"Allen West, a national tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for Congress in Florida's 22nd Congressional District, has (to put it mildly) some controversial friends."
According to a new report from NBC News, West has been a fan and defender of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a national group targeted by the FBI for involvement in racketeering, "violent crimes" and "attempted murder.""FL Tea Party Favorite Spoke To & Defended Criminal Biker Gang". More: "Florida Tea Party Favorite Spoke To, Defended Criminal Biker Gang (VIDEO)" and West "Not a Nazi Dresser, But ..." and
As NBC reported tonight, West has had personal dealings with the Florida chapter of the Outlaws ...
The GOPers don't seem to care: "Klein-West Race Update: GOP PAC Man Storms In". See also "Klein, West trade barbs in close congressional race".
Sink continues to surge
"Swapping positions, Democrat Alex Sink has taken a lead over Republican Rick Scott in Florida's tightly contested gubernatorial race, according to a new Sunshine State News Poll."
The fall campaign's first nightly tracking poll of 2,000 likely voters shows Sink moving ahead of Scott, 48-45. That's a 9-point swing since Oct. 6, when Scott led Sink, 50-44."Poll: Alex Sink Trades Places With Rick Scott".
Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, which conducted the polls, cautioned that the results are "not conclusive that Sink is ahead. We will see ebb and flow in nightly polling."
Still, Lee called the swing toward Sink in the latest Oct. 12-13 sampling "fairly significant." ...
Why Scott might be stumbling amid a Republican surge is an open question.
Sink spokeswoman Kyra Jennings said, "Every day Floridians are learning the truth about Rick Scott and these latest polls show that character counts in this race."
Kenneth Quinnell, director of the Florida Progressive Coalition, offered, "Sink is pulling ahead because she's running a series of well-made ads that include Republicans criticizing Scott for his past."
Recall that Public Policy Polling did very well in forecasting Florida's senatorial and gubernatorial primaries. See "PPP nails the Florida primary". Earlier in week: "PPP has Sink ahead by 5".
Webster denies he's an extremist
"Webster's views on social issues such as abortion — he opposes it even for victims of rape or incest and when the mother's health is at risk — do place him on the most conservative end of his Republican Party. "
He has promoted his faith and 100 percent rating from the Christian Coalition of Florida in campaign fliers mailed to some voters. But he dismisses the notion that he would push his religious views if elected."Dan Webster denies U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson's claim he is religious extremist".
"I would say I have a social-conservative mind, but the way I have been portrayed is inaccurate. I know I'm not that person," Webster said. "I am a conservative. I'm pro-life; I'm pro-family. But if you take a look at my 28 years, show me anywhere in there that I'm the kind of person he's trying to portray me as."
Though abortion rights are protected under federal law, Webster has pushed to limit the practice.
In 1989, he sponsored a law requiring girls younger than 18 to obtain a parent's consent before obtaining an abortion. When it was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court as unconstitutional, he passed a similar law that required parental notification. It, too, was struck down.
In 1997, Webster pushed a law that would impose jail time for doctors who perform so-called partial-birth abortions.
His last year in the Senate, he sponsored a bill to require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and, unless they signed a waiver, view the results. Exemptions were included for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking, but only if they could produce evidence of the crime. The measure failed on a tie vote, but similar legislation passed this year after Webster's exit. ...
Though Americans are split on abortion, the percentage of people who share Webster's view that it should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest is much smaller. A 2009 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put those supporting that position at 15 percent. ...
In 1990, Webster sponsored a bill that would have made covenant marriage an option under Florida law. Couples who elected to enter a covenant marriage after getting their parents' permission and attending premarital counseling could have divorced only in cases of adultery. Divorce would be prohibited if both parties had cheated.
"His current predicament is widely known. Much less discussed — in fact never before told — is how Greer ascended to such prominence in the first place. He is a man with limited education and a past that includes resume fibs and racy run-ins with the police — also, though, an undeniable ability to shake the right hands, meet the right people and charm the ones who had what he wanted." "What we didn't know before Jim Greer's ascent".
Puffing Mr. Scott
"Six months ago, all most people knew about Scott was that he once ran Columbia/HCA, which paid a record $1.7 billion federal fine for Medicare fraud. Scott left with a golden parachute of $310 million. He moved from Connecticut to Naples in 2003, meeting Florida's seven-year residency requirement for candidates with just weeks to spare. He had never run for office. Now he's doing what no Florida candidate has ever done: spent $55 million — so far — of his own fortune in pursuit of political power." "Rick Scott the TV image well known, Rick Scott the man is not".
