Republican Congressman David Rivera's $50,000 mystery
"Buried amid the records compiled in the recently concluded criminal probe of Republican Congressman David Rivera is a $50,000 mystery."
Why did an obscure Republican organization pay $25,000 in 2006 to a defunct company founded by Rivera's mother? Why did a political consultant with close ties to Rivera receive another $25,000 on the very same day? And where did the money come from in the first place?"U.S. Rep. David Rivera investigation left behind $50,000 mystery".
Further adding to the mystery: The Republican Party of Florida reportedly made a $50,000 payment to a Central Florida nonprofit group — money the group never received — on the same day the payments went to Rivera's mother and consultant. Are the payments connected?
These questions are among many left unanswered after an 18-month investigation of Rivera's finances by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, a probe prosecutors concluded last month without filing charges against the Miami lawmaker.
Investigators suspected Rivera of misusing campaign funds and concealing money he received while working as a consultant for a dog track seeking voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County. Rivera, who was elected to Congress in 2010 after eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, has denied any wrongdoing, and lambasted the investigation as flawed. He remains under investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
In a statement issued through his campaign, Rivera said the $50,000 was spent on a "voter outreach program" coordinated by the Miami chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, a little-known Hispanic group. Rivera also provided records of absentee-ballot materials mailed to voters under the Hispanic Assembly's name.
However, neither GOP officials nor Hispanic Assembly members recall such a campaign. And Rivera's mother told prosecutors in a sworn statement that her company — described by prosecutors as "non-existent" — never did any work that she could remember.
Update: "False alarm! Jeb Bush still not interested in VP job".
"Jeb Bush has been mostly dismissive to endless questions about him becoming Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee but in an interview in Italy, he sounded wide open to that prospect. Here's the answer the former Florida governor gave to the online Italian newspaper Linkiesta:"
"If Romney would offer me the post of vice president, I would consider the proposal with great interest. But I don't think he will choose me. I have a lot of respect for Mitt, and it would be a duty to help him defeat (Barack) Obama."Jeb Bush open to VP?"
"Landowners make millions at the environment’s expense"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Wetlands are fragile things, and in recent years Florida has done a horrible job of protecting them. But under Gov. Rick Scott, there are no limits to how far the state will go to change the rules to help big landowners make millions at the environment’s expense." "Failed stewardship puts Florida wetlands at risk".
Yesterday's Tampa Tribune editorial: "Scott's planning decisions invariably show he is a relative newcomer to the state. While he continually lambasts planning rules, he seems unaware that for decades lack of such standards proved costly to taxpayers, harmful to neighborhoods and destructive to the environment. Sensible state planning policies curtailed much of the abuse. The regulations, to be sure, sometimes could be excessive and occasional streamlining was justified, as with any government endeavor. But last year the governor and Legislature essentially abandoned the state's growth management responsibilities." "Scott ignores value of proper planning".
Scott's purge list dominated by Democrats, independents and Hispanics
Florida's "Division of Elections, which initially identified roughly 180,000 potential noncitizens by searching a computer database from the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. But the drivers' license list doesn't automatically update when someone becomes a citizen."
The state whittled that list to more than 2,600 voters and forwarded those names to counties. A Times/Herald analysis of the list found it was dominated by Democrats, independents and Hispanics. The largest number were from Miami-Dade, home to the state's highest foreign-born population.Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar "said the state was engaging in "voter suppression" and using a "back-door poll tax" by not sending a prestamped envelope to voters to mail back their proof of citizenship."
In Miami-Dade, 359 voters have provided proof that they are citizens. The county determined on its own that an additional 26 were citizens, while 10 others either admitted they were ineligible or requested to be removed.
Voters have 30 days from the receipt of the letter to provide documentation of citizenship or they will be removed from the rolls.
Any effort to remove names from Broward's voting rolls draws particular scrutiny because it is the most Democratic county in the state. It has more than 500,000 registered Democrats and could play a pivotal role in the outcome of a close presidential or U.S. Senate contest in November.
[Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton] and Hastings wrote a letter to Scott Tuesday questioning the timing of the voter roll drive just three months before the primary."Also complaining to Scott was Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson."
"Providing a list of names of questionable validity — created with absolutely no oversight — to county supervisors and asking that they purge their rolls will create chaotic results and further undermine Floridians' confidence in the integrity of our elections," stated the letter also signed by Florida Democratic Rep.'s Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson, Corrine Brown and Kathy Castor. They asked Scott to "immediately suspend the purge of voter registration lists" in order to "ensure not one Floridian finds his or her legitimate voting rights callously stripped away."
