Businesses fill RPOF's coffers
"In Florida, where donations to individual candidates are subject to strict limits, the big money in politics tends to flow through the parties, campaign committees and other channels. This is one reason why our state leads the nation in spending by party committees, and also why the fundraising totals of state-level candidates seldom yield eye-popping sums." "Who’s buying Florida’s political parties?".
Mary Ellen Klas: "The Republican Party of Florida collected a record $3.4 million in the second quarter, between April 1 and June 30, exceeding donations from every off-year election during the same period since 1997, when Republicans took control of the Legislature."
The Florida Democratic Party didn't have the same success, raising just $1.1 million, nearly identical to what it raised the past two off-year election cycles during the same quarter. This year, however, $426,000 of its collections came from a political action committee formed by Republicans to elect Alvin Brown, the Democratic mayor of Jacksonville.Ironically,
The largest donations to Republicans came from the state's electric monopolies, health care companies, hospitals and insurers. The biggest sum came from Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy and its affiliate Florida Power & Light Co. which contributed $280,000. U.S. Sugar Corp. and its affiliates gave $275,000. Individuals and companies affiliated with Anderson Mining gave $190,000. Tenet Healthcare Corp. contributed $160,000. TECO Energy gave $145,000. And HCA and several of its Florida affiliates gave Republicans $110,000.
The largest Democratic Party donor was a group called Conservatives for a Better Jacksonville. It gave $426,000 to successfully elect Brown. The group was financed primarily by Republican fundraiser and former St. Joe Co. head Peter Rummell. Other major contributors to the Democratic Party included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which gave $124,624, and the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which gave $41,000.The contributions are worth every penny:
Private prison giant, the GEO Group, gave the party $100,000 after it succeeded in persuading the Legislature to privatize additional prisons in Florida. "Big business still filling state GOP coffers". See also "Utilities and health care companies help Republicans raise more than $3.48 million".
The best they can do?
"Florida 2012 Senate race grows larger". See also "Newest U.S. Senate candidate makes stop in Tampa".
The benefits of incumbency
"Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson will report raising $1.85 million for his re-election the three months that ended June 30. The amount the campaign announced Tuesday is nearly double the highest total raised last quarter by any of the Republicans hoping to challenge him. In all, Nelson has more than $6 million in the bank for next year's election." "Sen. Nelson doubles nearest GOP foe in fundraising". Related: "GOP field seeking Nelson's seat continues to grow; as does Nelson's campaign chest".
Mica would eviscerate the Clean Water Act
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "U.S. Rep. John Mica, the Winter Park Republican whose district hugs the east coast of Florida and stretches from near Jacksonville to the Orlando area, should appreciate the benefits of clean water. Yet Mica is sponsoring legislation scheduled for a House vote today to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce the Clean Water Act." "Do we want more of this?".
Lipstick on a pig
Aaron Deslatte: "Buoyed by complete control of state government, Florida Republicans are killing Democrats in the dash for campaign cash this year, and the GOP is putting that money to use to improve the governor's public image."
The first-year governor has had sagging poll numbers in a string of surveys during the past three months. And the political pollsters, consultants and direct-mail gurus that entered Scott's campaign orbit last year are reaping the biggest payouts from RPOF coffers this year: upward of $500,000 in the past three months."Republicans dash for cash as Scott wages PR makeover". See also "GOP spends big to boost Rick Scott's popularity".
Direct-mail shop Public Concepts ($145,941.24), Scott pollster Tony Fabrizio ($119,250) and Scott's campaign phone-bank firm Advantage Inc. ($79,503.67) led the charge.
Another robo-call shop called Election Connections.com was paid $69,948.12 for its phone calls to voters, and Harris Media — Scott's Texas-based public-relations firm, which since his election has opened a Tallahassee office and hired his daughter — was paid $23,927.16 for Web ads for Scott and $11,638 for website work. Donna Arduin, the resident economic adviser who wrote Scott's "777" jobs plan last summer, was paid $46,000 for the three months.
RPOF Executive Director Andy Palmer said the governor has "a great story to tell the voters" about five straight months of declining unemployment, $205 million in property-tax cuts and his push to crack down on "pill mills."
"The calls and web ads are a very efficient way to directly keep voters informed about what the governor and Republican leadership is doing to get our state back to work," Palmer said.
Scott rams head further into the sand
"Feds Moving on Health Care Law, Gov. Scott Not Budging".
"Republican political player snared in controversy"
"Harry Sargeant, a onetime Republican political player snared in controversies over a corruption probe and pricey war-time oil shipments, took the witness stand Tuesday in a contract dispute that reads more like a spy novel."
The case is replete with palace intrigue in the desert kingdom of Jordan, $2.7 billion in fuel contracts, a retired CIA agent, a general known as "the pasha" and a federal corruption investigation swirling around Sargeant, who refuses to comment about it."Harry Sargeant civil case reads like a spy novel". See also "Court fight pits former state GOP fundraiser against Jordan businessman with ties to royal family".
The civil lawsuit was filed by Jordan King Abdullah II's brother-in-law, Mohammed Al-Saleh, who accused the Delray Beach multimillionaire of cutting him out of the contracts to supply fuel to U.S. troops in Iraq.
Sargeant's defense: Saleh was paid for his work with the International Oil Trading Co. But, Sargeant said, Saleh wasn't entitled to profits from contracts that didn't involve him.
Another fine idea
"Under a new law pushed by Gov. Rick Scott, the district cannot collect more than $284.9 million in property taxes next year -- 30 percent less than it collected this year. To accomplish those cuts, water managers sliced about 30 percent from each of four distinct tax programs that make up the district's total tax rate." "Water managers' 29 percent tax-rate cut means $27 tax savings on $200,000 home".
