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 Wednesday, May 12, 2010

McCollum's political rent boy scandal

    It is now no secret that "Attorney General Bill McCollum personally requested that the state's Department of Children and Families hire antigay psychologist George Rekers at $300 an hour as an expert witness to defend Florida's ban on gay people adopting". "McCollum requested antigay expert now embroiled in Rentboy scandal".

    At Huffington Post, Michael Rogers, director of the National Blogger & Citizen Journalist Initiative asks if you "remember Mr. Haney of Green Acres fame? Out of nowhere he'd show up in his truck full of junk and try to sell you something you didn't need for a problem you didn't have."
    The characters on Green Acres were smart enough to send Mr. Haney on his way but not Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum.

    When George Rekers, the 61-year-old founder of the rabidly anti-gay Family Research Council showed up full of junk science, discredited testimony and a willingness to say anything to defend Florida's ban on gays adopting McCollum saw an ideological bargain at any price. ...

    Here is how it played out: Bill McCollum needed "expert" testimony for a case in which he defended Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples. Unable to find a reputable witness, McCollum paid Mr. Haney - er, I mean George Rekers -- $120,000 in taxpayer money. This after McCollum knew Rekers was a long discredited ideologue that multiple courts had already deemed worthless as an expert witness.
    "What did McCollum do?"
    He paid an unqualified zealot who will endorse McCollum's anti-gay political posturing under the guise of "expert testimony." Bill McCollum did it because he was willing to pay for a discredited witness who would ignore the clear scientific facts and the real, lived experience of millions of gay parents and their children to bring a hateful, ideologically-driven message about gay people.

    Hiring rent boys like Lucien for European trips is one thing, hiring political rent boys like Rekers, paid to move an extremist agenda is something entirely different. Floridians want their money back. Perhaps McCollum can call Arkansas for help.
    "Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum caught in rent boy scandal". See also "McCollum on Rentboy flap: 'It's nice to quarterback in 40-40 hindsight'" and "".

    $120,000 gets you a lot of bag handling: "State doubled fee paid to anti-gay psychologist in Rentboy scandal". See also "Anti-gay 'expert' carries unsavory baggage" ("Rekers didn't help his cause by claiming that recent surgery required he hire a 'travel assistant' to tote his luggage.")

    And what can you say to this: "Bill McCollum's gay senior adviser adopted children".

    All they got?

    "Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has drawn national attention from his provocative comments geared to his left-wing base and made himself a target for Republicans in November."

    But for now the GOP is focusing on sorting out the crowded field of candidates in the competitive Orlando-area district – a field that was upended when Daniel Webster entered the race several days before the state’s April 30 filing deadline. Webster, a widely-respected conservative leader who has been both state House speaker and state Senate majority leader, was once viewed as a field-clearer when he mulled the race last year but his indecision has created a logjam of credible candidates.
    "Crowded Republican field targets Alan Grayson".

    Scott luvs the Tea-Baggin'

    Nathan Daschle, Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association: "Two developments this weekend should keep perennial GOP candidate Bill McCollum up at night."

    First -- after Utah Senator Bob Bennett's defeat, an emboldened Tea Party is looking for even more establishment candidates to take down. Republicans like longtime strategist Ed Rogers admit that Bennett's loss is "proof that the Tea Party movement is a huge presence in the GOP organization."

    Second -- polling out this weekend suggests the Tea Partiers' next victory could be over Florida Attorney General McCollum, an establishment darling who just shed 26 points in his primary against a Tea Party candidate.

    The Tea Partiers have found their ideal candidate -- one who speaks their language and is putting in the resources to back it up. Just a few weeks ago, former health care executive Rick Scott joined the race and has since run hard to the right. Scott has already poured nearly $5 million in ads on TV and launched his first radio spot -- a self-titled "Florida Conservative Commentary" to discuss his close relationship with the Tea Party. In the weeks since he announced his candidacy, Scott has risen from a virtual unknown to capturing 24 percent of the vote.
    "Is Bill McCollum the Next Victim of the GOP Civil War?". See also "Poll: Newcomer Scott closes in on McCollum in GOP governor's primary".

    Inasmuch as the Tea-Baggers can't find the phrase "oil drilling" in the Constitution, it is no surprise to read this morning that "Republican Scott says he would support offshore drilling as governor". Related: "Maine GOP Platform HIJACKED By Tea Party".

    Crist's special session gambit

    "If oil and gas companies have the most to lose from a constitutional ban on offshore drilling, then Gov. Charlie Crist's U.S. Senate campaign might have the most to gain."

    Or as former governor and senator Bob Graham puts it, "There is significantly more upside than downside for him."

    Crist on Tuesday said lawmakers will return to the Capitol for a special session "in the next couple of weeks."

    After six special sessions during his first three years as governor, Crist knows his office attracts significant media attention as he wields control over the limited agenda of an emergency legislative session.

