Has it come to this ... Wayne Newton?
"Long before criminal investigations shook the Republican Party of Florida, office manager Susan Wright noticed a problem, she says: Higher-ups were spending party money to help themselves instead of the GOP."
There were the thousands of dollars dropped in Las Vegas restaurants, a casino resort and a Wayne Newton concert."Bosses binged on meals, concerts, cigars, GOP ex-aide says".
She says she saw thousands more in questionable expenses for trips and swank accommodations in Boston, Beverly Hills and Miami.
And she says she was among the first Republican staffers to voice concerns about a $200,000 party contract with a shell company called Victory Strategies, which is now at the center of the fraud and theft charges against former Chairman Jim Greer, who has pleaded not guilty. ...
Now a witness in the state criminal case against Greer, Wright is breaking months of public silence to detail for The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald the problems she saw at party headquarters under Greer and his right-hand man, Delmar Johnson, who is avoiding jail time in return for testifying against Greer.
"McCollum's latest 'me, too' moment"
"The Obama administration's attempt last week to kill Arizona's tough new immigration law had both of Florida's GOP candidates for governor racing to upstage the other's support for tough enforcement."
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum wrote to Gov. Charlie Crist asking that state agencies and, if possible, state contractors use E-Verify, an Internet-based system to confirm the legal status of all employees."Arizona law stirs Florida gubernatorial primary season".
"Having been involved with the immigration issue for a long time, it seems to me that the key to all this, to making it work, is to enforce the sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens," McCollum, a former congressman, said Wednesday.
But Rick Scott billed it as McCollum's latest "me, too" moment on immigration. The previous week, Scott had called for all employers in the state to use E-Verify.
"At the peak of the housing frenzy, California landlord Jeff Greene made a shrewd move that countless American investors and homeowners wish they would have mimicked. He bet that borrowers who took out subprime mortgages would default. The trade paid off big, netting Greene profits of perhaps $500 million, perhaps $800 million - all for an investment of about $24 million. Greene's win pushed him from millionaire to billionaire and was detailed in the 2009 book The Greatest Trade Ever." "How Senate candidate Greene made hundreds of millions betting that supbrime mortgages would default".
Where was "Jeb!"?
"1983 document shows Florida's oil strategy largely unchanged".
"In the heat of immigration debate across the nation, growers and farmworker advocates are pressing for passage of the federal legislation known as Agjobs. The bill, which has been on the brink of passage several times, continues to have widespread support from agricultural groups, farmworker advocates and religious organizations across the state." "Push resumes for AgJobs bill to allow farmworker illegals to stay".
Fun with petards
Howard Troxler has a little fun with petards, reminding us that
millionaire and nouveau candidate for governor Rick Scott filed a lawsuit against the state's "public financing" for candidates. His goal is to block any assistance for his Republican opponent, Bill McCollum."On the oil session, Amendment 7 and the Scott lawsuit".
The way the law works, a candidate who agrees to limit his own spending can get matching funds from the state when another candidate goes over that limit.
Since Scott has spent a bazillion dollars so far, McCollum is in line for some state cash.
Interestingly, the Republican Legislature hates public financing and has gutted it over the years. There's even another amendment on this fall's ballot, proposed by the Legislature, to eliminate it altogether.
Yet the incoming leaders of the Legislature, Dean Cannon in the House and Mike Haridopolos in the Senate, are supporting McCollum over the outsider Scott.
What irony! Unless their own guy gets some of that "welfare for politicians" that they hate, they could end up with the Other Guy as governor. In a more literate era, I would say they were being hoist by their own petard, but that would involve explaining what a "petard" is, so never mind.
Some readers might find it amusing to think of a RPOFer like Cannon [sic] or Haridopolos anywhere near something like a petard, cannon, or any other military hardware for that matter. See generally: "Operation Yellow Elephant". Related: "Chicken hawk Hall of Shame".
"Conservative Florida Republicans have long opposed the state's public campaign financing program, calling it 'welfare for politicians,' in the words of its leading opponent, former Gov. Jeb Bush. But some of those same people are now helping their favored candidate for governor, Bill McCollum, collect as much public financing money as possible, to prevent his campaign from being overwhelmed by the spending of his mega-millionaire, self-funding opponent Rick Scott." "Campaign funding rules skirted in gubernatorial race".
No heart, no soul in Pasco
"It would be a pretty safe bet to say that Mike Fasano and Bill Bunting have crossed each other off their Christmas card lists. The Republican Party of Pasco seems to reflect nationwide trends of a split between more moderate forces and vehement conservatism."
The contrast is plainly seen, too, between a more middle-of-the-road approach by state Sen. Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and the often-feisty conservatism of Bunting, the GOP state committeeman for Pasco. They have been butting heads of late."Times: Battle for the heart, soul of Pasco GOP".
"Bill Bunting lives in his own little world," Fasano said through his chief legislative assistant, Greg Giordano. "This senate office has too much to do (serving constituents) to worry about what Bill Bunting says or does. We don't have much contact with Bill Bunting these days."
Legions of pajama-clad voters"
"Legions of pajama-clad voters could decide Florida's ballot long before the August primary."
