"The paradox of Scott's upstart campaign"
"As he meets Republicans around Florida, Rick Scott, the new front-runner in the Florida governor's race, has been greeted with applause -- and with blunt questions about his past."
It's the paradox of Scott's upstart campaign: The novice candidate has touted his stature and experience as the get-things-done CEO of what was once the nation's largest for-profit healthcare company, while also trying to distance himself from Columbia/HCA's notorious legacy of fraud."The strategy has worked so far. Thanks largely to a $16 million advertising blitz he financed himself, Scott -- who moved to Florida seven years ago -- now leads in the polls over fellow Republican Bill McCollum, the state attorney general and former congressman."
He has denied knowing frauds were taking place while he was there, and he was never charged with any crimes.Much more here: "Rick Scott and his role in Columbia/HCA scandal". See also "" and "".
However, federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.
The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies -- most committed during Scott's tenure -- in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion.
Scott declined interview requests from The Miami Herald, and though his campaign issued a statement, it did not respond to specific questions about his tenure at Columbia/HCA.
"Both candidates face long odds"
Randy Schultz: "One important question didn't come up during Tuesday's Democratic Senate debate: What are your chances of winning?"
Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek should be glad that they didn't have to face the question. Each would have had to answer, "Slim." For all the liveliness of the 90-minute debate at The Post, both candidates face long odds."The Democrats' Senate problem".
Papers please "law may not gain much traction"
Kingsley Guy: "Is an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida's future? Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott wants one, and now Attorney General Bill McCollum, Scott's GOP rival in the primary, says he supports the Arizona law as amended. So does GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio."
Yet, the push for such a law may not gain much traction in the Sunshine State. That's because the Arizona law isn't only about illegal immigration. It's also about violent crime related to the importation of illegal drugs across the Mexican border. Roll the clock back 30 years, and Floridians might be as vocal as Arizonans."Sunshine State won't follow Arizona".
"In adddition to the more than 70 calls that have been made to the St. Johns River fish-kill hotline with reports of dead fish, area organizations have started getting calls to report another ailing species: birds." "Could pollution in the St. Johns River be leading to bird deaths?".
Grayson and the teabaggers
An extensive piece in TPM the other day: "The pieces of the Florida Tea Party puzzle are all a bit strange, and none fit together quite right."
Republicans and activists say voters are being duped by former Democrats, an anti-tax radio host and college students who took an odd alliance and made it into an official third party -- the Florida Tea Party -- to put "TEA" on the ballot for the first time this fall. State Democrats were amused by the whole thing until several links between the Florida Tea Party group and Rep. Alan Grayson surfaced, complicating everything."Is The 'Florida Tea Party' Tied To Dem Alan Grayson?". See also "Through a Tea Party Darkly" and "".
TPM has tracked down all the players, from a 23-year-old who caught tea fever to a talk radio station owner who canned two Tea Party members, and one thing is clear. When it comes to tea in Florida, everyone seems to be pointing a finger at everyone else.
Florida Medical Association disses Scott
"It is hard not to read this as a high-profile rebuff to sudden GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Rick Scott. Despite (or perhaps because of?) his past as a top-level exec in the health care industry, the Florida Medical Association PAC decided to endorse his opponent, Bill McCollum." "McCollum endorsement a medical diss to Scott?"
Thomas Tryon: "Internet has changed the rules of the political game".
Barton's "obscene insensitivity to suffering"
Here's a taste of Carl Hiassen's most recent column, "Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality": "Far from Pensacola Beach, where tears were shed last week, a certifiable idiot named Joe Barton was apologizing to BP because President Obama had pressured the company into creating a $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the Deepwater Horizon accident."
Barton is a Republican congressman whose district in Texas includes Arlington and parts of Fort Worth, a long way from the Gulf of Mexico. Although he later was forced to apologize for his apology to BP, Barton was cheered by some Tea Party bloggers and others who accuse Obama of shaking down the oil giant.There's much more here.
Talk about misplaced sympathy.
Being clueless is one thing. To showcase such an obscene insensitivity to suffering is something else.
With the encroaching oil slick comes a mugging for all whose livelihood depends on the robust health of the Gulf. Hotels stand nearly empty, shop and restaurant workers are being laid off, and fishing boats sit idle at the docks.
"Every time a relief well misses the target, its crew must back up the drill bit and try again. It's extraordinarily difficult." "Relief well far from certain to work right away". See also "Protesters join hands on Florida beaches to protest offshore drilling", "Hundreds in Palm Beach County join hands across beaches to protest offshore drilling" and "Judge who killed drilling ban a hero in Louisiana" ("In a state where the oil industry employs 32,000, some fear a moratorium on deepwater drilling will make a bad situation unbearable.")
Entrepreneurs in action
"Charges of fraud dog oil spill boom supplier".
