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January 23, 2017

Nelson to vote against top Trump nominees




Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday he would vote against confirming President Donald Trump's picks to head the CIA, the State Department and the Justice Department.

Fellow Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut last week had blocked a scheduled Senate vote Friday on Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, as CIA director.

Wyden, Leahy and Blumenthal said they wanted more time to vet and debate Pompeo's nomination. The Senate voted to confirm his nomination late Monday, with Nelson opposing him and Sen. Marco Rubio supporting.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday voted 11-10, mostly along party lines, to recommend the confirmation of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

Rubio, a Miami Republican who sits on the committee, voted for Tillerson after having raised concerns about the former ExxonMobil chairman's dealings in Russia and record on human rights.

"Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy," Rubio said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had been expected to vote Tuesday on Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination as attorney general, but Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sought and was granted a one-week delay on the vote.

Nelson, an Orlando Democrat, said he would vote for Trump's nominations of Palm Beach billionaire Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary and of Elaine Chao to head the Transportation Department.

Photo credit: Alan Diaz, Associated Press






Woman accused of smearing bananas on cars at Trump's Mar-A-Lago


From the Associated Press:

A woman is being charged with sneaking onto President Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club shortly before his inauguration and smearing bananas on cars.

Palm Beach, Florida, police say in a report released Monday that 48-year-old Kelly Weidman also typed a profanity about Trump on a Mar-a-Lago computer and moved outside some ballroom balloons a few hours before Trump was sworn-in Friday.

She was confronted by security guards, who called police. She allegedly told officers she wanted to be arrested because no one was paying attention to her claim of being cyber attacked. She was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and released.

Because Trump wasn't at the ritzy club, the Secret Service wasn't involved.

No one answered a phone number listed for Weidman on Monday and court records didn't list an attorney.

(Photo of Trump at a March press conference at Mar-A-Lago.)

Nelson: Trump freeze could hurt hurricane response



Sen. Bill Nelson expressed concern Monday that President Donald Trump's federal hiring freeze will harm the government's hurricane preparedness and response.

Nelson spoke out shortly after Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office halting federal agencies except the Pentagon from hiring new employees.

"The National Weather Service's around-the-clock forecasts save lives in Florida and around the nation," Nelson said. "Failure to fill vital vacancies within the agency means those hands won't be around when the monster storm hits. Not only would that be irresponsible, but it could put people's lives at risk."

Nelson, senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, questioned Trump's nominee to head the Commerce Department, Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, about hurricane readiness last week at a panel hearing.

In written follow-up answers to Nelson's advance questions before the hearing, Ross, billionaire head of the W.L. Ross & Co. private-equity company, promised to move quickly to fill National Weather Service vacancies that existed before Trump's hiring freeze.

"Timely and accurate weather information is crucial to protect both lives and property, and is also essential to the smooth functioning of numerous areas of commerce, including aviation, shipping, fishing and farming, to name just a few," Ross said.

"Proper staffing of the NWS is therefore important and, if confirmed, I intend to review the current efforts and see how they can be improved," he said.

The Senate Commerce Committee was expected to vote on Ross's nomination Tuesday, with the panel believed likely to recommend his confirmation to the full Senate.

Trump's campaign "Contract with the American Voter" had excluded "the military, public safety and public health" from his promised hiring freeze, but in signing the order he cited only the Pentagon as being exempt.

Trump's freeze began more than four months before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Photo credit: Chuck Fadely, Miami Herald





Donald Trump's son has taken over Trump hotel business

Doral trump pix al diaz 2015

@amysherman1 @nicknehemas

President Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump has taken over as president of the family hotel business, as liberal watchdogs raise questions about payments from foreign governments to Trump hotels.

A document filed Monday with the Florida Secretary of State shows that Eric Trump is now president of Trump International Hotels Management. A previous document for the corporation, filed in March, listed Donald Trump as president.

But it appears the president remains the owner of the company that runs his global empire of hotels.

Among those properties are a golf course and resort in Doral and a recently opened hotel in Washington D.C., as well as locations in New York, Canada, Panama and Scotland, according to the company’s website.

Keep reading here.

Dana Young proposes 'tightly drafted' bill to ban fracking in Florida

Dana YoungA Republican state senator who faced a competitive election in which opponents accused her of being pro-fracking has filed legislation to ban the controversial practice in Florida.

Sen. Dana Young of Tampa, the former House Republican leader elected to the Senate in November, wants the state to ban "advanced well stimulation treatment," specifically hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing which use high pressure techniques to inject water into rock formations to extract oil and gas.