Elections officials have begun sending out hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots creating an unprecedented army of absentee voters in an unpredictable election year rattled by vulnerable incumbents, a desolate economy and the sudden emergence of two wealthy, political upstarts."Emphasis on absentee ballots adds uncertainty".
With the ballots poised to arrive weeks before a slate of scheduled debates or other opportunities for voters to learn about the candidates, the emergence of the home as the polling place of choice for so many voters lends further uncertainty to a year already testing many of Florida's political traditions.
"White House isn't backing Crist, party chief says".
"Underpromising with hopes of overdelivering, BP said Sunday that it is making progress on what could prove its most effective effort yet to contain the Gulf oil leak, but cautioned that the verdict could be several days away. A new cap being placed atop the gusher is intended to provide a tight seal and might eventually allow the oil giant to capture all the crude leaking from the well for the first time since an April 20 oil rig explosion set off the environmental crisis. But several prior failed attempts to stop the leak have made BP PLC careful to keep expectations grounded." "BP happy with new oil-leak effort, but no promises".
See also "Crist to announce legal 'Dream Team' for oil spill response", "BP: Cap on gushing well removed, oil will flow freely into Gulf for two days", "BP: Latest containment effort may be 2-5 more days", "Navy blimp hovers over Gulf on oil spill duty", "New cap could contain spill this week, BP says", "Graham: Capping blown-out well doesn't fix spill" and "".
Graham hoses Lawson
"Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham praised Rep. Allen Boyd Saturday as a moderate "work horse" who can withstand partisan pressure from both extremes in Congress."
Introducing Graham at a noon rally, Boyd said they worked together on many state and federal issues important to North Florida farming, transportation and economic development. He said he will be with Graham, co-chairman of a presidential commission on the oil spill, during a listening tour of coastal communities today."Former US Sen Bob Graham endorses Boyd".
"He said to me one time, 'Allen, you can't govern from the end zone. You have to govern from the 50-yard line,' and I've always tried to mimic that," Boyd said. "I've watched him over his career and that is what he does."
Graham, who served two terms as governor and 18 years in the U.S. Senate, said Boyd's 14 years in the House have made him a key member for agriculture appropriations. While other members have staked out hard positions on the left or right, Graham said, Boyd votes pretty much in the political center.
"He is an important part of that frankly diminishing group of people who live around the 50-yard line," said Graham. "That's the kind of congressman who is in increasingly shorter and shorter supply. You've got one and you should keep him."
Boyd faces state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, in the Aug. 24 primary and five Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination to face the Democratic nominee in November.
Heaven help us
"Have months of Fox News hyperventilating and right-wing fear mongering over our supposed socialist-in-chief finally paid off? A majority of voters now think President Barack Obama is a socialist, at least according to one new poll." "Poll: 55% Of Likely Voters Think Obama's A Socialist".
Heaven help us, Part Deux
"On Its 50th Birthday, Why Is 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Being Attacked?".
The Party of "no"
"While Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's call for a special session on offshore drilling may have fired up partisan politics statewide, one UF expert expects that the session likely will not lead to a constitutional amendment banning oil drilling making it onto the November ballot." "Special session could lead to nothing".
GOP complaint against Crist dismissed
Missed this last week:
The Federal Elections Commission announced yesterday that it found no evidence of wrongdoing in six complaints, including ones against Charlie Crist's Senate campaign and President Obama's Victory Fund."FEC Clears Obama, Crist, Others After Complaints".
The complaint against Crist, filed late last year by Tampa Republican Club president Liz Wessel, alleges that he and a lobbyist friend violated FEC law when his friend, Rich Heffley, created an anti-Rubio web site without disclosing who he was.
The FEC ruled that "volunteer internet activities," even in collusion with the candidate, "do not require disclaimers and do not constitute contributions."
"He does not publicly disclose potential conflicts"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Ash Williams, the chief investment officer for Florida's pension fund, oversees $134 billion. Yet he does not publicly disclose potential conflicts of interest when he invests public money." "A conflict of state, personal interests". Related: "Ash says deals based on merits, not pals" and "Williams blurs line between state, personal business".
Mike Thomas: "Generous pensions for public workers gut budget". Our response: "Alleged Journalists at it again".
"Remarkably little visible campaigning so far"
"Central Florida voters will decide more than 100 races on the Aug. 24 primary ballot, with candidates fighting for everything from city commission seats to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate. But even though it's the busiest election season in memory, there's been remarkably little visible campaigning so far." "Election looming, but campaigns slow to start".
"Yacht owners didn't build the Intracoastal Waterway"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Critics say that if passenger rail were practical, private investors would happily build it and reap the profits. They're half right. If profits were to be had, many people would be trying to capitalize. But that's no justification to refuse to subsidize better mobility on corridors where road expansion is impossible or would cost much more than a rail line."
Even The Trib editors recognize the vacuity of the same old arguments of the Ayn Rand/Milton Freedman dead enders. After all, as the editors aptly put it,
Yacht owners didn't build the Intracoastal Waterway."Rail subsidy makes sense".