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 Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Stinging investigation of scandal-rocked Florida GOP"

    "The Republican Party of Florida released a report of its finances, showing the party of fiscal responsibility lacked the basics in financial restraint."
    When the families of Charlie Crist and Jim Greer spent four days vacationing together at Disney World last year, donors to the Florida Republican party picked up the $13,400 tab.

    When the son of former state GOP chairman Greer was baptized, Charlie and Carole Crist were on hand, toasting Aidan with champagne. Republican party donors paid $5,600 in photography expenses.

    And when the governor headed to a U.S. Senate campaign fundraiser in New York City last year, Florida GOP donors paid for Greer's wife, Lisa, and Florida's first lady to head up to Manhattan a few days early, charging nearly $1,600 on the party's credit card.

    It's all part of a stinging internal investigation into the scandal-rocked Florida GOP under the chairmanship of the now-indicted Greer.
    "While much of the report released Friday focuses on Crist and Greer -- enemies of the current party leadership -- it" nevertheless
    portrays the party of fiscal responsibility as having lacked basic financial controls and accountability.
    Ain't it ironic how the "audit"
    absolves free-spending Republican politicians who only reimbursed the party for personal expenses after the media started asking questions.
    "The report either barely mentions or ignores altogether currently elected Republicans who have had their own problems with how they spent party money."
    Rubio, who has not released all his party credit card statements, routinely charged personal expenses on his party cards, from groceries to family reunions, and had to reimburse the party more than $2,400 for double-billing the party for plane flights. Speaker-to-be Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, joined Crist, Greer, and others on a Las Vegas trip that the auditors said had little to do with party business. Atwater and Cannon had to reimburse the party for hundreds of dollars in personal charges after the media obtained their credit card statements.

    The investigation only covered party expenses during Greer's tenure as party chairman starting in 2007, and critics say that's because party leaders don't want to reveal how liberally legislative leaders were using their party credit cards long before Greer took over.
    "GOP audit: Thousands misspent". See also "Fla. GOP audit shows, Crist denies, party paid for his Disney, other trips", "Audit Nails Charlie Crist, Jim Greer For 'Inappropriate' Spending", "Marco Rubio Comments on Audit, Debate, Campaigning in South Florida" and "GOP investigation puts party misspending on Charlie Crist, Jim Greer".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors write that
    the party's use of the embarrassing report to launch new attacks on Gov. Charlie Crist and his independent bid for U.S. Senate — while down playing other irregularities — suggests a motive other than full accountability from a party that preaches fiscal prudence. An ongoing federal investigation is likely the public's only hope of ever learning the full picture of who benefitted from this corruption of Florida politics.
    "GOP plays politics with audit".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board points out that the RPOF's "review appears designed to keep the focus on Crist"
    It is notable the party's announcement of the audit does not mention Sansom, who has been indicted for directing state funds to a project sought by a friend. The reason for the omission is obvious.

    Sansom was Rubio's budget chief and his chosen successor - facts inconvenient to state GOP Chair John Thrasher's effort to make this Crist's scandal

    Yet Rubio paid the credit card company thousands of dollars for personal expenses, which included wine and minivan repairs.

    The audit does not address why Rubio and other officials felt the need to use the party card for personal expenses when they could have used their own cards.

    It is also notable the audit was conducted only from 2007 to 2009, when Crist was in office. Rubio and others had cards before that period. The review appears designed to keep the focus on Crist. ...

    If the party wants to provide a credible clean sweep, it needs to broaden its scrutiny and eliminate the political spin.
    "Audit raises flags for Crist and GOP".

    "Dems are idiots and can't spell 'scandalous self-implosion'"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Here are some words that could put fear in the hearts of some Florida Republican big-wigs: Indicted former state party chairman Jim Greer is writing a tell-all book."

    So says Greer's Lake Mary lawyer, Damon Chase, who is intimating the tome will shed a different light on GOP leaders involved in the "conspiracy" to publicly scapegoat Greer and Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican Party of Florida's high-spending ways in recent years.

    Chase said he couldn't provide any more details until the criminal charges against Greer are "dropped."

    But the still-burning ramparts of Florida Republicans' 2010 Civil War were on full display Friday, with the release of the long-awaited forensic audit of state GOP spending under Greer.
    "Chase, whose client has wasted no opportunity to blame Rubio and his followers for the scandals at RPOF, suggested utilizing Greer as opposition research would damage only those legitimately caught up in it – such as Rubio, whose credit-card spending totaled $93,959.46, including $2,417.80 in three-year-old plane tickets that he reimbursed the party for last spring – but that neither Crist nor Democrat Kendrick Meek were likely to use it effectively."
    "Democrats are idiots and can't spell 'scandalous self-implosion,'" Chase said. "Rick Scott used the scandal well against McCollum because McCollum was involved in it."

