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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 Thursday, July 29, 2010

RPOF sued for disgorgement of Rothstein cash

    "The Republican Party of Florida was sued Wednesday for $237,000 it received from Scott Rothstein's defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm. Rothstein donated to the party from accounts of his law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, on more than 10 occasions, states the lawsuit filed in federal bankruptcy court. The political donations were not a legitimate law firm expense and the firm received nothing in return for them, according to the suit. The lawsuit was filed by Berger Singerman, the law firm working on behalf of the trustee in the bankruptcy case for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler."
    The lawsuit is one more hit for the embattled Republican Party of Florida, whose chairman, Jim Greer, quit amid a credit card spending scandal earlier this year. If convicted, Greer faces up to 75 years in prison for theft, fraud and money-laundering charges stemming from accusations that he created a company called Victory Strategies to funnel party donations to himself. Greer has pleaded not guilty.

    Rothstein and his firm gave generously to politicians and candidates on both sides of the aisle as a way for him to boost the legitimacy and image of himself and his law firm. Rothstein regularly hosted lavish political fundraisers. Photos showing him with politicians -- including one in which he embraced Gov. Charlie Crist -- were auctioned off by the bankruptcy estate earlier this year.

    In April, Berger Singerman sent demand letters to dozens of political groups, politicians and candidates seeking repayment of about $650,000. The Republican Part of Florida is the first to be sued, but may not be the last.
    "Florida GOP sued for donations from Scott Rothstein's law firm".

    Money talks

    "Two wealthy newcomers to Florida politics who are self-financing their campaigns have taken double-digit leads in the state's Republican gubernatorial and Democratic Senate primary races, according to a poll released Thursday."

    Former hospital operator Rick Scott was favored by 43 percent to 32 percent who preferred Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican gubernatorial race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 760 likely GOP voters taken July 22-27. Scott maintained a double-digit advantage he had compiled in an early June survey.

    Meanwhile, billionaire businessman Jeff Greene shot ahead of U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the Democratic Senate race. Greene was favored by 33 percent of 782 likely Democratic voters to Meek's 23 percent and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre's 4 percent. In a June poll by Quinnipiac, Meek held a 2-point edge.

    The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points among Republicans and 3.5 percentage points among Democrats.
    "Poll: Wealthy newcomers lead in Fla. primary races". See also "Quinnipiac shows Scott ahead of McCollum, Greene leading Meek".

    Here's the Quinnipiac release and poll result detail: "July 29, 2010 - 'Outsiders' Lead In Florida Primaries, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Scott Up In GOP Gov Race, Greene Leads In Dem Senate Bid".

    Scott calls McLaughlin poll "trash"

    "The rock-'em, sock-'em campaign by Rick Scott and Bill McCollum is driving up the negatives of both GOP gubernatorial candidates, a new poll reports."

    As if that weren't bad enough, the poll itself has been called into question for its financial ties to the McCollum campaign.

    The July 25-26 telephone survey of likely Republican voters found that Scott's negative numbers climbed to 37 percent while McCollum's negative rating moved up to 43 percent.

    The poll by McLaughlin & Associates also indicated that the race may be tightening, with Scott leading McCollum 37 percent to 33 percent.

    “The results of this poll show a dead heat, with the candidates statistically tied within the margin of error," said Timothy Stapleton, executive vice president of the Florida Medical Association, which commissioned the poll.

    The FMA, which endorsed McCollum earlier this month, noted that 30 percent of respondents are still undecided in the contest, even though Scott and McCollum have spent millions on TV advertising in the past 90 days.

    "Most disturbing to Rick Scott has to be the fact that as the story of his real record gets out, his negatives continue to rise," the McLaughlin analysis states. "Among undecided voters, Rick Scott has a net negative rating of only 16 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable." ...

    Scott campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Baker declined to comment, except to call the McLaughlin survey "trash ... coming straight from McCollum."

    Indeed, McLaughlin received $1.39 million from the Florida First Initiative between July 15 and July 28. Florida First is a 527 campaign fund linked to McCollum.
    "'Trash' Poll Finds Scott, McCollum Negatives Soaring to Toxic Levels".