Young, who practices environmental and land use law, last year voted for a House bill to regulate and authorize the technique in Florida beginning in 2017 after a study. She told the Herald/Times the proposal this year was not so much a change of heart as an opportunity to better understand what voters want and expect in Florida. 

"I'm absolutely in favor of energy independence and in favor of harnessing our natural resources safely but Florida is unique,'' she said Monday. "I believe, and it is the belief of most Floridians, that our fragile limestone geology and fragile environment as a whole is incompatible with fracking of any kind. So it's a balancing act."

During her campaign, the left-leaning advocacy Florida Strong accused Young of benefiting from the proceeds of her husband's investment firm, which has had stakes in companies that profit from the oil industry. Young dismissed the claims as distortions of her record.

Under the bill proposed last year, the state would impose a two-year moratorium on fracking while the Department of Environmental Protection would study the impact of hydraulic fracturing and similar technologies on Florida and propose rules to regulate it. The rules would have had to come back to the Legislature for ratification.

While proponents of the measure, like Young, focused on the two-year ban as the key feature of the bill, environmentalists focused on the parts that prohibited local governments from imposing their own bans or regulations, shielded from public disclosure the specific list of chemicals used in the process and ultimately opened the door to fracking.

Environmentalists cited the state’s fragile water table, the latent impact the bill could have on public health, and urged lawmakers to pass a bill proposed by Democrats to ban fracking instead. The bill didn't get a hearing in either of the Republican-led chambers.

Young, who faced Democrat Bob Buesing and no-party candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove during the election, said her views changed "as the fracking issue became front and center" in the campaign.
"I learned more and it became an important issue, not only for my region but for our whole state,'' she said. "I'm fulfilling my contract with the voters to get it passed."
Young acknowledged that the oil and gas industry does not support her bill but believes that her measure will get widespread support from legislators and environmentalists. A companion measure in the state House is being co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Miller, R-Orlando, who also faced a competitive election in November, and House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa.
"It's very, very tightly drafted to not impact traditional oil and gas extraction processes,'' Young said. "Some people may want to do away with that but this legislation is not designed to adversely impact the traditional oil and gas operations in our state." 
Photo credit Tampa Bay Times: Dana Young at a press conference before her election. She said opponents distorted her position on fracking in Florida. 

Trujillo: Florida's water wars legals bills 'a runaway train.' Did they force Steverson out?

Jon SteversonFlorida's top environmental regulator abruptly resigned Friday, two days after House budget officials expressed disapproval of his management of a legal contract that had ballooned by more than $54.4 million in the last two years over a water fight with Georgia.

Jon Steverson, who has led the Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Rick Scott for the last two years, will step down effective Feb. 3 and go to work for Foley Lardner, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

Foley Lardner is one of the four outside law firms hired by the state to handle its 16-year lawsuit against Georgia over water rights to the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River Basin. Florida sued Georgia in 2013 claiming the state’s excessive use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers was endangering Florida’s oyster industry and harming the economy of North Florida.

Since 2001, the state has been billed $97.8 million on the water wars, according to an analysis by the House Appropriations Committee, and has spent $71.9 million to date.

Nearly $40 million of it was spent in the last two years after Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and the court appointed a special master to resolve the dispute. Story here. 

Facing rare House impeachment probe, judge abruptly resigns

Duval Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey III, the subject of an investigation over allegations that he made sexist and racially insensitive comments from the bench, abruptly resigned his Jacksonville-area judgeship Monday on the eve of the start of a highly unusual impeachment investigation by the Legislature.

Hulsey, 66, was already the focus of a probe by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for having allegedly called a female staff attorney a "bitch" and for having said blacks should "go back to Africa." He also was accused of using demeaning language toward women lawyers on his staff, comparing them to "cheerleaders who talk during the national anthem." Hulsey has disputed the allegations in filings with the Florida Supreme Court.

The JQC's notice of formal charges was filed with the court last July, but Hulsey narrowly won re-election to a six-year term even after the allegations received wide media attention in Jacksonville. The chief judge in the Jacksonville-area circuit is Mark Mahon, a former Republican member of the Florida House.

The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee, which meets Tuesday in Tallahassee, had an unexplained item on its agenda entitled "actionable items: report on preliminary findings." A House investigator was to have presented a report on Hulsey's case and the panel's chairman, Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, was expected to seek a committee vote to subpoena a series of witnesses.

Hulsey short-circuited the Legislature's action by resigning.

"He resigned under the threat of the investigation," House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, said Monday. The Florida Times-Union reports that uncertainty over Hulsey's status as a judge has affected the court system's case backlog. Mahon reassigned Hulsey to probate cases after the case broke last summer.