Ahem ... try increasing wages
Frank Cerabino: "In Georgia, crops are rotting in the fields because migrant workers aren't there to pick them. 'We don't have a workforce,' said Bryan Tolar, the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a group that represents about 700 farmers and agricultural businesses in that state. 'Where are we supposed to get it?'" "Crops rot as Georgia feels effects of immigration law".
Teabagger: Manatee protection "against the Bible and the Bill of Rights"
"Everybody knows what the tea party members oppose. High taxes. Big government. Obama's health care plan. High-speed rail."
Now, for at least some local tea party members, there's one more to add: manatee protection."Tea party members tackle a new issue: manatees".
A Citrus County tea party group has announced that it's fighting new restrictions on boating and other human activities in Kings Bay that have been proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We cannot elevate nature above people," explained Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. "That's against the Bible and the Bill of Rights."
Weiner in town
"Shamed former New York congressman Anthony Weiner escaped to Miami with pregnant wife Huma to celebrate their anniversary." "Anthony Weiner escapes to Miami".
Another Rubio publicity stunt
"The mother of Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after an 85-day hunger strike, gave emotional accounts Tuesday of her son's death in captivity to dismayed lawmakers."
A sober-faced Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, led Reina Luisa Tamayo to meetings with senators and House members who listened in rapt attention as she described Zapata's ordeal at the notorious Kilo 7 prison in Camaguey province.Rubio of course denigrated the testimony by pulling a publicity stunt:
Rubio, elected to his first Senate term last November, held up what he said was incriminating evidence of a different sort."Mother of late Cuban dissident talks to lawmakers".
Displaying a recent newspaper article about increased U.S. tourism opportunities in Cuba, Rubio criticized President Barack Obama for loosening the decades-old travel ban.
The Obama administration this year started allowing students and church groups to travel to Cuba.
"Scott still suffering from dismal approval ratings"
"Despite a recent public relations push funded by the Republican Party of Florida, a new poll released this week shows that Gov. Rick Scott is still suffering from dismal approval ratings."
The new poll from Sunshine State News shows that Scott has little support from either Democrats or independent voters and that he is drawing support from just 48 percent of Republicans. Scott was given low marks from voters regardless of where they live. A whopping 70 percent of voters from Southeast Florida disapprove of Scott, but even in Republican bastions he is drawing low marks. Only 36 percent of voters from Southwest Florida and 33 percent of voters in North Florida and the Panhandle approved of the job he is doing."New poll shows that Scott's approval rating remains low".
The right wingers aren't fazed: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott's 58 percent disapproval rating may be scary to Republicans, but it's neither surprising nor necessarily lethal, a new Sunshine State News Poll finds." "For Rick Scott, a Tough Road to Reform".
"Millionaires make up almost half of the 40-member Florida Senate and nearly one-third of the 120-member Florida House. Fifty-one of the lawmakers that filed financial disclosure forms by the July 1 deadline were millionaires." "Florida legislature home to dozens of millionaires". See also "Florida Legislature Home to Dozens of Millionaires".
What's a manager to do?
"Hefty severance payouts in Miami could become thing of the past".
"Don’t touch Medicare"
"With debt ceiling negotiations going on in Washington and the political positioning for 2012 already beginning, Florida Democrats and interest groups have a clear message for candidates and incumbents: Don’t touch Medicare." "Dems Ramp Up Entitlement Program Rhetoric".
"Homeless paid to loiter"
"Police: Homeless paid to loiter at vice mayor's home".
Bondi fires foreclosure fraud investigators
"A newspaper reported on Tuesday that two foreclosure fraud investigators who had been going after banks and law firms accused being of foreclosure mills were forced from their jobs ... despite positive job reviews." "Bondi forced out foreclosure fraud investigators".
Orlando Sentinel renews Grayson attack
"Alan Grayson has announced he's running for Congress again after getting booted from office in 2010. Seems like only yesterday the pugnacious Democrat was saying the Republican health care plan was for sick people to die quickly." "Today's Buzz: Does Alan Grayson belong back in Congress?".
"What Would Charlie Crist Do?"
Could it be that Ricky "Scott finally heeded what the people were saying? That when he runs again, he wants to win by more than a whisker? That someone savvy now has enough of his ear to convince him that this was really not one he wanted to bulldoze through?"
Scott saw a distressing (or heartening, depending on where you sit) lack of falling-in-line even with some in his own party. We Floridians may spar over everything from health care to the death penalty, but a whole lot of us agree our parks are worth saving the way they are."Scott gets one right".
Maybe for Scott the deal was sealed on late-night cable, when Stephen Colbert took a poke at a prewritten letter on Scott's website that supporters were supposed to sign and send to newspapers extolling the many virtues of … well, Scott.
When a rock star of a comedian always hungry for daily political absurdity rates you his current favorite governor, this is a not good thing.
Let's consider how governors past might have handled this one.
Jeb Bush would have quickly grasped the political punch of the opposition and perhaps tabled the plan for further study. Charlie Crist would have been in populist heaven and killed it immediately, with a big shiny sword if possible.
So who would have guessed Scott would go all What Would Charlie Crist Do on us, talking of "national treasures" that belong to taxpayers and how it would be "unfair to proceed with a plan that so many Floridians are so adamantly opposed to."
"Fewer lawmakers, stronger representation"
"More than two dozen state legislators filled the stage at the News-Journal Center [in Daytona Beach] seeking input Tuesday night on how Florida's political boundaries should be redrawn." "Voters request fewer lawmakers, stronger representation".