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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 01, 2010

The RPOF tapes

    "The noose had been tightening around Jim Greer for weeks by the time old protege and right-hand man Delmar Johnson finally returned his calls."
    Law enforcement was snooping around. Rumors were rampant about imminent arrests. Blogs and newspapers featured fellow Republicans — former friends and fellow party leaders, for God's sake — trashing Greer and accusing him of illegal activity.

    Some of his most adamant defenders had stopped taking calls, and people whispered that even Johnson was throwing Greer under the bus to investigators. So when Johnson finally phoned on March 25, the former Florida Republican Party chairman sounded wary and relieved.
    As Johnson secretly tape recorded his friend, the following conversation occurred:
    "Why do you think people are treating us this way,'' Greer asked.

    "They're, you know, I guess looking out for themselves,'' Johnson said.

    "Well, that's why you need to get down here and stay for a night.''

    "Yeah, yeah,'' Johnson responded. " . . . I'll get down there. Thanks, Jim. Kiss my godson for me.''
    "As accusations grew, taped calls show a wary Greer". More:
    "You never have to worry about me," Johnson says. "People are saying, 'You shouldn't be talking to Greer.' . . . Forget that. The only person I can truly talk to and trust is you and [your wife] Lisa."

    "I'm glad to hear that," Greer replies, "because people were trying to convince me last week that you had turned on me."

    "That's ridiculous," Johnson said, stammering.
    "Fired Florida GOP office manager: Jim Greer's expense receipts were altered". Background: "Prosecution documents reveal more in fraud case against former GOP chairman Jim Greer".

    TPM has more: "Documents Detail Scandal Within Florida Republican Party".

    "A questionable strategy"

    "Creating more tax breaks for businesses in the hopes that they will create jobs is a questionable strategy, despite claims from political candidates." "Tax Breaks to Create Jobs Are Questionable and Compete for Limited State Revenue".

    The RPOF's "four horsemen"

    "Bill McCollum and, perhaps, the three other GOP officials who helped oust Jim Greer have yet to be interviewed in the case against Greer."

    Jim Greer and Delmar Johnson called them "the four horsemen.''

    The sobriquet referred to a band of powerful Republican politicians who earlier this year played an integral role in the ouster of Greer and Johnson from the helm of the Republican Party of Florida: Attorney General Bill McCollum, future House leader Dean Cannon, future Senate leader Mike Haridopolos and current party Chairman John Thrasher.

    The names appear numerous times in a criminal investigation that led to the June indictment of Greer but the four GOP officials were never questioned, according to evidence released this week.

    The omission prompted renewed questions Wednesday about the limited scope of the investigation and the role of McCollum, the state's top legal officer who is running for governor.
    "Jim Greer case investigators yet to interview 'four horsemen'". See also "Audio recording in Greer case fleshes out felony accusations".

    Where was Bill?

    "Florida Democrats joined with Republican Rick Scott in demanding Wednesday that gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum appoint an independent prosecutor to continue the criminal case against the state’s former GOP chairman, saying the current probe has forced the attorney general into a legal conflict." "Bill McCollum Role in Greer Probe Questioned".

    Altered RPOFer receipts

    "The office manager who reviewed credit card bills at the Florida GOP grew suspicious of Jim Greer and Delmar Johnson III, the two men who ran the party, and what they were buying."

    They kept turning in receipts that had been changed or defaced, so she couldn't tell what they'd bought, Susan Wright told state investigators.

    Wright was also taken aback at how often Greer wanted to fly on a private plane, she told investigators. He'd often tell staffers to book one, even if the trip was from Orlando to Tampa.

    And not long after Wright took her concerns to party leaders, she was fired.

    A summary of Wright's interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is among a pile of evidence released this week by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.
    Peter Antonacci, a lawyer with GrayRobinson, P.A., on Wednesday said his firm had done nothing improper in the Greer case. GrayRobinson was the firm Greer hired last year to set up Victory Strategies. According to prosecution records, Greer "implied" that he wanted his involvement kept secret so the firm used its address the name of one of its clerical employees as Victory's principal contact.

    Antonacci said Greer didn't spell out his motives and that the firm's work on his behalf was "routine, legal and appropriate."
    "Fired Florida GOP office manager: Jim Greer's expense receipts were altered".