    But Democrats desperate to help Meek chip away at Crist's Democratic support pounced on the audit's misleading press release as quickly as Republicans.

    "Greer And Crist Spent Thousands Of Dollars Jet-Setting Around Country For Personal Reasons On Republican Party Of Florida's Expense," is the headline on a release sent out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

    "Too bad for Meek that Greer's book won't be released by November," Chase said.
    "Will GOP audit scandal stick to Crist?".

    Webster a neocon

    TPM: "Florida Republican congressional hopeful Daniel Webster has a 2003-era view of American wars. A source sends over video footage of a Webster campaign event where he advocates that U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan indefinitely at the military's discretion, and use it to create a series of democracies in the Muslim world."

    "Our national interest is this: We need a beachhead in the Middle East, that is a democratic beachhead, not a party but a form of government," Webster told voters. "And to me, if we have a democracy in several countries there, it become a beachhead. It also protects us because once that beachhead is established it can move further and further and hopefully free up the people of the middle east."

    Webster was asked specifically how long he believed U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan. He says that's none of voters' business.
    "Grayson Opponent Supports Indefinite Occupation In Afghanistan (VIDEO)".

    Yet Webster wouldn't put his boots on the ground

    "Alan Grayson TV ad calls Dan Webster a draft dodger".

    Senate debate

    "No clear winner emerged from the first televised standoff among the major U.S. Senate candidates, leaving Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio on steady ground after Friday's debate hosted by Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network." "No clear winner in Senate debate".

    "The three major Senate candidates took opposing views on most subjects during their first debate on the Univision network. Republican Rubio and Democrat Meek were on the same side, though, on their views on Gov. Crist, the only independent in the race. Both portrayed him as a political opportunist."

    "Everybody sees what you're doing; everybody gets it," Rubio said. "You only changed parties and did this independent thing when you couldn't win the Republican primary. And now you wake up every day and you try to figure out what you can say or do to take votes away from Congressman Meek so more Democrats will vote for you."

    Meek also attacked Crist as the candidate who is "trying to pick the raisins out of the bread" by saying what people want to hear.

    "Mr. Crist is someone that is willing to say 'Hey, I'm for everything on any day.' But we need leadership, someone to speak out," Meek said.

    Crist countered that his opponents are bound by party ideology and allegiances and unable to do what's right for voters.
    "Rubio, Crist and Meek debate on Spanish TV". See also "Political rivals split on immigration issues" and "Rubio breaks with Meek, Crist on immigration, English-as-official-language in debate".

    "Score one for the stagehands"

    "Score one for the stagehands. Two days after a union protest prompted U.S. Senate candidates Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek to cancel their appearances at the Kravis Center, the group that sponsored the political matchup has decided it doesn't want a repeat performance of this week's chaos. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott will addresses the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches on Oct. 15 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, not at the Kravis. " "To avoid union picket line, Forum Club won't use Kravis for Sink, Scott".

    Wingnuts run wild

    "Rick Scott brought his campaign for governor to a North Florida stronghold Friday accompanied by a folk hero to many conservative Republicans: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal."

    The fiery [sic*], fast-talking Jindal, an emerging national Republican figure and possible candidate for president in 2012, eagerly picked up on the Scott campaign's themes of creating jobs and linking Democratic opponent Alex Sink to President Obama and his policies.

    ``You've got an important choice this election,'' Jindal told the crowd. ``On the other side you've got a candidate who believes President Obama's stimulus policies are good for this economy.'' As the crowd booed its disapproval, Jindal thundered: ``They believe we need to raise your taxes.''

    Sink, the state's chief financial officer, has not advocated raising taxes, but Jindal said: ``Rick Scott doesn't believe in any of that.''

    Scott and Jindal also held events in Pensacola and Orlando, but the Jacksonville rally was by far the biggest of the day, the campaign said.

    ``Bob-BY! Bob-BY!'' an enthusiastic crowd of more than 300 people chanted as Jindal charged a small stage inside an airplane hangar decorated with a huge American flag.
    "Gov. Jindal campaigns for Scott". See also "Bobby Jindal adds Louisiana hot sauce to Rick Scott's GOP campaign swing" and "".

    - - - - - - - - -
    *Calling Jindal "fiery" is hilarious. His speaking ability has been more accurately described as "amateurish," "laughable" and "Awkward with capital A".

