Updated: "Crist downplays ties to Rothstein"
"Is Something Rotten In The State Of Florida?"
[T]here are now three Crist moneymen caught up in alleged criminal or extremely shady activity."Three Crist Moneymen Caught Up In Alleged Criminal Or Shady Activity".
Crist, whose career has been fueled by his skill as a fundraiser, finds himself entangled with the trio of scandals just as his U.S. Senate primary campaign against conservative Marco Rubio is attracting national attention. And there's already talk down in Florida that the Crist-linked scandals may become a factor in the primary contest.
So what's it all about? Let's go to the tape.
Dozens of federal agents on Wednesday night raided the Fort Lauderdale law offices of attorney Scott Rothstein, a swaggering lawyer under investigation for allegedly masterminding an investment scam that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars."Federal agents raid Scott Rothstein's law offices". See also "Crist says accusations against major Fort Lauderale fund-raiser won't affect him", "Scott Rothstein: A Compassionate Heart" and "Abrams listed his boss Rothstein as reference for Crist appointment".
McCollum a Tea-Party victim?
Mike Thomas: "The Tea-Party rebellion against Republican Party bosses has attracted its latest Florida maverick — state Sen. Paula Dockery."
The choo-choo-killing queen of Lakeland wants to be governor. That requires ousting fellow Republican Bill McCollum, the tried, true and stale darling of the GOP Star Chamber.Much more Rubio-luvin' from Thomas here: "Paula Dockery has uphill run against Bill McCollum". Related: "Who’s afraid of Paula Dockery?"
Dockery joins Marco Rubio, the baby-faced assassin aiming for Charlie Crist in the race for U.S. Senate, as a party upstart.
One of them will win. And while I wish her well, it will not be Dockery. Here is why:
Rubio is running against a person: Charlie Crist.
Crist infuriates conservatives.
McCollum just puts them to sleep.
Who ... me?
"Crist is saying he did not endorse the $787 billion federal stimulus bill, a statement that might confuse some voters." "Gov. Crist denies endorsing federal stimulus bill".
"The ingredients to pack an ideological powder keg"
"After Tuesday's elections, Florida looms as the next front in a war between moderates and conservatives that's dividing a Republican Party trying to surge toward the 2010 election."
The state's GOP primary for U.S. Senate has all the ingredients to pack an ideological powder keg. It pits the sitting governor, Charlie Crist, who embraced President Barack Obama's spending plan, against a scrappy former state lawmaker, Marco Rubio, who has become a darling of the conservative movement."And it's all happening in the nation's biggest swing state, which typically leans Republican but fell for Obama in the 2008 election and has five statewide seats up for grabs in 2010."
Conservative groups active in a campaign in New York's 23rd congressional district that forced out a Republican they felt was too moderate say Florida is next on their agenda."Fight for heart of GOP may move to Florida".
And so it begins
"Club for growth launches TV spot smacking Charlie Crist on stimulus". See also "Republican Majority PAC gets behind Rubio". Related: "Insurgency pierces Crist's 'inevitability'".
"Citing a rash of corruption cases, a state senator is pushing for laws to combat bribery and restrict contact between the Public Service Commission and the utilities it regulates." "Florida Sen. Dan Gelber pushing for tougher public corruption laws".
"Consensus is building in the Florida Legislature to make the Public Service Commission operate more like judges by banning commissioners and their staff from communicating directly with the utilities they regulate." "Push begins for tougher PSC rules".
Will these people ever learn?
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "In April 29, the Republican-dominated Florida House voted 70-44 to reject an amendment that would have eased Floridians' eligibility for unemployment benefits and added $444 million in federal stimulus money to the state's unemployment fund. It was an inexplicable vote. The state's unemployment rate was 9.6 percent and climbing rapidly."
Rejecting the money was a case of putting ideology ahead of reality. "Once government provides that handout, it never takes it back," said Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, while other representatives claimed that accepting the money would lead to higher business taxes and less hiring. There's a time for such a position. Not then, with unemployment at its highest point in more than 30 years, certainly not now, with 1 million Floridians unemployed and a state jobless rate topping 11 percent ..."Florida's gain".
Ironically, Florida put itself in the same position during its last comparable economic collapse--the one that began in 1926 and stretched through the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Legislature in October 1931 made a point of telling President Hoover that it would not accept federal help for its unemployed. Less than a year later, the state was requesting emergency help to relieve unemployment.
It's time for a repeat reconsideration.
"GOP insurgent challenges Brown-Waite, cites her Scozzafava support".
"Crist wants special session on Fla. commuter rail".
"With their scramble to return campaign contributions from Scott Rothstein, Florida politicians are hewing to the political script. When there's bad news involving a donor, the drill is: return the money or give it to charity, express shock or dismay at the bad news — and rest assured that it ultimately won't make a bit of difference to the voters come Election Day." "What will the political fallout of Rothstein donations be?".
NRA nuttiness with a privatization twist
"The National Rifle Association is pushing [Florida] legislation to ban adoption agencies from asking potential parents if they have guns and ammunition in the home."
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said adoption agencies are violating gun-owners' rights by asking about firearms in an adoption form. She said any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government was tantamount to establishing a gun registry. ..."NRA: Ban adoption agencies from asking about gun ownership".
The issue flared up in Brevard County where a gun-owning couple took umbrage at a request from the Children's Home Society that they disclose if they had firearms before adopting a child.
The couple complained to a lawyer, who called Hammer. She said it would be easier to change the law rather than sue.