    "FFWC says it has been green lighted to implement a plan with a goal of reaching oil covered birds within an hour after they have been reported." "Plan created to recover oiled birds".

    See also "BP spill nears a somber record as Gulf's biggest", "Don't weep for the oil industry", "Insurers Brace for an Oily Storm" and "Crist asks BP for $50 million more for Fla. ads".

    "Another rule that protects politicians"

    "Voters in a Little Havana-based district will have two choices for state senator in November ballot: the winner of the Republican primary and a blank line for a write-in candidate's name."

    It's the same case in a Tampa Bay Senate district and in 10 House races across Florida. In both Senate races, only about two-fifths of all eligible voters will choose the person to represent the entire district in the Legislature.

    "This is yet another rule that protects politicians from the people,'' said Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, a staunch critic of the so-called write-in loophole. "It's like an East German election. You've got one name and then you've got a line.''

    Florida's Constitution says that if all the candidates for an office are in the same party and face no opposition in the general election, then all registered voters will be allowed to vote in the primary. After that provision was adopted in 1998, both political parties found an easy way around it -- recruiting write-in candidates to run as general election opponents.

    The practice is accepted by the Division of Elections, which in 2000 issued an opinion saying the constitutionally required opposition doesn't have to be "viable or have a realistic chance of success.'' In 2007, a judge in Lake County upheld the loophole.
    "Loophole keeps party primaries closed".

    Utilities complete their PSC "purge"

    "The refusal to consider reappointing two PSC commissioners completes the purge of those who opposed the rate case and angered utilities."

    Two of the three remaining utility regulators who rejected the largest electricity-rate increases ever sought in Florida were given their walking papers Wednesday when a nominating council refused to interview them for reappointment to their jobs.

    The Public Service Nominating Council voted to interview 18 candidates for the two positions on the state utility board -- but refused to interview PSC chairwoman Nancy Argenziano or Commissioner Nathan Skop, Gov. Charlie Crist's two appointees.
    "FPL rate-hike foes on Public Service Commission ousted by panel". See also "PSC process favors utilities".

    A related story from the The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "FPL comes a little cleaner".

    Teabagger implosion

    Bill Cotterell: "'Tea Party' or 'tea party,' it matters to the GOP" (subscribers only). If you want to read Cotterell's column, you will have to register and pay for an online subscription to the Tallahassee Democrat. The Democrat is the first major Florida newspaper to adopt this new business model.


    "While U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz represents what appears to be a safe Democratic district, three Republican candidates have emerged to take on the incumbent." "Three-Way GOP Battle to Take On Debbie Wasserman Schultz".

    Democratic candidate Brian Moore

    "Republican Rick Scott isn't the only health care executive in the gubernatorial race anymore. Democratic candidate Brian Moore, with more than 20 years in the HMO managed care industry, is in the race, too -- promising to offer Democratic voters a choice and taking swings at state CFO Alex Sink." "Running to the Left, Brian Moore Takes on Alex Sink for Dem Gubernatorial Nomination".

    LGBT voters

    "Trailing behind independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican former House Speaker Marco Rubio in the polls and now facing a bitter contest with billionaire financier Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep." "Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene Battle for Gay Floridians' Votes".

    Budget Primer

    "The state budget affects Florida's 18 million people every day, even though most don't often think about it. By understanding the budget and tax policy that provides the revenue for the budget, Floridians can participate in the allocation of resources to their top priorities and make a difference in the kind of state we're building and what it will be in the future. The Primer makes complicated fiscal information understandable to the average citizen. We hope it will help citizens become more engaged in the policy making process." "Primer on Florida's State Budget and Tax System Now Available".

    Amendment 9

    "A lawsuit has been filed to knock off the "health care freedom" amendment aimed at blocking health care reform." "Amendment 9 draws legal challenge".


    "State Rep. David Rivera's close relationship with a businessman who facilitates trade with Cuba is becoming increasingly awkward for the congressional candidate, one of Florida's most outspoken proponents of the embargo on the island. Rivera, chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party and House budget chief, is publicly distancing himself from Ariel Pereda, the former chairman of a political fundraising committee Rivera was associated with and principal of the Havana Group, a firm that advises companies on how to trade with Cuba." "Candidate's friendship with Cuba trade backer at issue".

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