    Scott goes into hiding

    "Scott has agreed to two limited TV debates with McCollum, but balked at going on live TV statewide for one hour -- free of charge -- to debate his Republican opponent unless the location was moved away from McCollum's Orlando base to one of Scott's choosing. McCollum agreed to the move on Wednesday, but Scott insists on a public venue that organizers say they can't provide. The flap over the only statewide TV debate comes as Scott also is passing up invitations from newspaper editorial boards for interviews." "Scott, McCollum clash over statewide debate". See also "Scott Holds the Remote -- Won't OK TV Move".

    Meek hits the road

    "From the place where he started his petition campaign in Orlando to the Wausau Possum Festival, from Pensacola's beaches to an early voting date in his hometown of Miami, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek plans an 11-day statewide bus tour in his U.S." "Meek to begin campaign tour in Orlando".

    Country clubbers tap McCollum

    "The Florida Chamber of Commerce endorsed Attorney General Bill McCollum in his bid for governor. Another business group endorsed both McCollum and his GOP primary rival Rick Scott."

    With the two leading Republican candidates for governor peddling their economic plans, Attorney General Bill McCollum on Wednesday received an endorsement in his bid from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. ...

    Also Wednesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce donated $500,000 to the Florida First Initiative, a political committee affiliated with McCollum that has been attacking his rival, Rick Scott, in television ads, the News Service of Florida reported. ...

    McCollum has pledged to lower corporate taxes, reduce regulations and revise state laws governing civil suits. ...

    Another business group, Associated Industries of Florida, announced Wednesday that it would co-endorse McCollum and Scott.
    "Florida Chamber endorses McCollum". See also "AIF Makes Double-Barrel Endorsement: Scott, McCollum" and "".

    And so it begins ...

    ... the The Orlando Sentinel has overtly begun its campaign against Grayson, attacking his 21st Century use of the franking privilege to send a DVD to constituents, as opposed to the usual newsletter. Even though "Grayson isn't the first lawmaker to use taxpayer money to send a DVD", the Sentinel "journalists, right outa the RPOF talking points, derisively call it a "stunt".

    According to the Sentinel, "the 90-minute disc features video highlights from his first term in office, including one of him grilling Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and another in which the Orlando Democrat preaches on the need to teach schoolchildren about the U.S. Constitution."

    It's a stunt that drew howls from Republicans, who complained that Grayson was abusing the congressional privilege of franking that allows lawmakers to send taxpayer-paid newsletters and other mail to residents.

    "This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars, and it goes to show that Alan Grayson is completely out of touch with Central Florida," said state Rep. Kurt Kelly of Ocala, one of seven Republicans looking to unseat Grayson this fall.

    "This is just ridiculous behavior. What congressman would do this in the face of a huge budget deficit?" he asked.

    Grayson said he doesn't see the video as self-promotional and that its intent was to show residents how the sausage is made in Washington.
    "Grayson bills taxpayers for DVD of term's highlights".

    Rubio losing money race

    "Rubio collected $4.3 million from April 1 to June 30, a record for a U.S. Senate candidate in Florida. But he spent $4 million during the same period."

    Rubio needs a better return on his fund-raising investment -- $1.7 million last quarter in direct mail, phone calls and online outreach — or he'll risk being outspent by Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the GOP to run with no party affiliation.

    Since Rubio started raising money in February 2009, he's spent 63 percent of every dollar he's collected.

    If he continues on that pace, he would need to raise $6.2 million in the third quarter of the year just to match the $8.2 million Crist had in the bank as of June 30.

    Much of the Rubio's spending last quarter was directed at pushing Crist out of the Republican primary, a Palm Beach Post analysis of Rubio's expenditures show.
    "Rubio a big spender as well as big fund-raiser in U.S. Senate race".

    DWS goes after Teabaggers

    "South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will help lead a nationwide Democratic campaign this fall that will try to tie Republican candidates to extreme elements of the Tea Party movement." "Florida's Wasserman Schultz leads Democrats' campaign to tie GOP to Tea Party".

    Never mind

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board happily overlooks that Republican Dorothy Hukill "backed offshore drilling, sponsored the bill shielding gerrymandered districts and weakened growth-management laws." "For Florida House District 28".


    "A University of Central Florida economist says that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has delayed the Sunshine State's recovery from the Great Recession by at least a year." "Economist: Spill will stall recovery by a year".