A spokeswoman for the Children's Home Society, Liz Bruner ... said that because the state child-welfare system is privatized, Children's Home Society is a subcontractor for a subcontractor and, therefore, communication with the state agency can be challenging.
Robert McKnight: "While the political community has been following the elections around the country, few noticed that Florida lost a political giant, former state Representative Marshall Harris, who passed away Monday in Miami. He was 77 years old."
Marshall, a Democrat from Miami, served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1966 to 1974, deciding to retire from elected service unbeaten. He was perhaps best known as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, during the administration of Speaker Dick Pettigrew (1972-1974)."Florida lost a political giant in Marshall Harris".
In a word, Marshall brought a no-nonsense requirement of accountability to the Legislature's process and the agencies it funded. It was said that he delighted in having the press join him for his periodic unannounced visits to Capitol agencies — this, mind you, from an unabashed liberal legislator.
Catherine Dolinski: "SunRail backers in the state Senate continue to press for a special session to jump start the Central Florida commuter rail project. But they have yet to convince House leaders, who question whether the Senate can deliver the necessary votes." "SunRail backers continue to push for special session".
RPOFers Slime their own
"Brevard County GOP Chairman Jason Steele said the [fake Twitter] account used his name and photo and sent tweets that hurt his character. One read, "Is 10:30 too early to make a drink?" Steele is recovering from alcoholism. Police traced the account to Republican Party field operations director Tim Nungesser." "GOP county chair victim of fake Twitter account". See also "Fake Twitter account, Republican Party of Florida feud linked". More: "Fellow GOP official behind fake 'tweets'".
"A nation that incarcerates more of our citizens per capita"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "With a budget-cutting 'exercise' demanded of the Department of Corrections, the Florida Legislature has an opportunity to shift into a smarter modus operandi in managing less-violent offenders."
A 10-percent cut from the DOC's prison spending, said Secretary Walt McNeil, could mean early release of prisoners, which is problematic given a variety of mandatory sentencing guidelines lawmakers give judges. A 10-percent cut could mean closing three state prisons and relocating prisoners, but prisons are big job-suppliers for many rural counties and politically popular. The cutback could also mean trimming private-prison contracts. ..."Incarceration escalation".
"We have become a nation that incarcerates more of our citizens per capita than any other nation," Mr. McNeil said in St. Petersburg on Friday at a conference on criminal justice sponsored by the Pew Center on the States and the John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice. He said that there has been no significant reform in our criminal justice system since 1965 and that the cost of continuing to build more and more prisons and incarcerate more and more citizens is "economically unsustainable."
Florida lawmakers, given a fiscal crisis, have strong reason to intervene in this downward spiral that does little but cost money. They have a chance to find a better balance between public safety and developing ways to turn around the lives of nonviolent offenders.
Wingnut revival tour to hit Orlando
"Sarah Palin book tour includes Orlando".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "In search of money to help pay off Miami International Airport's expansion, officials want the county to consider drilling for oil and gas at an old jet port that's now part of the Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve as one potential way to get money." "Don't go drill crazy in the Everglades".
"Greer offered a helping hand"
"Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer offered a helping hand to Sen. Paula Dockery, who’s complained that her party isn’t doing anything to aide her gubernatorial bid. Dockery announced yesterday she’s challenging Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum in a bid for governor and defying Greer’s wishes to avoid GOP primaries in high-profile (and expensive) races." "Greer to Dockery: Need help? Just ask!".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Between the time he stopped being mayor of Boca Raton (March 2008) and started being a Palm Beach County commissioner (March 2009), lawyer Steven Abrams represented a client who wanted to build an upscale bowling alley at the Boca Raton Airport. In that capacity, Mr. Abrams appeared before the Boca Raton Airport Authority." "End full-time moonlighting". Related: "Rival feels Abrams’ Rothstein link tilted field in his favor for Crist appointment".
The Junior Senator from Florida
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Warnings about how climate change could threaten the security of the U.S. and nations throughout the world will be sounded today at a conference at the University of Central Florida in Orlando."
"LeMieux's time to act".
Updated: "Fla. House panel won't delay Sansom ethics case". See also "House inquiry into Sansom to continue".
"Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom wants lawmakers to delay his ethics case until criminal charges against him are resolved. A lawyer for the Destin Republican is set to make that argument Thursday before the House Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct." "Fla. House panel asked to delay Sansom ethics case". See also "Fate of Sansom probe on agenda".
Meantime, "Ray Sansom is left with little to do but defend himself" and "Former Rep. Melvin joins race to replace Sansom".
"Burgin, 27, says arriving in the state capital with contacts in hand made for a smooth first session. She spent two years as an aide to former Rep. Trey Traviesa, whose seat she won when he abruptly stepped down and dropped out of the race in 2008. Before that, Burgin worked with then-Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair. She was also a White House intern." "Rep. Rachel Burgin readies for House battle".
"Polls showed Bill Foster trailing Kathleen Ford, and so in the waning days of the campaign, he began to portray Ford as a 'divider' and himself as a 'uniter.'" "Going negative boosted Foster".
"Brogan mends universities' ties with lawmakers".
Lobbyists always come home
"Thrasher, 65, has long been an influential figure in Tallahassee, serving as House speaker from 1998 to 2000 and later as one of the Capitol's best-known lobbyists. He has already snagged key committee assignments, including being appointed chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and receiving a seat on the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee." "King successor Sen. Thrasher sworn into office".