Did RPOF secret agreement violate state law?
"A growing number of senior Florida Republican leaders are calling for an outside legal review of the secret fundraising contract that paid former Executive Director Delmar Johnson nearly $200,000 last year."
"And there's a growing disagreement about whether the secrecy of the agreement violated party rules or state law."
Robert Sechen, a Tallahassee lawyer who served as the party's general counsel and chief financial officer from 2002 to 2004, said he would not have signed off on the contract because it required keeping a secret from the party's own governing panels."Florida GOP leaders question secret deal's legality".
"I would never approve that because of the secrecy clause," he said, when contacted by the Sentinel. "Everything the party does is technically secret. But for a document to say, 'You can't share with the RPOF Finance Committee,' that is violative of the constitution of the RPOF itself."
Sechen said it might also run afoul of a state law governing Florida political parties that makes it a third-degree felony for a chairman or treasurer to knowingly make "a false or improper accounting for" political money.
"The issue is the attempt to deceive here," said Sechen. But, he conceded, "There is no case law on any of this stuff."
On Tuesday, McCollum said he asked another former RPOF lawyer, Richard Coates, for a legal opinion and that his first-blush legal take was that the contract appeared legal, if "outrageous." To break the law, the two men concluded, the contract would have had to result in money being diverted without being disclosed, and the payments to Victory Strategies were disclosed in the party's federal election reports.
"Senate candidate Marco Rubio reveled in support from conservatives looking for a voice Wednesday in a part-fundraiser, part-pep rally that brought full circle one of the most stunning reversals in Florida politics."
"From tea parties to marches, from New Jersey to Virginia, from Massachusetts and soon even here in Florida . . . all across this country people are making it very clear,'' Rubio told more than 300 people at the so-called hug rally sponsored by FreedomPAC, a conservative network group led by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey. "What they're going to choose in 2010 are leaders who will stand up to this agenda and offer a clear alternative.''"Rubio criticizes stimulus package at fundraiser". See also "Rubio rallies at site of Crist/Obama hug". Related: "Tea Party Poorly Understood".
Armey was home sick, and the audience was significantly smaller than the 1,500 people who attended Obama's town hall-style meeting at the same venue last year. Though it was far from a raucous crowd, the mostly white, middle-aged people in the audience showed their enthusiasm, carrying American flags and signs that read "Attention Washington, I am not your ATM'' and "Prescription: Our Gov't Needs A Bi-Partisan Enema.'' ...
Rubio has remained popular among national conservative Republicans who help fund campaigns. He was endorsed this week by U.S. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 Republican in the House, and by Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.
"Florida Republicans slide into credibility gulch"
Bill Cotterell: "Whatever is in the Florida Republican Party's financial records probably can't be as bad as its refusal to, as one candidate for governor put it, 'come clean.'"
For Florida Republicans, the slide into credibility gulch started last August, when Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer publicly cut his American Express card in half — announcing he had recalled all party-issued charge cards. State Attorney Willie Meggs had subpoenaed records of former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who ran up some $173,000 in tabs during two years as speaker-designate — including some items at Best Buy and Starbucks, along with hotel and airfares that seemed hard to explain as party business.Much more here: "State GOP has formula to restore its credibility".
Greer resisted calls for his ouster, due to the financial quagmire and his decision to take sides in party primaries for governor and the Senate, but finally gave in, effective Feb. 20. It was disclosed this month that Greer signed a secret fund-raising contract that paid nearly $200,000 to Delmar Johnson, the party's former executive director, who drew more than $400,000 in total salary, commissions and expenses.
Then this week, we learned that House speaker-designate Dean Cannon pulled $665,000 out of party coffers at about the time of Greer's resignation and stashed it in a separate political fund. The clear implication was that he didn't want money he'd raised for electing Republicans to be spent on massages, lavish dinners and first-class jet tickets by party officers.
Top foreclosure rate
"Broward has Florida's top foreclosure rate".
Debt settlement vendors
"Three Southwest Florida legislators are aiming to secure the economic climate by empowering a state agency with tighter control over debt settlement vendors and international banks and trusts." "Three Southwest Florida lawmakers seek to rein in financial groups".
"Growth expert critical of Amendment 4 on November ballot".
"It has the potential of a bombshell: Some of the biggest names in Florida politics, including U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, raising their hands and swearing to tell the truth about what they knew of state Rep. Ray Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college."
private talks were being held on a settlement in which Sansom could accept some level of responsibility in damaging public trust in the House."Marco Rubio may be called to testify in Ray Sansom case". See also "Committee in Sansom probe issues subpoenas" and "Negotiations under way in Sansom investigation; Rubio to receive subpoena".
The move would avoid a highly embarrassing trial not just for Sansom, R-Destin, but scores of other officials who would be exposed to intense media coverage.
This "highly embarrassing trial" will of course never take place - it is just a matter of when and how the RPOF will gracefully sweep it all under the rug.
Lawsuit challenges restrictions on impact fees
"Local governments filed suit to overturn new restrictions on local impact fees Wednesday, saying the Legislature unconstitutionally forced them to prove their fees are accurate." "Local governments file suit over state's new impact-fee law".
Your Chamber dues at work
"Sarah Palin -- who was slated to sign copies of her book "Going Rogue" in Daytona Beach this weekend -- will instead be autographing on Monday morning. There are also more tickets available to hear her speak at a Chamber of Commerce dinner that night." "Palin book signing changed; tickets available for speech".
Related: "Palin Unqualified To Be President, Says Vast Majority Of America".
Trial lawyers hire Schale
"In an effort to regain credibility, the powerful trial lawyer lobby hired one of the state's top Democratic campaign consultants to guide its political strategy. Steve Schale, 35, the Obama campaign's Florida director, will serve as political director for the Florida Justice Association, which is limping into the 2010 legislative session after an embarrassing mea culpa last year." "Trial lawyers hire Obama campaign boss".
Blame the unions
The Miami Herald editorial board does what editors do best - blame the unions:
As it is, only non-union workers -- about 11 percent of the city's employees -- have taken pay cuts since the budget passed last fall. City Manager Pete Hernandez continues to negotiate with the unions for them to take their share of cuts. So far, zilch."Snowed-in with a crater of debt".
Every day that passes puts Miami in a bigger hole -- projections of a budget shortfall for this year vary from $22 million to $45 million, which would deplete already thin reserves. And another $101 million hole is anticipated for next year.
Fixing this without fundamental changes to the city's pensions and union contracts simply can't be done.
The delightful workings of the Miami Herald editorial process are all too familiar: these are the same courageous editorial page writers whom originally "voted 9 to 2 to endorse Walter Mondale. But one of the two was the publisher, Richard Capen Jr., who insisted on Ronald Reagan."
Capen then promptly "overruled [the] editorial board decision to endorse Walter F. Mondale", and the paper endorsed Reagan.
Capen was in turn rewarded for his GOPerness by, among other things, an appointment as Ambassador to Spain."
No oil drilling, please
"Beachside communities and environmentalists have planned a statewide protest against offshore oil-drilling for Saturday." "Florida beach towns plan anti-oil drilling protest".
"Spare residents, boards expensive legal battles"
"Many Florida homeowners pay more in homeowners association fees than they do in property taxes to local governments. The associations, set up to preserve community standards and maintain common property, can wield tremendous authority. Like local governments, associations (known as HOAs) have significant power to govern the lives of their members and can levy fines on rulebreakers." "Watching the watchdogs".