"The League of Women Voters and PBS have called off televised debates in Florida's U.S. Senate and governor's races. ... They couldn't, though, get commitments from either Republican, Senate candidate Marco Rubio and gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, nor from Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the GOP to run for the Senate as an independent. The two Democrats, Senate candidate Kendrick Meek and gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, accepted, but the League and public TV system don't allow empty chair debates." "Fla. Senate, governor debates canceled".
Rubio's pattern of treating donor money as his own
"This spring Marco Rubio's momentum in the U.S. Senate race was threatened by a series of revelations about him repeatedly using GOP campaign donations to pay for personal expenses — everything from personal care products to a family reunion to groceries."
But if Rubio worried the revelations would damage his surging campaign or image as a fiscal watchdog, he sure didn't show it. On March 31, the Miami Republican's campaign wrote a check a $1,500 to St. John Neumann Catholic Preparatory School. It was listed as a "registration fee" on Rubio's federal campaign reports."Questions about use of campaign money still dog Marco Rubio in Senate race".
When a Miami-based Democratic blogger, Joy Reid, flagged the unusual expense on her Reid Report blog, the Rubio campaign scoffed.
"It's BS. His kids don't even go there," the campaign responded to a St. Petersburg Times inquiry. "It was to sponsor some event they were doing and as it turns out they couldn't take money from a campaign so the check was never cashed and then voided."
Turns out, though, that there was a Rubio family connection: The money went to a school fishing tournament fundraiser organized by Rubio's sister-in-law.
"Rubio declined to answer any questions during a campaign stop in Tampa on Wednesday with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal."
Leading in the polls, he cautioned about 100 supporters to take nothing for granted and to prepare for negative attacks from Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek and independent candidate Charlie Crist."Rubio campaign writes $1,500-check to sister-in-law's charity".
The campaign made no apologies for trying to spend donors' money on his sister-in-law's private school fundraising event, but it's hardly the first time he's faced questions about how he spends political contributions.
The former state House speaker used a state GOP credit card for personal expenses. He says he always paid American Express directly for non-political purchases, but had to repay the party more than $2,000 for double-billed plane tickets after the Times/Herald obtained some of those records. Rubio will not release two years of those records.
Likewise, Rubio's political committees spent tens of thousands of dollars on credit card payments and other vague expenses. Even with little or no opposition as a state House member, his reelection campaigns spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $1,500 for a car payment. The campaign says all expenses were campaign-related.
"There's a pattern of Rubio treating donor money as his own and as a way to help out family and friends or to benefit personally,'' said Reid, the blogger who also writes a regular column for The Miami Herald.
Bought and paid for
"Agribusiness money powers Putnam's Ag Commissioner campaign".
Webster afraid of Grayson
"Alan Grayson debates, but without main challenger Dan Webster"
"Somebody pass me a flag to wave"
Joy-Ann Reid "tried a Twitter thought experiment, asking Florida Republicans to tweet back if they were proud -- not supportive, or intending to vote for, but proud -- of Rick Scott as their gubernatorial nominee."
The tweet got passed around (retweeted, for the uninitiated) for more than an hour, during which I got lots of feedback from folks who were getting direct messages from Republican friends and even GOP donors and consultants, who said they had to stand with Scott, but weren't thrilled about it. In the end, only one person took me up on the offer: a blogger who has received advertising buys from the Scott campaign."We get the politicians we deserve".
More scientific is a new Quinnipiac poll showing Scott in a statistical tie, 45 percent to 44 percent, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink. The poll finds that "likely voters'' believe Sink to be the more ethical businessperson by a whopping 44 to 28 percent, while among independents, the spread is 50 to 24. Scott is viewed negatively by 39 to 46 percent, while 89 percent say a candidate's business experience is important.
What does it say about us that a sizable minority is prepared to vote for people we don't like, aren't proud of, and who we don't think are ethical?
Somebody pass me a flag to wave.
The Saint Petersburg Times's "Midterm election voters' guide".
NcCollum finally gets off his duff
"Florida's attorney general joined 49 states and DC to launch a national probe into bank foreclosures." "States launch an inquiry into home foreclosure crisis".
Adams wants to repeal 17th amendment?
"The forum later turned to a Kosmas website that says Adams wants to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which established direct election of U.S. senators. Kosmas called the idea strange, but Adams said her opinion had more to do with letting states decide how to choose their senators." "Kosmas, Adams clash in rowdy congressional campaign debate".
Teabaggers attack Free Choice Act
"U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, voted for organized labor's top priority in 2007 - a 'card check'* bill that would allow unions to bypass secret-ballot elections if a majority of employees sign cards requesting a union. After that bill failed in the Senate, identical legislation was reintroduced in 2009. After some publicized hesitation, Klein signed on as one of 231 cosponsors." "Congressional candidate West challenges incumbent Klein's shift on union issue".
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*"Card check" is a derogatory term used by the Chamber of Commerce (the folks injecting foreign money into U.S. elections) and their mouthpieces in the traditional media.