    But the political risk for Crist, some say, is if voters decide the real emergency is his political standing instead of oil flooding the Gulf of Mexico.
    "Politics nudges drilling for spotlight, as Governor Crist calls special session on drilling". See also "Gov. Charlie Crist calls special legislative session on oil drilling", "Crist to call special session to ban offshore oil drilling" and "Offshore-oil-drilling ban might be on ballot".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Oil and politics". Related: "'This is a siege,' Florida Cabinet told during spill briefing", "Business Task Force Created to Buffer State from Oil Spill" and "Updated: Crist creating the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force".

    The wingnuts ain't happy: "Cretul: Special Session Wasteful, Distracting, Unnecessary".

    Dem Crist defectors

    "Prominent Broward Democrat Lori Parrish open to supporting Crist’s indie Senate bid".

    The Charlie might win, and he ain't really that bad, approach - including the rumor "that President Obama does not intend to support Meek too actively, in the interest of allowing the already-ahead Crist to defeat the avowed administration opponent Rubio" - comes in for some criticism in a dKos post yesterday: "Some Observations on the Florida Senate Race" ("I humbly suggest that Mr. Crist's coronation as the next US Senator from Florida is premature")

    Big oil advances

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "On Monday, Gov. Crist announced that he had formed the Oil Spill Legal Advisory Council.... One of the council's first moves should be to get big advances from the three companies whose executives batted blame back and forth. The legal threshold for such a move is fairly high, but especially after the Senate testimony Florida has public relations on its side. The money would be held in escrow and any balance returned if - and we'd sure like this to be the case - damage in Florida turned out to be less than feared." "Florida needs big advances: Get them from companies passing buck on oil leak.".


    "Florida attorney general starts website about Gulf of Mexico oil spill".

    "Decision that will define Crist's ideology"

    "It is another decision that will define Charlie Crist's political ideology, but more importantly, it's a choice that could lead Florida to an inequitable process for restricting abortions. That alone is justification enough for Crist to veto HB 1143, a one time nondescript health care bill that has been hijacked for ideological causes." "Abortion bill puts governor on the spot".


    "Responding to questions from state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner Kevin McCarty offered a presentation to the Cabinet on Tuesday on what his office has done about two financially unstable insurance companies." "OIR Defends Policies Before Cabinet".

    Friends in high places

    "As more political skeletons emerge from Gov. Charlie Crist's closet, one remains buried -- and fully employed -- in the Broward County Sheriff's Office. Nearly five months after Sheriff Al Lamberti was presented pictorial evidence of his undersheriff, Tom Wheeler, kibitzing with Ponzi king Scott Rothstein, an internal investigation has yet to reach a conclusion about misconduct." "Crist Cronies Are the Law in Broward County".

    Charlie's big day

    Today "will be a big day for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, with Crist switching parties from Republican to independent -- really, it will be official this time on a legal document." "Crist To Change Voter Registration To Independent Wednesday". More Charlie: "Crist Camp Edits Out 'Conservative' From His 'Consistent Leadership'".

    "Spill Baby, Spill"

    "Sen. Bill Nelson to CNN: It's going to take disastrous oil spill to clamp down on big oil". See also "'Spill, Baby, Spill': Oil Hearings Bring Out Political Drama". More: "Blame game on Capitol Hill".

    RPOFers in a dollar dither

    "Crist's decision to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent has left a bunch of big-name contributors with a decision to make: Do they follow the angry dictate of furious Republican Party officials and demand their money back? Or not?"

    When the Orlando Sentinel spoke with more than a dozen big Crist donors, most remained behind him.

    "I'm going to stick with Charlie Crist," said New York businessman Howard Lorber, a frequent contributor to candidates of both parties, who gave Crist $4,800 in May 2009.

    "I've known Charlie for many years, and I am loyal to him now," agreed Orlando attorney and GOP fundraiser Kenneth W. Wright, who gave $4,800 last summer.

    Contrasting is state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who did not sign the open letter but wants Crist to return the $4,200 Gaetz gave him last year.

    "The day that Charlie Crist walked away from those of us who have carried him on our shoulders for so many campaigns, I put a Marco Rubio sticker on the back of my Jeep," Gaetz said. "I've asked for my money back. And when I get it — and I fully expect to get it — I plan on sending it to Marco Rubio."

    A few donors contacted by the Sentinel declined to say what they will do.

    More than 1,000 contributors have given Crist the maximum amount of $4,800 apiece. Among them are some big names: Cardenas; Republican fundraiser (and former Jeb Bush partner) Armando Codina; former state senator and Florida education secretary Jim Horne; ousted Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer; and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral, who recently quit as Crist's campaign chairman.
    "Big donors face question: Demand refund from Crist?".

    "Scholastic skullduggery"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "For years, Florida high schools have airbrushed graduation rates by shifting to adult-education centers thousands of pupils whose poor grades would blemish schools' pristine numbers."


    The state never should have tolerated this scholastic skullduggery. Shameful.

    Floridians ought to be alarmed at the sleight-of-hand that makes marginal students and mediocre benchmarks disappear. Moreover, the cooked books raise legitimate concerns about whether state school districts are more committed to poor students or good statistics.

    Think of it as scholastic cosmetic surgery: a little nip-and-tuck of foundering students with sagging grades dramatically lifts the school's graduation rate.
    "Give honest graduation rates".

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