Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-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 Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dem Fundraising Mess

    Dem Fundraising Mess

    "A fundraising effort launched by Democratic legislators to elect or keep members of the party in the state Legislature raised more than $1 million in apparently illegal campaign donations during the past two years, a review of state records shows."
    State law caps contributions to candidates and political committees that support candidates to $500 from each individual donor. But two political committees set up to help elect Democratic legislators accepted donations far in excess of $500, in one case taking a $50,000 check from the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association.
    The two groups involved in this mess are
    Florida House Victory and Florida Senate Victory, each of which registered at the time as a political committee. The two committees weren't created until 2003, when legislative leaders decided to break fundraising operations away from the Florida Democratic Party.
    And why was that?
    "We did not put the money in the party because I had some difficulty with the leadership of the party," said state Sen. Les Miller, a Tampa Democrat, who along with Rep. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, was in control of fundraising for Democratic campaigns in 2003.

    Smith said many donors didn't want to give money directly to the Democratic Party, so legislative leaders needed another way to accept the contributions.

    While Smith and Miller approved setting up Florida Senate Victory and Florida House Victory in April 2003, the leaders listed in IRS records were Jeff Ryan, a longtime fundraiser for the Democratic Party and brother of state Rep. Tim Ryan, and Joe Perry, now a top fundraiser for Sen. Rod Smith, a candidate for governor.
    There's more:
    Rep. Smith said he didn't even know that Florida House Victory had registered with the state as a political committee in summer 2004. Smith maintained that everything that was done was "run by the attorneys."
    The old standby, blame the lawyers.
    But one of those attorneys, Mark Herron, said he told Ryan in July 2004: "You guys need to shut this thing down." When asked why he gave that advice, Herron bluntly replied: "Because it was operating contrary to the requirements of Florida law." ...

    Ron Meyer, a lawyer for Florida Senate Victory, blamed everything on a change in state law and a mix-up with state officials. He said the organization did not plan to give money to candidates even though it registered as a political committee. Meyer said the group only registered because of a 2004 law that changed which groups needed to file with the state. Meyer said that because Florida Senate Victory did not give any money to candidates between July 2004 and February 2005, it wasn't breaking the law when it accepted contributions above $500.
    "Democrats violated caps on donations". For some background, see "Political Organization Guidelines".

    Double Dipping?

    "Pros, cons of limiting legislators' other jobs". For a different take, see "State Lawmakers Don't Need A Raise".

    "Florida's dawdling demands court oversight"

    "Florida's governor went to Washington two months ago to convince his brother's administration that the state, not a federal judge, should have the last word on Everglades restoration per the 1994 Everglades Forever Act. It's a wonder Jeb Bush, blood or not, wasn't laughed out of town." "Everglades cleanup".

    Angst Ridden Charlie Apologizes

    "After being chastised by a circuit judge for meddling in a whistle-blower lawsuit, Attorney General Charlie Crist apologized on Friday but defended himself by calling the case a matter 'of great public concern.'" "Judge gets Crist's apology and defense". Here's what the fuss is all about:

    Leon County Circuit Judge Thomas Bateman removed Crist's office from the case April 5, a day after lawyers for the office asked for more time to investigate the case even though they had asked a different judge in an emergency hearing a few days earlier to unseal the case, which had been filed Jan. 5. State law requires whistle-blower, or qui tam, cases to be sealed for 90 days after they are filed to allow prosecutors to investigate before tipping off defendants and others.
    "Crist's office apologizes to judge". Get this, the
    AG says public angst forced his hand in Convergys case
    "Crist sorry for actions in suit". See also "Crist asks to enter whistleblower case".

    Diebold Flip-Flop

    "Diebold Election Systems said Friday it will sell voting machines to Leon County, enabling the county that includes the state capital to come into compliance with federal voting law." "Vote machine firm relents, will sell to Leon County". See also "Sancho cuts a deal". In any event,

    this latest turn of events in no way addresses the overarching problem at the root of Mr. Sancho's headaches: state laws that put too much control of a constitutionally protected right in the hands of private companies and have weakened the vote verification process.