    See also "Oil spill roundup: Wed., July 28", "Feinberg to oil spill task force: BP has done some things well, but 'data isn’t one of them'", "The 10 lessons in the 100 days of the Gulf oil spill", "Local governments: We want more say in oil cleanup" and "Crews take step toward readying permanent well fix".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "In what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder described as 'the largest federal Medicare fraud take-down in history,' hundreds of federal agents swept five cities, including Miami, earlier this month to arrest 94 people accused of stealing $251 million from taxpayers by submitting bogus Medicare reimbursement claims." "Keep up the fight on bogus claims".

    RPOFers prepare law like Arizona's

    "South Florida immigrants viewed with relief a federal judge's decision Wednesday to block provisions of an Arizona law that would step up enforcement against people suspected of being in the country illegally. Others saw the injunction as a Band-Aid that could slip off as the legal battle between the federal government and state procedes, and while Florida legislators prepare laws similar to Arizona's. " "Arizona immigration ruling provides relief to some in South Florida, but hope to opponents". Related: "Democrat Sink’s careful reactions to Arizona law, federal suit and today’s injunction".

    Meanwhile, the RPOFers scramble for the gutter: "Republican guv hopefuls Scott, McCollum criticize injunction blocking Arizona immigration law".


    "Allen West is the darling of the tea party movement in South Florida. He's raised truckloads of campaign cash for his campaign. His name is constantly invoked at Republican gatherings." "Despite odds, challengers don't shy from taking on Ron Klein and Allen West".

    Off topic

    "Civil Rights Panel To Pursue Scourge Of Anti-White Racism".

    Jebbie holds a press conference

    "Now that Jeb Bush has taken himself out of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, the former Florida governor is delving more deeply into humanitarian endeavors." Jebbie

    is honorary chair of the Volunteer USA Foundation, which is developing a National Disaster Recovery Fund.

    The fund, according to Volunteer USA President Liza McFadden, "will provide long-term support to fill gaps where insurance and FEMA funding don't exist."

    The states of Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi have joined as partners in the fund, which "will allow faith and community-based non-profits that have track records of sustainable efforts helping communities rebuild to compete for funds," McFadden said. ...

    Bush is working alongside Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon, who serves as chairman of the fund.
    "Jeb Bush Leads Disaster Recovery Program".

    Thrasher opens mouth, inserts foot

    Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher "took aim at Democrats Meek and Grayson on Wednesday for missing the vote [to continue the funding of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan], ignoring Republican Young, who missed the vote because he is recovering from back surgery." "RPOF Chairman Thrasher Takes Aim at Meek, Grayson for Missing Military Funding Vote".

    "Difficult to implement and of uncertain benefit"

    The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy:

    Florida policymakers are embarking on another in a long series of K-12 education reform efforts likely to be difficult to implement and of uncertain benefit.

    The next steps planned in Florida's accountability-based education strategy will result in new standards, new tests, and renewed attempts to base teacher pay on student test scores.

    Questions exist not only about the strategy itself, but also about whether schools are funded well enough to make the kind of performance gains being sought.
    "Florida's Latest Strategy for Improving Schools Promises More of the Same — and Uncertain Results".

    Buzz continues about Haridopolos taking on Nelson in 2012

    http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/">Sunshine State News reports: "Having written a letter on national issues to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson earlier in the month, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, announced Wednesday that he will conduct a tour of hospitals and health-care facilities across the state, addressing health-related issues, including Medicaid. ... Just as he had in his letter to Nelson, Haridopolos continued to address federal issues -- taking aim at new health-care laws backed by President Barack Obama. ... Haridopolos also looked to brandish his conservative credentials by praising free-market solutions for health care." "Mike Haridopolos Puts Health Care on Center Stage".

    Running mate race

    "In the next few weeks, the candidates for governor face a decision fraught with danger: choosing a running mate for the obscure position of lieutenant governor. ... McCollum and Tom Grady? Scott and Paula Dockery? Sink and Rod Smith?" "Florida gubernatorial candidates looking at running mates".

    Greer talks

    "'I just hope that you-know-who drops dead'". "Jailhouse recordings show a different side of ex-Republican party of Florida chairman".

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