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 Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nan Rich shakes up 2014 Governor's race

    With recently elected Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Alex Sink all but committed to run against Scott in 2014, Nan Rich has made it official: "State Sen. Nan Rich said she made up her mind months ago to run for governor, but it wasn't until a short video was posted on YouTube that people really took notice."
    The 1-minute, 39-second video was recorded by someone at the Broward Democratic Party's monthly meeting Tuesday. It begins with the sound of people chanting "run, Nan, run" after a member of the audience asked about her plans to challenge Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

    "I am planning on running for governor in 2014," Rich responded, eliciting more cheers and even a standing ovation from some.

    The Weston Democrat didn't expect the video to bring so much attention to her pending candidacy, she said Wednesday. ...

    But other prominent Democrats are also rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2014, including state party chairman Rod Smith, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Alex Sink, who lost to Scott in 2010.

    Even former Gov. Charlie Crist, who dropped his Republican Party affiliation, is rumored to be considering a bid as a Democrat.

    During her statement to Broward Republicans, Rich mentioned that Crist could be running as a Democrat. That elicited jeers from the crowd.

    Republican consultant Brian Hughes, a former spokesman for Scott, said Democrats would do well to question a run by Crist. Rich's campaign would have credibility, he said.
    "State Sen. Nan Rich running for governor in 2014".

    The rich are different

    "Mitt Romney has accomplished something remarkable: After six years of running for president, millions spent on TV ads and copious debates, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee remains a stranger even to his supporters." "Tampa Bay focus group provides a window into Romney's woes".

    Let them eat cake

    "A day after the governor vetoed $142 million from the state budget, officials at an organization that provides legal help for low income Floridians said the decision will mean fewer attorneys." "Gov. Rick Scott veto hurts legal assistance program for poor".

    Rubio fights for banks

    "Over the objections of Florida lawmakers, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued a new rule that will force banks to disclose the identity of foreigners who deposit their money in America."

    "This is going to have a devastating impact on Florida and Florida banks," said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has filed legislation, along with U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, to block the rule. Banks in South Florida could be hit especially hard.

    Rubio and others argue the change, announced late Tuesday, will harm states such as Florida whose banks have significant foreign deposits. According to one estimate, foreigners have put as much as $100 billion in Florida banks -- roughly $1 out of every $4 in the state. ...

    While generally panned in Florida, the move did generate applause from groups committed to stem the global flow of illicit money.

    "If you want to get to the heart of any violent crime, it comes down to money," said Heather Lowe of Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based group that backs stronger reporting rules.

    She said transparency makes it more difficult for black-market brokers to bank their money, in addition to helping the U.S. recover tax money that "we sorely need."
    "Florida bankers object to disclosing identities of foreign depositors".

    The upward redistributionist crew's war on public sector workers

    Dean Baker writes, "welcome to the latest episode in the long-running battle to redistribute ever more income to the rich. Having already achieved great success in depressing the pay of workers throughout the private sector, the call is to cut the pay and benefits of workers in the public sector. Won't you join the cause?"

    Politicians across the country are using heaping doses of the politics of envy to try to arouse the anger of workers. However, their targets are not the corporate CEOs pulling down tens of millions of dollars a year in pay and bonuses. Nor is it the Wall Street crew that got incredibly rich inflating the housing bubble and then took government handouts to stay alive through the bust. The targets of these politicians' wrath are school teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers.

    They are outraged that many of these workers still earn enough to support a middle-class family. Even more outrageous, many of these workers have traditionally defined benefit pensions that assure them of a modicum of comfort in retirement. Having managed to ensure that most workers in the private sector did not benefit much from economic growth over the last three decades, the same upward redistributionist crew is turning their guns on public sector workers.
    "The War on Public Sector Workers".

    Mica discovers "ethics"

    "Rep. John Mica Chips Away at Tip of GSA's 'Outrageous' Iceberg".