Early voting begins
"Early Voting Starts Monday". See also "Early voting starts Monday in Dade, Broward".
Scott backsliding on choice?
"A Florida legislator says in an e-mail that gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has vowed to support a bill outlawing almost any abortion. That would have been a change from previous statements, but Scott's campaign said today he hasn't re-evaluated his position." "Scott denies e-mail promising abortion ban". See also "Florida GOP governor candidate Scott denies e-mail promising abortion ban".
Editorial board embarrasses itself
The Orlando Sentinel's campaign against Alan Grayson culminated with the editorial board fully inserting their collective noses into Webster's derriere with this expected endorsement yesterday: "Dan Webster over Alan Grayson for Congress".
Senate candidates hammer each other in debate
"A third debate in the three-way Senate race had Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist hammering each other, while Kendrick Meek poked both candidates." "Jabs grow sharper in 3-way Senate debate".
"Republican U.S. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio may be leading Charlie Crist by double digits but he didn't pull his punches when he ripped the governor as a phoney opportunist in a combative televised debate Friday."
Crist in turn cast former House Speaker Rubio as a political insider who can't be trusted. ..."In a brawling debate, U.S. Senate candidates tangle in Tampa". See also "U.S. Senate debate gets heated on Social Security, immigration and the Dream Act" and "FL-SEN Candidates Spar Over Social Security In Three-Way Debate". Related: "Kendrick Meek won't quit Senate race 'for any reason'".
The dynamic in a three-way debate with Crist, Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek is much different from a traditional two-person faceoff, and on Friday each candidate over and over again claimed to be "the only candidate,'' who will do this or that: Rubio, the only one to stand up against the Obama administration agenda; Crist, the only one who will pursue common sense policies rather than blind party allegiance; and Meek, the only "true blue" Democrat to stand up for the middle class.
"I'm not here on behalf of the CEO's of the world. I'm for the everyday people," declared Meek, noting that he is the only candidate who opposes extending the Bush tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000.
Meanwhile, "Libertarian Alex Snitker elbows his way into U.S. Senate race".
They never did like that class size thing
Like Jebbie, the Tampa Tribune editors never did like that class size thing: "Reasonable changes for class-size amendment".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board continue their hard right tilt: "Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate".
RPOFer "clowns, cowboys and crooks"
"Former Republican state Sen. Nancy Argenziano announced last week she was resigning three months early from the state Public Service Commission in order to back Democrat Alex Sink in the governor's race."
Argenziano is an Inverness Republican who was one of the Legislature's most outspoken members; she once sent a bale of manure to a lobbyist who'd fought one of her bills. She said she was bucking her party because Republican nominee Rick Scott's energy plan would allow "energy companies to regulate themselves" and railed against "pipsqueaks who think they own the Florida Legislature.""Aaron Deslatte: Ex-PSC chair injecting electricity rates into governor's race".
The "pipsqueaks" are the utilities and business groups who have pushed for big utility rate increases in order to finance power plant construction.
"I do not know that I can effectively portray the immensity of the danger of a marriage between the clowns, cowboys and crooks of the current Republican-led state legislature and Rick 'The Fifth Amendment' Scott," she said.
"Culture of corruption"
"In 1997, as the FBI unleashed a massive criminal investigation of Scott's hospital chain, Florida's State Board of Administration filed a civil lawsuit accusing Scott and his fellow hospital directors of profiting from a culture of corruption and selling stock 23 days before federal agents raided the company's offices in Texas." "Florida once sued would-be Gov. Rick Scott, accusing him of insider trading".
Scott cuts himself another check
"Democrat Alex Sink's campaign raised $382,000 from Oct. 2-10, bringing her total raised to $10.1 million. She has collected more than 63,000 checks of $500 or less. Republican Rick Scott wrote himself another check, this one for $1.7 million." "Sink camp breaks $10 million mark; Scott hits $56.5 million".
"How confident is the Republican Party that Marco Rubio will be the next senator from Florida?" "GOP getting more reasons to be confident".
Rove bankrolling West
"With less than three weeks to Election Day, national groups are stepping up their interest in South Florida's congressional races."
A powerful action committee with ties to Republican strategist Karl Rove and former Republican Party chair Ed Gillespie is targeting Rep. Ron Klein, the Boca Raton Democrat who wrested the Broward-Palm Beach district from the GOP in 2006. Klein, facing a challenge from Republican Allen West, is being bashed for supporting healthcare reform in TV ads that began airing Friday."Florida congressional races attracting national money".