    Wingnut laff riot

    "Conservative activists across the cyber world are rallying behind a Palm Beach State College student whose Young Americans for Freedom organization was booted out of a campus club event last week."

    The group's Florida chapter posted a video on its website showing a police officer asking PBSC student Christina Beattie to remove her table at a campus rush event, where student clubs recruit new members.

    Beattie and the organization's Florida president, Daniel Diaz, were displaying literature critical of President Obama's healthcare legislation, stimulus program and the nation's "unsustainable welfare state."

    While the group said its first amendment rights were violated by a pro-Obama college administration, the school said the group simply didn't follow rules.

    "They never registered as a campus club, and that's all they need to do to be fully recognized," said PBSC spokeswoman Grace Truman. "You can't just come in, set up a table and say you're forming a club. Student clubs get student activity money that are paid for by student activities fee. The college needs to be very clear who the clubs are."
    "Palm Beach State College faces conservatives' ire after banning group from club rush event".

    Slight uptick in unemployment

    "Florida's unemployment rate climbed slightly to 11.7 percent in August, with more than 1 million Floridians still out of work, according to figures released Friday by the state Agency for Workforce Innovation." "August jobless rate up slightly". See also "Unemployment Continues to Rise in Florida".

    "Keeping the Faith"

    "Muslim Candidate For Florida House Is Keeping the Faith".

    Sink discloses tax returns, Scott dithers

    "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink released five years of tax returns and called on rival Rick Scott to release his, too." "Sink releases her tax returns".

    "She filed separately from her husband, attorney Bill McBride, so his returns are listed separately."

    Sink's Republican opponent, Rick Scott, has yet to make public his returns, and reports earlier this week indicated it may be a while until he does. The multimillionaire former health care executive reportedly is still gathering forms.
    "Florida gubernatorial candidate Sink posts tax returns". See also "Sink and husband's tax returns show high income bracket, poker penchant" and "Alex Sink releases 5 years of tax returns".

    "Revolving door emblazoned with a dollar sign"

    Steve Bousquet: "Nowhere is the effect of term limits more obvious than in the state House of Representatives, which has devolved into a political revolving door emblazoned with a huge dollar sign."

    They come and go — Republicans, mostly — and many of them barely leave a set of footprints. They generally hew closely to a rigid party-line agenda, or following "leadership," as it's known in Tallahassee. A lot of them become senators, prolonging their legislative careers for another eight or 10 years.

    In the House, inexperienced rookie legislators are running for speaker before they know where the bathrooms are in the state Capitol. The obsession with raising money is worse than ever, and House members serve two-year terms, so it seems they are perpetually running for office.

    Against this backdrop, House Republicans hope to pad their huge majority this fall. They now hold 76 seats to the Democrats' 44. The GOP wants 80 or more seats, partly to have tighter control over the machinery of lawmaking, and partly as veto-override insurance in the event Democrat Alex Sink is elected governor (it requires a two-thirds vote to override a veto by the governor).
    "GOP moving to get House in order".

    Amendment 4 chaos?

    "Will Florida Hometown Democracy create costly chaos or end bad development?" "Does Amendment 4 Go Too Far?".

    Who will bend over for business ...

    ... that is the question Mary Ellen Klas asks today: "In an election year tilting Republican, with the two major candidates for governor who have spent more time in the boardroom than in politics, it should be a dream-come-true year for Florida's business interests."

    But for many in the business community, the choice is not an easy one.

    Republican Rick Scott was founder and former CEO of the for-profit hospital chain Columbia/HCA but is still largely unknown among business circles. Democrat Alex Sink, who spent 26 years with NationsBank and then Bank of America, was elected Florida's chief financial officer on the strength of business support, but now faces doubts from those same groups.
    Why the doubts? Sink has had the audacity to have
    accepted contributions from the two groups that make business leaders wary — lawyers and unions.

    "Alex Sink is a very likable person and we very much supported her as CFO — she did an excellent job," said [Rick McAllister, president of the Florida Retail Federation]. "The quandary we have is when you have the responsibility for vetoing or signing legislation that deals with unions and trial lawyers — that concerns us."
    "Who is better for business?".


    "Putnam correct on future water needs for state".

    Gelber leads money race

    "Democratic nominee Dan Gelber continues to hold a substantial fundraising edge on Republican Pam Bondi in the race to become Florida's next attorney general, and he's hoping to take in more dollars in her home base in Tampa." "Gelber leads Bondi in AG fundraising race".

    Never mind

    "Candidate married to porn star withdraws from race".

    Got milk?

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida's new 'Milk Party' is crusading on behalf of a constituency with no self-declared political enemies: the children." "'Milk Party' could make a difference".

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