    Accoutrements of a "single man running as a political conservative"

    "Working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, prosecutors examined Rivera’s spending from campaign accounts during his years as a state lawmaker and concluded that Rivera 'essentially live[d] off' campaign contributions for several years, according to a memo released late Wednesday. But state laws on campaign and legislative spending made prosecution impossible, the State Attorney’s Office concluded."

    For example, the FDLE found that Rivera, a Miami Republican, charged travel expenses to both his campaign accounts and his legislative office account — resulting in $29,500 in double-billing from 2006 to 2010, the records show. But prosecutors said they could not charge Rivera with felony theft, because state law says any charges based on false travel vouchers must only be misdemeanors — and must be prosecuted within two years of the offense.

    Through his campaign, Rivera issued a statement calling the prosecution memo "outrageous and libelous." He said the report fails to mention 'detailed evidence refuting all of their false allegations' that Rivera provided to investigators.

    "In the end, however, one fact remains. Congressman Rivera has been exonerated," the statement said.

    Much of the investigation focused on expenses charged to Rivera’s campaign accounts, including dry cleaning services, pet services, dental care, and 'travel expenses for his girlfriend,' according to a July 2011 FDLE report. The FDLE believed Rivera spent as much as $65,000 in campaign funds on "non-campaign related credit card charges" from 2006 to 2010, records show.

    But Rivera argued that his entire life is devoted to politics — making almost every expense a political expense that can be reimbursed with campaign funds, according to the prosecutors’ memo. Indeed, Rivera argued that he was still owed thousands of dollars in campaign funds for gas and wear and tear on his car from driving to political events. ...

    In a meeting with prosecutors, Rivera also said it was not improper to use campaign funds to pay for expenses for female travel companions because "as a single man running as a political conservative, it was necessary for him to appear at campaign related events with a female escort," the memo says.

    In a second statement issued late Wednesday, Rivera's campaign said: "Among the many fabrications in their report, Congressman Rivera never stated his campaign travel included female companions due to his status as a "single man running as a political conservative." Congressman Rivera plans on conferring with attorneys to consider the possibility of legal action against the State Attorney for this and other libelous statements."
    And then there's this:
    Prosecutors also investigated whether Rivera filed misleading financial disclosure statements while in the Florida Legislature, by failing to disclose some $510,000 paid by a Miami dog track that hired Rivera as a consultant for a political campaign to win voter approval for slot machines at parimutuels. The money was paid not to Rivera, but to Millennium Marketing, a company managed by Rivera’s mother and her business partner, records show.

    Investigators traced at least $137,000 of that money from the company back to Rivera. But Rivera’s mother, Daisy Magarino, and her partner, Ileana Medina, told prosecutors that the payments to Rivera were loans, not income. When Rivera needed money, "they lent it to him," Medina told prosecutors.

    Magarino and Medina provided copies of promissory notes intended to confirm the loans — but they could not produce originals. However, prosecutors said they could not disprove the characterization of the payments as loans.

    The dog-track payments remain the subject of a separate investigation by the FBI and the IRS.
    "Authorities call for tougher campaign finance laws following Rivera probe".

    Mini Mack's daddy lashes out against the "liberal media"

    William March: "The Connie Mack IV Senate campaign is lashing out against the 'liberal media,' singling out two newspapers and two reporters – Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times and Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald – it says are attacking Mack to help Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson."

    And the campaign is rolling out its big gun for the attack: It’s in a letter from Mack’s father, former Sen. Connie Mack III, an elder statesman among Florida Republicans, to donors and supporters.

    The fracas follows comments by state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater saying he is seriously considering jumping into the race.

    It also follows a weekend story by Caputo and Smith saying Republicans were disillusioned by Mack’s "lackluster" campaign. Caputo had earlier done a story on Mack’s history of bar brawls and financial problems that led GOP primary opponent George LeMieux to call Mack "the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics.
    "Mack's father lashes out at media in letter". See also "Attacks Fly Over 'Left-Wing Media'".