That Libertarian Party stuff
Howard Troxler: "A paradox faces any third-party candidate for office: People don't take you seriously because not enough people take you seriously. So I feel some empathy for Alex Snitker, a Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida this year. ... Snitker's major policy points:"
• Replacing the federal income tax with a sales tax (that is, a tax on consumption), with no loopholes or favors. People under the poverty line would not pay the tax; everybody else would.Much more here: "The usual suspects and Alex Snitker, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate". See also "Senate Libertarian candidate supports nullifying health care reform, Arizona immigration policy".
• A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, although allowing a deficit by a 60 percent vote of Congress in times of war or emergency.
• An "enumerated powers" law that would basically put an expiration date on the federal government, requiring a review of whether each function is truly within the powers of Congress as listed in the Constitution. For starters, he would abolish the departments of Education, Energy and maybe Commerce.
• Term limits of 12 years total for service in the House and Senate. You could serve three two-year House terms and still run for a six-year Senate term, but that would be it — you couldn't serve longer in the House and then run for a six-year Senate term.
• An audit or even abolition of the Federal Reserve.
• Withdrawal of most overseas U.S. forces, except for bases essential to protecting shipping lanes. "I would finish up in Iraq and not leave any bases there," he said. "I would find Osama bin Laden and then come home." His rule for military intervention: when Congress declares war.
• Addressing the problem of illegal immigrants by cracking down on employers who hire them. That crackdown, along with his tax on spending instead of an income tax that can be dodged, will have a major effect, Snitker argues.
"We are hypocrites when we chastise others"
Bill Maxwell: "We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farmworker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others."
In its recent report, "Fields of Peril: Child Labor in U.S. Agriculture," Human Rights Watch shows that the United States is not protecting hundreds of thousands of children who work in agriculture."U.S. failing to protect young farmworkers".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's public employee pension fund, facing an unfunded liability after losses in the market downturn, now wants to gamble more in hedge funds and other unregulated investments. " "No gambling with pension fund".
"Weatherford has led a charmed political life"
"By all accounts, Will Weatherford has led a charmed political life. He was plucked out of general obscurity in 2006 just weeks before the election to replace longtime Republican Ken Littlefield on the ballot. His opponent in that race, a 26-year-old Democrat with no funding and a history of mental health issues, suffered a nervous breakdown during the campaign."
District 61, which encompasses much of central and east Pasco and parts of New Tampa, is solidly Republican. The district has not elected a Democrat for more than 40 years. For Weatherford, a former high school football star with monumental political connections, the first election was a cakewalk. His name wasn't even on the ballot, but Weatherford still took 60 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2008."Weatherford has primary foe".
Now at age 30, he's in line to become the youngest speaker of the House since 1957. Younger even than Marco Rubio, who was 34 when he was elected speaker. But first he must do something he's never had to do before, win a primary.
Tea party activist Kevin Wright is hoping to capitalize on anti-incumbent fever that has influenced some recent elections. He said the Florida GOP has been corrupted by "big money."
GOPer money machines
"In a campaign season of anti-establishment ferment, some of the Republican Party's best-known insiders are building an ambitious fundraising machine for the fall elections and beyond."
They started with a bang in April, cashing a $1 million check from a Texas oil magnate. After a quiet May, friends and foes are watching to see if the new organization's core group, American Crossroads, can reach its goal of raising $52 million by November."New GOP group plans to spend millions this fall".
Karl Rove, who was President George W. Bush's top political strategist, and Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman and White House aide, modeled their network on successful operations created by Democrats several years ago. ...
But eyebrows rose in political circles when the group filed its next monthly report with the Internal Revenue Service, showing only $200 raised in May.
Steven Law, a former U.S. Chamber of Commerce lawyer and now president of American Crossroads, said the group has about $30 million in pledges that Rove, Gillespie and others secured during recent trips to various cities.
"A feisty contest"
"This year's state legislative races in South Florida includes a feisty contest that could divide Broward's gay and black communities, former state legislators attempting a comeback, and a handful of tea party activists hoping to make their way to Tallahassee." "'Apprentice,' tea party members in races for Tallahassee".
"Millionaire, self-funding political candidates"
William March: "This election year is seeing a dramatic rise in millionaire, self-funding political candidates, and Florida is a center of the action."
Rick Scott, a former health care executive with a nine-digit fortune, looks like the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor. Jeff Greene, a real estate investor reportedly worth $1 billion to $2 billion, is near the front of the pack in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary."Mood, wealth work in hopefuls' favor". Related: "U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene delays disclosing his 'complicated' finances".
Both are newcomers to Florida politics, but they are suddenly threatening establishment political candidates, largely because they're spending millions of their money on their campaigns.
That follows the dramatic success of two wealthy, self-funded Republican primary candidates in California.
"St. Pete Pride parade draws thousands".
No nonunion employers, please
"A nonunion Fort Lauderdale stevedore's battle for permission to work at the Port of Miami offers a rare look at doing business on the waterfront." "Shut out of port, firm cries foul".