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, defended the state's actions. "It's very important we make sure ineligible voters can't cast a ballot," he said in an email to the Herald on Tuesday.
He said the state continues to identify ineligible voters, saying the state Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has agreed to update information using a federal database that the elections division couldn't access directly.
"We won't be sending any new names to supervisors until the information we have is updated, because we always want to make sure we are using the best information available," Cate wrote. "I don't have a timetable on when the next list of names will be sent to supervisors, but there will be more names."
Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry slammed Nelson for practicing the "worst kind of politics.""Fla. Dems: Voter purge 'misguided’". See also "Just 5 non-citizens purged from Central Florida voter rolls" and "Members of Congress ask state to stop voter purge".
"Sen. Nelson not only asks our public servants to ignore the threat to electoral integrity, but he implies those who meet their legal obligation to ensure honest elections are being discriminatory," he said in a statement. "Nelson's distortions and willingness to pit people against each other based on race demonstrates the worst kind of politics."
"First Class" for ever'one
"Charter flights to increase at St. Pete airport during RNC".
Anybody but Scott
"May 23-25 statewide poll of registered voters by Florida Opinion Research, asking about a Charlie Crist vs. Rick Scott gubernatorial matchup in 2014. This assumes the former Florida governor challenges the incumbent Republican by running as a Democrat — and survives a Democratic primary:"
Crist: 48.1 percent"Charlie Crist beating Rick Scott in poll about 2014 race for governor".
Scott: 34.1 percent
Don't know/Refused: 12.8 percent
Other: 5.0 percent
The poll has a 3.46 percentage point margin of error.
While 60.3 percent of Republicans said they would support Scott, only 21.6 percent of independent voters backed him. Crist won 74.2 percent of Democrats and 52.2 percent of independents.
The former Republican governor-turned unaffiliated personal injury lawyer won support from more than 88 percent of African-Americans surveyed, while Scott and Crist were effectively tied among Hispanics.
Crist led among men, 45 percent to Scott's 39 percent, and among women, 51 percent to Scott's 30 percent. Crist also led among all age groups.
GOPers in a dither
"U.S. and Cuban scientists work to save turtles and sharks".
"Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll on Tuesday heard arguments on the Legislature's attempt to order the outsourcing of health care services in the state's prison system in the state budget. He said he intends to rule by next week. Lawyers for the state said Carroll should allow the Department of Corrections to issue the contracts even if he finds the budget language unconstitutional." "Ruling could be imminent on prison health care privatization".
"State Sen. Gary Siplin has agreed to a $3,000 fine stemming from violations during his 2008 campaign, the News Service of Florida reported. Siplin is accused of leaving out information on campaign-finance reports and accepting an illegal contribution." "Siplin draws $3,000 fine".
The best Mack could do?
"U.S. Rep. Connie Mack announced co-chairs for his U.S. Senate campaign: Allan Bense; Jeb Bush Jr.; Charles Bronson; Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos; Bill McCollum; Miya Burt-Stewart; Stanley Tate; and Sen. John Thrasher." "Mack taps campaign co-chairs".
Frankel v. Jacobs
"With U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, decamping for a different district, the open Broward-Palm Beach county district he's leaving behind is vital to Democrats' hopes of taking control of the House."
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House ... wouldn't state, hint or signal who he favors in the primary between former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs."Party leader won't take sides in local primary".
"Consumer confidence in Florida jumps in May".
Randolph to seek party chair
"Rep. Scott Randolph, an Orlando Democrat who has been an outspoken partisan in his six years in the Legislature, won't seek re-election, he said Tuesday. He said he's leaving the House because his redesigned District 47 is composed mostly of people he has not previously represented. He endorsed fellow Democrat Linda Stewart as his successor." "Randolph is leaving House". See also "Democrat Rep. Randolph announces bid for party chair; rivals say they're focused on 2012".
"Battle royal among East Hillsborough Republicans"
"A battle royal is shaping up among East Hillsborough Republicans as state Rep. Rachel Burgin, and possibly Rep. Rich Glorioso, will challenge former state Senate President Tom Lee for the area's state Senate seat. Some insiders view Lee, probably the biggest name in East Hillsborough GOP circles, as the man to beat in the race, which is likely to be decided by the Republican primary. But both Burgin and Glorioso have substantial support bases and can't be dismissed." "Burgin, possibly others to run against Lee for state Senate".