    Joe Henderson think's that is just "Brilliant. Pin the tail on the godless media frequently and loudly enough, and who knows? Maybe everyone will forget the puzzlement that created this mess in the first place." "GOP's Senate bid slips".

    Rubio looks to create an economic underclass of legal immigrants

    "Although Rubio has not yet written a bill, the version he has discussed contains a major difference from the Dream Act as it stands: Beneficiaries would be eligible for non-immigrant visas that would allow them to stay in the country legally and work. But those visas would not be a path to permanent residence or citizenship."

    Rubio's stance, and news reports that other Republican members of Congress may introduce their own versions of the Dream Act, have brought the lawmakers strong opposition from a traditional ally: the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the most powerful conservative immigration­-­related group in the U.S.

    "Besides being an inept political stunt that is unlikely to gain them much traction among Latino voters, the Dream Act 2.0 is based on the same flawed premises that make the Democrats' Dream Act a bad idea," federation President Dan Stein said. "Pandering to Latino voters with the Dream Act 2.0 not only won't impress voters who are committed to amnesty for illegal aliens, but would only exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration."

    Rubio also drew the ire of the Tequila Party, a national Hispanic group that called his plan "a divisive tactic" that would turn beneficiaries into a permanent underclass.
    "Rubio crafting compromise immigrant bill".

    Web war

    "Web pages bearing the names of three Republican candidates in the 19th Congressional District aren't their websites at all -- and they're not very complimentary." "CD 19 Cyber Campaign Heats Up as Trey Radel Foes Blast Co-Opted Web Pages".

    Explaining Central Florida

    Joy Reid: "Read this: Steve Schale explains Central Florida (with bonus polling geekery)".

    Obama's campaign launches Spanish-language TV and radio ads in Florida

    "President Barack Obama's re-election campaign launched Spanish-language TV and radio ads in Florida on Wednesday, featuring an Orlando Latina, and added a few words of his own in Spanish. The positive ads deliver first-person accounts from Obama for America organizers about how the president's policies affected Hispanic families and communities." "Obama launches Spanish ads in Florida".

    "Stand Your Ground" Task Force

    "Rick Scott: Expect 'Stand Your Ground' Task Force within Two Weeks". The Palm Beach Post editorial board thinks the "NRA should save its ammo".

    $38 million in vetoes to health care services

    "Of the more then $142 million that Gov. Rick Scott vetoed from the already tight $70 billion budget yesterday, more than $38 million came in cuts to health care services. The Florida Current reports that Scott stands by eliminating the projects because they 'weren’t a good use of taxpayers’ money and did not serve a statewide need.'" "Scott says he gave each health care project in the budget ‘equal and fair consideration’". See also "Scott's health care vetoes hit young, old across the state". But see "Scott approves funding for breast and cervical cancer detection program".

    Road projects vetoed

    "Scott's line item vetoes took about $1.4 million for six road projects in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and $5 million for infrastructure improvement in Miami. Another $12.3 million came from state payments to the expressway authorities." "Veto pen blots out funding for 6 South Florida road projects, expressway authorities".

    Frankel claims lead

    "Lois Frankel is claiming a strong lead over Kristin Jacobs in the contest for the Democratic nomination for Congress in a critical Broward-Palm Beach County district. Though a large share of Democrats haven't yet made up their minds, Frankel's campaign said Wednesday a new poll shows her leading Jacobs 46 percent to 16 percent." "Lois Frankel poll shows lead over Kristin Jacobs in Congress primary".

    Scott wastes money on drug testing welfare applicants

    "Required drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits ended up costing taxpayers more than it saved and failed to curb the number of prospective applicants, data used against the state in an ongoing legal battle shows." "Florida didn't save money by drug testing welfare recipients, data shows".

    "Mini Mack" gets a Super PAC

    "Freedom PAC, the second shadowy political-action committee in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, announced itself Wednesday and pledged to get Congressman Connie Mack elected."