America's Families First Action Fund, a group with ties to Democrats, is spending more than $400,000 to take on state Rep. David Rivera, who is challenging Democrat Joe Garcia for a GOP-controlled seat. The group is also active in House districts in Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, but as of Friday, it was spending the most money on the Garcia-Rivera race.
Obstruction of justice, perjury and contempt?
Talbot 'Sandy' D'Alemberte, past president of the American Bar Association, writes that "to invoke the Fifth Amendment, an individual must swear under oath that the reason for doing so is a fear of self-incrimination. There are no other circumstances that permit a person to avoid answering questions during a legal proceeding. "
But recent public statements by Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor, reveal that the reason he pleaded the Fifth Amendment was not to avoid self-incrimination. Instead it was to obstruct or stop what he now says was a lawyer's "fishing expedition.""Scott's pleading of 5th manipulated the system".
Invoking the Fifth Amendment just to avoid a "fishing expedition" can be obstruction of justice, perjury and lead to contempt of court. At issue is a deposition during which Scott was questioned about his role as the CEO of what was then the country's largest health care company. A federal investigation of Scott's company, Columbia/HCA, led to a record $1.7 billion in fines for defrauding Medicare, the health care program for seniors.
During this one deposition, Scott pleaded the Fifth Amendment 75 times.
As a lawyer, officer of the court and candidate for governor, Scott knew he had an obligation to uphold the rule of law and to act in conformance with the legal system's requirements. So when Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment while under oath, he could have only done so for one legitimate reason: to avoid incriminating himself.
Wingnut voter suppression schemes
"Election law seminars that a Republican lawyers group held in Illinois -- which happened to coincide with GOP senate candidate Mark Kirk being secretly recorded saying his campaign would be running voter integrity squads in predominately black neighborhoods of Chicago -- are actually part of a series of seminars the group is holding for Republican lawyers in several states around the country"
According to the Republican National Lawyers Association's Facebook page, they have held events in Illinois, Nevada, Wisconsin, California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida."The RNLA has been involved with training lawyers in the past several elections, has a particular focus on allegations of voter fraud and focuses on efforts which they are are meant to ensure 'ballot security' or 'election integrity,' which many voting rights experts say suppress minority turnout."
"Over the last several years they've been a very dominant player in this," Tova Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos, told TPMMuckraker on Friday. Demos, a public policy research and advocacy organization, put out a report on voter suppression this year and has called for poll watchers to be educated about voter laws. "I would not accuse them of doing anything untoward, but they certainly have been an organizing vehicle for poll watchers on the Republican side. I'd have to know what they are telling people to know whether it is a problem.""GOP Lawyers Group That Gins Up Voter Fraud Claims Hosting Training Events Across Country".
The RNLA is a well-connected group that has featured major conservative speakers at their events -- including RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Ed Gillespie. According to a press release on their 2010 Election efforts, they have trained over 1,000 lawyers across the country.
More: "Voting rights activists said tea partiers' efforts to obtain voter registration records could have a chilling effect on turnout, potentially undercutting Democrats and swaying the outcome of the Nov. 2 elections. ... dozens of tea party-aligned groups have sought records and are planning to visit polling places on Election Day to enforce their own 'voter protection" programs.'" "Warnings of voter suppression". See also "Pajamas Media Launches Anti-Voter Fraud Effort" ("Roger L. Simon wrote in a blog post that his company was seeking 'to develop a network of citizen journalists/poll watchers to monitor as many polling places as possible across the nation on election day.'").
Rivera in a pickle
"A Democratic donor has filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics accusing Republican state representative and congressional candidate David Rivera of hiding his income in disclosure forms filed annually. ... Rivera first told The Miami Herald that he won the USAID contracts through competitive bidding. After learning that USAID had no record of working with him, the Miami lawmaker then told the newspaper that he worked as a subcontractor to other USAID contractors -- but he will not name the companies that hired him." "Congressional candidate David Rivera faces ethics complaint".
"A new report says lawmakers should enact a 'sore loser' law and prevent party-switching before elections." "Legislature may change laws in wake of Crist GOP defection".
Scott: never mind that Arizona stuff
"Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott ran ads during the GOP primary, attacking his opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, for not supporting Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law. But since winning the primary, he has rarely mentioned the issue. His Democratic opponent, Florida CFO Alex Sink, opposes the Arizona immigration law." "Rick Scott not mentioning immigration in general election".
Haridopolos late to the game
"State Sen. Mike Haridopolos on Thursday demanded the head of the state's property-management agency resign because of "runaway spending" on the politically charged 1st District Court of Appeal." "Sen. Haridopolos calls for head of DMS to resign".
