could force changes"

    "The abrupt ouster of the leader of Florida's main law-enforcement agency could lead to a major shake-up in how the state Cabinet and the governor hire top officials." "FDLE chief's ouster could force changes in Cabinet hiring of leaders."


    Second amendment stoopid

    "Pinellas toddler finds his father's gun, kills himself."


    "Bondi (included only for comic relief)"

    John Romano writes: "The words were polite and the tone was measured, but the message Gov. Rick Scott delivered in a letter to Jeff Atwater seems unmistakable:"

    Kiss off.

    And while the letter was addressed to the state's chief financial officer, it might as well have gone to every politician in Tallahassee and every voter in Florida.

    For what Scott really did was draw a line in the sand and ask if anyone was tough enough to cross it.

    There really is no other way to interpret Scott's response when Atwater suggested the Cabinet reconsider the hiring of a new commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Romano insists that Scott
    be called out by his Cabinet colleagues. By Atwater (a strong possibility), by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (a lesser possibility) or by Attorney General Pam Bondi (included only for comic relief). . . .

    More people voted against Scott than for him in consecutive gubernatorial elections. He has nothing approaching a mandate and no cause to believe he can act with impunity.

    What he has done this week is behaved like a bully.

    And if no one has the courage to knock him down, his disregard for laws, transparency and common courtesy will only get worse.

    Much more here: "If Rick Scott gets away with this, Florida is in trouble."


    JU, Really?

    "Mitt Romney to Receive Honorary Degree from JU."



The Blog for Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bondi, Putnam and Atwater Turn on Scott after initially sitting on their hands

    Bondi, Putnam and Atwater are now pleading ignorance.

    Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam [initially] followed along like sheep, praising Bailey, asking no questions and voting unanimously for his replacement. Only after Bailey said the governor lied by calling his abrupt departure voluntary did the Cabinet members perk up, plead ignorance and pronounce themselves dissatisfied.
    The Tampa Bay Times continues:
    The former FDLE commissioner said Scott staff members improperly asked him to discuss the governor's political positions, use the FDLE to ferry campaign workers, and delete emails to his state computer that sought campaign contributions (which should be a public records violation). Bailey said he refused, and he was out.

    But Bailey's most serious allegation is that Scott's former chief of staff pressured him to falsely name an Orange County court clerk the target of a criminal investigation after two prison inmates used forged court documents to escape in 2013. Bailey said he refused and was criticized by Scott's staff. The governor's office says this allegation is untrue, but the Cabinet and the Legislature should question Scott, Bailey and the governor's staff in a public setting.

    Only now, with the heat on, are FlaGOP
    Cabinet members are starting to assert themselves. Putnam was the first to express his unhappiness, and now Atwater and Bondi have called for a public discussion about the FDLE situation at the Feb. 5 meeting of the governor and Cabinet. Scott has doubled down, saying he also wants to replace three heads of agencies that report to the governor and Cabinet — including state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
    "Editorial: Florida Cabinet should stand up to Gov. Rick Scott."

    See also "Controversy grows over FDLE chief's exit," "FDLE chief's ouster could force changes in Cabinet hiring of leaders" and "Officials in Gov. Scott’s cross-hairs remain tight-lipped."


"Scott engulfed in a full-blown crisis"

    "It was the strongest sign yet that all three elected officials, under fire for not questioning the forced resignation of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, are distancing themselves from Scott, now engulfed in a full-blown crisis barely two weeks into his second term." "Florida CFO Jeff Atwater breaks with Gov. Rick Scott, wants new search for FDLE chief."

    Scott Maxwell writes that "the latest accusations against Scott aren't coming from longtime critics. They're coming from one of Florida's top law-enforcement officials — a respected veteran who worked closely with the governor for the past four years."

    And that, my friends, is a big deal ... and why Scott now has a full-fledged scandal on his hands.

    For those who missed it, the former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — 35-year-veteran Gerald Bailey — has started spilling the beans.

    Bailey portrays Scott and his staff as a group of unethical, hard-core politicos who would go to great lengths — willing even to fabricate a criminal investigation — to get themselves out of a jam.

    "Rick Scott's FDLE scandal blows open, demands probe."

    More: "The sudden ouster of the leader of Florida's main law-enforcement agency is now causing a rift between Gov. Rick Scott and other top Republicans less than a month after his second term in office started." "Atwater, Scott tangle over FDLE chief's ouster."


    Hiaasen drinks the Kool-aid

    Carl Hiaasen buys into the mainstream line, that if "you're Hillary, you're nervous about Jeb because he remains well-liked in Florida although he hasn't campaigned for office in more than a decade." "Jeb could ruin Hillary's political run."

    But the usually astute Hiaasen overlooks the fact that polling shows that Floridians ain't impressed with Jeb, and even a very recent Republican oriented "poll shows Clinton taking 37 percent while Bush is right behind with 36 percent. But, despite Florida voters' familiarity with both candidates, more than a quarter of those surveyed -- 28 percent -- are undecided." "Hillary and Jeb Close in Florida in 2016 Poll."