    The announcement of the "Super PAC" comes just as Mack endured back-to-back losses in recent Republican straw polls and questions about his campaign, which only has about $1.3 million in the bank. Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson has $9.5 million on hand.

    Freedom PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums from corporations to help out Mack, can effectively erase the cash deficit Mack has with Nelson. The committees are prohibited from coordinating most of their activities with the campaigns.

    Mack was targeted in February by what appears to be a pro-Nelson committee, Saving Florida’s Future, which released a web ad. It mocked the Fort Myers congressman as a "Mini Mack" shadow of his dad, lobbyist and former Sen. Connie Mack III.
    "Rounding out Freedom PAC’s consultant ranks: Rob Cole, adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former New York Gov. George Pataki; and Jake Menges, adviser to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani."
    The three all have ties to Arthur Finkelstein, adviser for McCollum, Mack and the former senator, who wrote a fundraising-pitch letter Wednesday that complained about the way the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times cover his son.

    Mack’s campaign also boasted Wednesday of winning an unscientific online poll and trumpeted the endorsement of the American Conservative Union, a Washington group headed by lobbyist and former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas.
    "Super PACs began to spread after the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 'Citizens United' case."
    Under federal law, a federal candidate may solicit for his Super Pac but only up to the federal limit, which is $5,000 per year ...

    However, regardless of what a candidate solicits, donors can decide to give as much as they want [wink, wink]. That type of help is key in Florida, where a successful statewide campaign generally needs to burn through $1 million or more a week on television ads at the height of the election.
    "New Super PAC backs GOP Senate candidate Connie Mack".

    Election clock ticking on congressional redistricting lawsuit

    "With the election clock ticking, a Florida circuit court judge said Wednesday he will decide quickly on whether to throw out the Legislature's congressional redistricting map, develop a new map in a matter of weeks or leave it alone."

    At issue is the congressional redistricting map passed by legislators in February and whether it respects the political and geographic boundaries, creates districts as compactly as possible, and properly protects the voting rights of minorities.

    A group of citizens, the Florida Democratic Party and the Fair Districts coalition have sued to invalidate the map. They allege it violates the new anti-gerrymandering standards imposed by voters in 2010.

    Their most racially charged allegation is that the Republican map illegally packs Democrats into districts to bleach the adjacent districts and make them elect more Republicans. They argue that the black districts should include fewer Democrats, thereby spreading out their voting strength and making the adjacent districts more competitive.
    "Arguments begin over redistricting Florida's congressional districts". See also "Dems battle GOP congressional district map lines in court".

    The best he could do?

    One of Scott's recent ads: "The setting: a high school classroom. Scott, in his trademark blue button-down, is joined by a woman who says she teaches American government. The unidentified woman goes on to praise the hospital executive-turned-state leader."

    Strange, that.

    Scott, after all, picked some pretty high-profile fights with the state’s 180,000 public school teachers in 2011 -- supporting and signing a bill that tied teacher pay raises to the test scores of their students, championing a proposal that cut teacher pay 3 percent to help the state balance its budget, and lobbying lawmakers on a failed proposal that would strip power from the teachers' union by prohibiting it from collecting dues through automatic payroll deductions.
    "So is that a public school teacher now shilling for Scott? Or is it an actor?"
    Her name is Heather Viniar. She’s 26, and a first-year teacher at Immokalee High School in Collier County.

    Viniar -- who switched her party affiliation in 2011 from Democrat to Republican and didn’t vote in the 2010 governor’s election, according to voting records -- said she’s aware that many public school teachers and the teachers’ union have often opposed Scott’s policies. (Viniar had been a member of the union, the Florida Education Association, but stopped paying dues because she couldn’t afford them.)
    "Who's that teacher?".

    Is state forcing counties to pick up too much of the cost of juvenile detention?

    "An administrative law judge Monday will hear arguments in part of a wide-ranging dispute about whether the state is forcing counties to pick up too much of the cost of juvenile detention." "Florida counties challenge costs of juvenile detention".

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