Teabaggers get a win in fight against health care
"A federal judge will allow portions of Florida's lawsuit challenging controversial national health-care law to proceed." "US judge allows part of health-care suit to proceed". See also "McCollum, Meek, White House sound off on decision allowing health care suit to proceed".
Boyd on the ropes in South Georgia
"Veteran Democrat faces a conservative tsunami on Panhandle". "CD 2: Is Allen Boyd on the Outs? Steve Southerland Sitting Pretty?". This should help: "NRA endorses Allen Boyd for Nov. 2 election".
"Gary Bauer Goes to Bat for Marco Rubio".
"A life spent crossing divides"
"For Sink, the quest to become Florida's first female governor seems less of a distinction than a natural progression in a life spent crossing divides." "Alex Sink mastered banking, but political ease is a stretch for the bookish candidate".
RPOFer booted off ballot
"A Tallahassee judge ruled Friday that Jim Norman violated state financial disclosure laws and should be removed from the Nov. 2 ballot as a Republican state Senate candidate."
Leon County Judge Jackie Fulford, ruling in a lawsuit brought by state Rep. Kevin Ambler, said Norman had a duty to disclose a gift of $500,000 from his political benefactor, the late Ralph Hughes. The money was a "gift," Fulford said, that paid the bulk of the purchase price for a lakefront home in Arkansas titled to Norman's wife, Mearline."Judge rules Norman ineligible for state Senate ballot".
"Defendant Jim Norman has failed to provide full and public disclosure as required by the Florida Constitution," Fulford wrote in her opinion. "It is clear to this court that Ralph Hughes gave Mearline Norman $500,000, for the benefit of Jim Norman, who at this time was a public official before whom Mr. Hughes regularly appeared."
The ruling sent state elections officials and Republican Party leaders scrambling to figure out what comes next. Florida law says party leaders have five days to choose a new nominee after the state Division of Elections declares a vacancy of nomination in state Senate District 12.
"Charlie Crist, sagging in polls, gains support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.".
Bogdanoff has fight on her hands
"State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff is a Fort Lauderdale Republican who has long been part of the inner circle of GOP leadership in Tallahassee. State Rep. Kelly Skidmore is a Boca Raton Democrat who has grabbed headlines fighting to regulate pain management clinics and prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians." "Fla. House veterans Bogdanoff, Skidmore fighting for Atwater's Senate seat".
"The hazards of lead in paint, pottery, gasoline and toys have been known for decades, but water managers were told last week that lead shot left behind by hunters on more than 687,000 acres of hunting grounds and wetlands owned by the South Florida Water Management District does not harm wildlife or the environment." "Potential hazard of wetlands contamination by lead ammo fires up Florida debate over hunting".
Sink endorsements rolling out
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Sink for governor". The Tampa Tribune editors: "Governor: Sink, for ideas, integrity".
Meanwhile, Mr. Scott is gettin' desperate: "New Scott ad attacks Sink for giving licenses to some charged with crimes" and "Gubernatorial Race Turns to Attacks Over Ethics". Related: "Curtains for Alex Sink".
RPOFer cash behind gerrymandering
"The campaign to change the way voting districts are drawn in Florida brought in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz — two well-known independents — to promote its cause Friday. But behind the scenes, much of the money for and against the reforms pushed by FairDistricts.org is tied to the major political parties."
Much of the nearly $6.9 million collected by FairDistricts.org comes from Democratic-leaning interest groups, unions and law firms. The opposition, led by Protect Your Vote, has raised $1.1 million so far. The biggest donor: the Republican Party of Florida, which gave $750,000 last week."Voters getting partisan pitches over proposed political boundary reforms". Related: "How gerrymandering sustains political dynasties".
The GOP's interest in maintaining the status quo is obvious. The Republican-controlled Legislature is poised to redraw voting districts by 2012 to reflect population shifts tracked by the U.S. Census. Voters will weigh in Nov. 2 on two constitutional amendments that say the districts can't be drawn to protect a politician or a party.
"Not going anywhere"
"Political signs are not going anywhere -- until after Election Day".
To drill again
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "President Obama's decision to lift a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico may rank as one of his most effective moves to stimulate the dormant economy." "Drilling decision strikes the right balance".
Time for a nap
"According to a recent Mason-Dixon poll, voters older than 65 are splitting evenly between the two candidates for Florida's governor, with 43 percent for each." "Feeling Ignored, Senior Voters Dissatisfied With Candidate Choices".