    It is not hard to imagine what the "undecided" voters will do - many of who were not around during Jeb's reign - when the national media reminds them of Bush's extremism. Consider:

    S.V. Date, author of Jeb: America’s Next Bush, wrote in Politico magazine that the push to label Jeb a moderate was “mind-boggling.” Veteran Tampa Bay Times reporter Adam Smith mocked the idea Bush was a “moderate squish” in a column that quoted Bush-era legislative leaders from both parties alternately lauding and condemning his conservative ways.

    “For us who live in Florida, who experienced the eight-year Jeb Bush governorship, it’s almost laughable and maybe even hysterical for people who live outside of Florida to claim that he’s a moderate,” former state House Speaker Will Weatherford told Smith.

    "Jeb Bush was a severely conservative governor – will the GOP care?"


    Its complicated

    Nancy Smith: "" "Seminole Hard Rock Obstructs Scott Walker's Presidential Aspirations."


    Jax laff riot

    "Republican mayoral challenger Lenny Curry knocked Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown over the city’s pension woes in a recent campaign flier mailed to some voters, which blasts Brown for playing politics on big issues and having 'made a mess of things in City Hall.'" "Alvin Brown campaign labels Lenny Curry flier 'a hit piece'."


    Bondi dodges Bailey scandal

    The below transcript in the Miami Herald shows just how determined Bondi is in avoiding the questions about the ouster of FDLE Chief, Bailey:

    Question: You’re in law enforcement, you haven’t said anything about (Bailey’s) exit. Can you shed a little light on your feelings of Bailey leaving the FDLE?

    Bondi: Oh, I think he’s an amazing man. It’s interesting because I almost talked about him today.

    Question: Why didn’t you?

    Bondi: It escaped me. They kept going. But he’s a very private man. But I’ve been talking to my staff about doing something in his honor.

    Question: As a cabinet member you do have some authority on his leaving.

    Bondi: Yes. And I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

    Question: Why is he leaving?

    Bondi: I do not know.

    Question: Have you asked Gov. Scott why he’s leaving?

    Bondi: I can tell you that I’ve know Commissioner Bailey for many many years. In fact, I knew him back when he prosecuted the boot camp case back in the days of (Former FDLE Commissioner) Guy Tunnel when I was a prosecutor. And Gerry Bailey came into this agency and restored integrity, so I think the world of Gerald Bailey.

    Question: So why would you not ask questions about his departure?

    Bondi: I’m fine with (new FDLE Commissioner) Rick Swearingen. I think Gerry Bailey has retired. I think he’s a very private person. And you can talk to him about that.

    Question: But apparently, the understanding is that (Bailey) stepped down because he was told that he no longer had confidence and support from members of the Cabinet, which includes you. So are you saying at no point in time that you ever communicated to anyone in the Scott administration that you were willing to get rid of Commissioner Bailey?

    Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

    Question: You’re not answering the question.

    Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

    Question: So you don't think Florida taxpayers deserve to know whether or not their top law enforcement official was forced out?

    Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

    Read it all here: "Bondi mum on ouster of FDLE's Bailey."


    "Not exactly friendly territory for female legislators"

    Jeff Henderson: "The Florida House isn’t exactly friendly territory for female legislators, and plenty of them -- usually on the Democratic side -- will note that a woman has never led it as speaker. But there are plenty of women who have been moving up in the leadership ranks, including Marti Coley as speaker pro tempore last session and Dana Young who currently is the House majority leader." "Dana Young One of the Powers of the Florida House."


    Jeb and the "militant Cuban exiles"? Oh never mind

    Florida's Batista-apologists are in a full-on whine: "Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan." See also "Florida Politicians Break on Party Lines Over Obama's State of the Union" and "South Florida lawmakers’ reactions to President Obama’s speech."

    Meanwhile, these "Cuban freedom fighters" have never asked Jeb Bush to account for his being "instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences, according to a [2002] book." Jebbie's "connections go back to 1984 when [he] began a close association with Camilo Padreda, a former intelligence officer with the Batista dictatorship overthrown by Fidel Castro."

    By the way, the book in question, the book has been positively reviewed by, among others, the venerable Foreign Affairs, which calls it as a "marvelous and evocative deconstruction of the incestuous relationships and hardball tactics that have kept Cuba firmly under Fidel Castro and U.S. policy toward Cuba paralyzed under the influence of Miami's Cuban Americans."


    Another fine FlaBagger

    "Curt Clawson Takes Aim at Obama in Tea Party Response to State of the Union."


    Form over substance

    "The nation’s highest court heard arguments in a case from Florida that tests whether states can prohibit judicial candidates from making personal appeals for campaign donations." "Justices debate Fla. judicial candidates' campaign appeals."