"At the same time Alex Sink tried to ban felons from selling mortgages in Florida, her own state office was licensing ex-cons in the insurance business."
Sink's discretionary power to reject a license comes at the end of one of the most rigorous application processes in the country, according to several national insurance groups."CFO Alex Sink licensed ex-felons to sell insurance after bashing other agency for similar moves".
Florida requires 200 hours of training to sell property and casualty policies. All agents must be fingerprinted, including those who live out-of-state.
Would-be agents with a criminal history must wait five, 10 or 15 years after the crime before receiving a license. Lesser crimes, such as public drunkenness or disorderly conduct, require the shortest waiting period, while the 15-year punishment is reserved for insurance-related violations, like falsifying insurance claims, or the most heinous crimes such as murder or rape.
"Florida is one of the toughest places to get an insurance license in the country, if not the toughest," Florida Association of Insurance Agents vice president Scott Johnson said.
"A smart strategy"
"Constantly linking Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek to President Obama's policies is proving to be 'a smart strategy' for Republican Marco Rubio in Florida's U.S. Senate race, a new poll indicated on Wednesday." "Linking Crist, Obama paying off for Rubio".
"Jeb!" laff riot
"Jeb! says Deb! is treading on his trade mark. A lawyer for former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush has sent Deborah Gianoulis, a candidate for the Florida Senate, a letter demanding the Jacksonville Democrat cease using a red Deb! logo with white lettering." "Jeb! says Deb! treading on his trade mark".
"Crist's critical, and apparently failing, battle to woo Democratic voters away from Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate race got a boost Wednesday from a member of the nation's Democratic royal family. Attacking Republican Marco Rubio as a member of the radical and "crackpot" tea party movement and praising Meek but calling him unelectable, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. threw his support behind Crist, who is running as an independent." "Crist gets Kennedy backing in U.S. Senate race but trails Rubio badly in latest poll".
"Will they all stay silent?"
Howard Troxler: "The only possible response to the newest scandalous revelations about that "Taj Mahal" courthouse in Tallahassee ..."
Is to block the 1st District Court of Appeal from occupying that corrupt, stinking, ill-gotten $48 million palace that it arranged for itself."New scandal shows the 'Taj Mahal' must be stopped".
Lock the door. Kick them out. Make them move.
I don't care how the Florida Supreme Court, the governor, the Cabinet and the Legislature do it.
But the 1st District Court of Appeal and Corruption cannot be allowed to take this building.
It would be like giving Al Capone a medal.
What does it take for the Supreme Court to speak out?
What does it take for the oh-so-righteous, "honor"-of-our-profession Florida Bar to speak out?
What does it take for every judge, every other appeals court in Florida?
Will they all stay silent?
Amendment 4 details are fuzzy
"A proposed change to the state Constitution could give voters power to approve or reject real-estate developments, although details are fuzzy." "Amendment 4: Question could change South Florida landscape".
Wingers dig deep
"Scott 527 nets $308,000 in four days".
Mail ballot mess
"If you changed your mailing address recently and just requested an absentee ballot, there's a small chance you might not get it quickly because of a glitch in the state's voter database." "Computer glitch may slow absentee ballot mailings statewide".
Plenty of alternatives
"In the top statewide races, voters have plenty of alternatives to Democrats and Republicans." "Dislike major candidates? Ballot has other choices".
"CFO Race Overshadowed by Others".
"Fla. class-size debate over flexibility, funding". See also "Amendment 8 gives voters chance for second thoughts on strict class-size limits".
"Republican Pam Bondi holds a steady lead over Democrat Dan Gelber in the race for Florida attorney general, a new Sunshine State News tracking poll shows." "Poll Shows Bondi Holds Edge Against Gelber in AG Race".
Teacher haters scratching their heads
"Claim that 'We don't care about Democrats or Republicans' is half right, GOP skeptics say". "Teachers Union Shows Its True (Blue) Color".
Maverick Argenziano backs Sink
"Nancy Argenziano is leaving the Public Service Commission her way."
Denied re-nomination by a legislatively controlled selection committee, the PSC chairwoman said Wednesday she's not sure what she will do next. A lifelong Republican, she's supporting Democrat Alex Sink for governor and plans to continue to advocate separation of utility regulation from the political influence of elected lawmakers."Argenziano leaving PSC, supporting Sink for governor". See also "Nancy Argenziano Quits PSC to Back Alex Sink".
"The claims of fraud are real, but suggesting through images that police raided or seized records from Solantic is misleading. Ads are about both the visuals and the words campaigns choose. In this case, the Democratic Party is inflating the allegations against Solantic by including video of sheriff's tape and police collecting evidence. There have been no reports that we could find of police raiding a Solantic facility. And the Democratic Party, when asked, could provide no evidence of any such search. We rate that claim False." "Sink's ad attacking Scott gets fraud claim right, but also misleads".
"Ros-Lehtinen to address women business owners".