    And there is no evidence whatever that state officials think that's a problem.
    "Sort of fixed".

    Session News

    - "As usual, much work remaining in final weeks of Legislature".

    - "Housing idea aids public workers".

    - "Outlook dismal for 'sunshine' as lawmakers try to block light".

    - "Developers Want Counties Out Of Wetlands Decisions".

    The Trial Lawyer Thing

    "Trial Lawyers, Crist And Gallagher".

    GOoPer Fight Threatens Vouchers

    "Republicans in the Florida Senate are split over the man they want as their leader in two years and the resulting acrimony has paralyzed the chamber to the point it threatens to quash Gov. Jeb Bush's legislative priorities."

    The fight is over which South Florida lawmaker will be in charge of the 40-member chamber beginning in November 2008, assuming Republicans keep a majority -- Alex Villalobos or Jeff Atwater.

    Bush is strongly pushing government-sponsored vouchers for private schools and supports an amendment that would erase a limit on public school class sizes. Both are endangered because of the disagreement. ...

    "Bills have been held up and people have been pressured," said Villalobos, a 42-year-old Miami attorney who was slated to become president until he was challenged in February by Atwater, who appears to have enough support to win the post.
    "GOP fight over state Senate presidency threatens legislation".

    Vote "Changing"

    "When legislators push the green button on their desk to cast a yea vote or the red button for a nay vote, it might appear to most people that the legislators have cemented their stance on a bill. But appearances can be deceiving in the Florida Legislature." "Can I change my vote? How lawmakers sometimes flip-flop (unofficially anyway)".

    "Republican dragon slayer"?

    "To Florida Democrats frustrated by years of losing statewide elections, Rod Smith's campaign for governor presents the candidate as a Republican dragon slayer. The claim is true but misleading, a closer examination of Smith's electoral record shows." "Smith's Claims True, But ...".

    Lay Down With Dogs ...

    and you get primary opponents like this:

    Randall Terry, a leader of the fight to keep Terri Schiavo alive, vowed to oust from power the legislator he blames most for the severely brain-damaged woman's death last year.

    But Terry's challenge to former state Senate President Jim King -- one of the most powerful players in state politics -- is off to a slow start.

    Campaign-finance reports released this week show that King, whose district stretches from Daytona Beach to north of Jacksonville, is out-raising Terry nearly 7-to-1, with total contributions of $290,015 compared with Terry's $43,130.

    But Terry -- as well as political analysts -- warn that it would be a mistake to write off the longtime anti-abortion activist, who returned to prominence a year ago during the protracted battle over Schiavo.
    "Activist uses Schiavo case in race for state Senate".

    More From The "Values" Crowd

    "Health efforts for poor could lose state funds".

    GOopers Ain't Green

    "Quick. Name a Republican environmentalist."

    Federal Republican legislators were ranked on key environmental issues in the House and Senate in 2005. Among them were the Endangered Species Act, oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and increasing fuel economies in cars.

    Most scores were closer to the bottom, including those of the Florida delegation.
    The GOoPer response, well ... it needs a bit of updating:
    Republicans pride themselves on pointing out stellar performers in the past, chiefly Teddy Roosevelt, who founded the National Refuge system 103 years ago.
    "Group rates GOP's rep on environment".

    "Pruitt did not return phone calls for this story"

    "Florida International University officials have been quietly trying to sell 26 environmentally sensitive bayfront acres to developers to raise $100 million, and they apparently enlisted incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt in their efforts." "Pruitt was recruited to help FIU sell sensitive land".

    Kissimmee River

    "The state says it has enough land to restore the Kissimmee River. But will the state have too many people to restore the Kissimmee River?" "Development could ruin revived Kissimmee River".

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