Hulsey's resignation letter, sent Monday to Gov. Rick Scott by email and hand delivery, said: "I hereby tender my resignation as a judge of the Circuit Court of the State of Florida, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Group 25, effective this 23rd day of January, 2017 at 10:15 a.m." He added: "It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the state of Florida."

It has been nearly 40 years since the Florida Legislature impeached a judge for improper behavior. The last judge to be removed from the bench by the Legislature was Sam Smith, a circuit judge in Lake City, who was tossed in 1978 following his conviction in a marijuana conspiracy case in North Florida.


Potential 2018 governor candidate already tops $7M raised in political committee


The Republican many expect to run for governor started 2017 off with a bang financially.

At the start of January, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam collected a $250,000 donation check from Florida Power and Light - the largest single donation Putnam has received yet for a political committee he runs called Florida Grown PC.

That donation also helped Putnam top $7 million raised since he created Florida Grown in 2015. He’s spent just over $2 million out of that fund, but still holds nearly $5 million in the account.

Florida Power and Light now has given a total of $587,000 to Putnam’s account since the start 2015. That makes the utility company the largest single donor to Florida Grown, narrowly edging out the Voice of Florida Business, a political committee run by Associated Industries of Florida, which gave $500,000. Another fund controlled by AIF gave $425,000 to Putnam’s committee.

FPL is also a major donor to AIF’s funds. FPL has given more than $2.6 million combined to the Voice of Florida Business and AIF since 2014.

Putnam has not declared for governor, but speculation that he will was everywhere during the Republican Party of Florida’s Annual Meetings last weekend. RPOF chairman Blaise Ingoglia went so far to tell GOP activists that if Putnam and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran both run for governor in 2018, he would remain neutral even though he works with Corcoran in the Florida House.

Here are Florida Grown PC’s Top 10 Donors

1. $587,000 -  Florida Power & Light
2. $500,000 - Voice of Florida Business
3. $425,000 - Associated Industries of Florida
4. $400,000 - Florida Jobs PAC
5. $235,398 - Disney Worldwide Services
6. $210,000 - U.S. Sugar Corporation
7. $160,000 - Publix Supermarkets
8. $160,000 - Florida Retail Federation
9. $125,000 - FCCI Services Inc
10. $110,000 - Duke Energy

Rubio's a yes on Tillerson, despite grilling him on Russia

  Trump Secretary of State Rubio


WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will back Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state Monday, despite “reservations” exposed in the Florida Republican’s pointed, high-profile questioning of the Cabinet nominee two weeks ago.

“Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy,” Rubio wrote on Facebook. “Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate.”


Rubio made the announcement ahead of Monday afternoon’s vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ensuring that Tillerson will clear the committee without the political blemish of having a Republican oppose him. Tillerson’s two other potential detractors on the committee, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, both said Sunday they’d support him.

Rubio used the public Tillerson hearing last Monday to try to corner the former Exxon Mobil chief executive on Russia. Tillerson refused to label Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal.” (“I would not use that term,” Tillerson said.)

Their feisty exchange, which also touched on human-rights issues in countries like Cuba and China, was nationally televised and gave Rubio, a master of seizing the public-relations moment, the biggest Washington press coverage he’s had in months. He was reportedly courted by top Trump administration honchos and GOP donors afterward, and spent a week telling reporters he was reviewing Tillerson’s answers to questions Rubio posed in writing before making up his mind.

By Trump’s inauguration Friday, few Washington politicians expected Rubio to break with the new president, given Rubio would receive little political upside, other than to rally support from other Republican national-security hawks worried about Putin’s influence.

More here.

Photo credit: Steve Helber, Associated Press

Decision day for Rubio on Tillerson

via @learyreports

It’s decision day for Sen. Marco Rubio.

After high-profile showdown with Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rubio will have vote for or against him when the Foreign Relations Committee meets this afternoon.

As of Sunday night, Rubio had not said how he will vote. Sunday morning, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who share Rubio’s hawkish outlook, announced they would support Tillerson, who is expected to get confirmed.

How Rubio votes, however, could determine how easy that path is.

A committee vote against Tillerson would invite a backlash among Trump supporters, if not the president himself, but it could also solidify Rubio’s backing from Republicans who remain skeptical of Trump and his administration’s ties to Russia.

Rubio aggressively questioned Tillerson during hearings at one point asking, "Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?"

Tillerson replied, "I would not use that term."

Tillerson no doubt has worked behind the scenes to allay Rubio’s concerns, as he did with McCain and Graham.

“Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests," they said in a statement. "The views that Mr. Tillerson has expressed, both privately and publicly during the confirmation process, give us confidence that he will be a champion for a strong and engaged role for America in the world.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

January 21, 2017

Florida woman at D.C. anti-Trump march: 'I feel like my innocence was taken away' on Election Day

Trump Inaurgration Protests

WASHINGTON -- In what they proclaimed to be an act of rekindled political resistance, hundreds of thousands of women — and men, and children, but mostly women — took over the pulsating streets of the nation’s capital Saturday to protest Donald Trump less than 24 hours after he assumed the presidency.

The demonstrators overwhelmed downtown Washington from just after dawn into the evening, in a show of force against a chief executive they see as threatening to the liberal views espoused by a popular majority that nevertheless lost the electoral vote. Massive marches to oppose Trump also took place in Miami, New York City, Chicago, Boston and other big U.S. cities, and other global capitals, including London, Paris, Sydney, Ottawa and Nairobi.

“I feel like my innocence was taken away the day he was elected. I had blinders on,” said Tracy Sassi, a 49-year-old from Fort Lauderdale who flew into Washington with her 15-year-old stepdaughter, Sofia Vera, who said the day had “kind of restored my faith in humanity.”

So many more protesters spilled into Washington — an estimated half-million, about double what had been expected — that organizers scrapped their original route from a rally at the U.S. Capitol to the White House. For a brief, confusing period, it appeared no march would take place because the throngs were so big and unwieldy. But the crush of people moved as if with a mind of its own, walking down off-route streets even before the Capitol rally concluded.

“This is the upside of the downside,” feminist icon Gloria Steinem, 82, said from stage early on in the rally. “This is an outpouring of democracy like I’ve never seen in my very long life.”

The same streets that a day earlier had seen delighted Trump supporters make their way to the National Mall were now crammed by his most fervent opponents — a two-day display, if ever there was one, of the messy passions of democracy.

More here.

Photo credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Women's March on Miami overflows Bayfront Park venue

0358 Women's March Trump Protest 012117
via @harrisalexc @jordanglevin @ReneMiamiHerald

An estimated 10,000 descended into the Bayfront Park Amphitheater Saturday for the Women’s Rally of South Florida before Miami-Dade fire marshals closed off the entrance at 2 p.m. due to overwhelming crowds.

The crowd started marching west on Northeast Second Street shortly before 3 p.m.

The march was one of hundreds around the globe to coincide with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, which drew roughly half a million people on the day after President Trump’s inauguration to mount a full-throated protest against Trump and Republican Congressional leaders on women’s rights. Thousands of women from South Florida trekked to the nation’s capital to take part in the march.

The Miami rally focused on an array of causes built around human rights — women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights and environmental rights. Keeping access to healthcare after Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has provided medical insurance to 20 million Americans, also drew many to the march.

“We really felt it was important for the rest of the country — and people around the world — to stand in solidarity with the people who can’t make it to D.C.,” Stephanie Myers, 42, one of the organizers of the South Florida rally, had told The Herald. “The rhetoric of this cycle was just so divisive.”

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Trump's inauguration prompts Miami backers to break out champagne

President1 trump lnew cmg
via @harrisalexc

A thousand miles from where Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States Friday afternoon, Miamians kept the party going.

From Cuban restaurants on Coral Way to penthouse apartments in Miami Beach to backyards in Kendall, South Floridians broke out the champagne and “Make America Great Again” cakes to honor the New York real estate magnate’s election.

A bout of pneumonia prevented Louise Sunshine, CEO of the real estate development company Sunshine Select Worldwide, from making it to Washington, D.C., so she watched with close friends at home.

As news cameras panned across the crowd shivering and sniffling in the below-50 degree weather, warm sunlight poured into Sunshine’s penthouse apartment. A crowd of bankers, real estate developers and art dealers — Sunshine called them “doers” — clustered around the couch, eyes glued to CNN’s coverage of the inauguration.

Sunshine pointed out various Trump family members onscreen: “Melania looks like Jackie Kennedy; Ivanka Trump walks on water; Donald is relentless.”

When Trump spoke the last word of the oath, everyone in the room raised a glass.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sunshine said. “It’s like my whole life playing out in front of me.”

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff

January 20, 2017

Fact-checking Donald Trump's claim about shrinking Navy



President Donald Trump has vowed to rebuild the U.S. military, which he said during his inauguration speech represented a "sad depletion."

A page on foreign policy on the newly revamped Trump White House websiteincludes some statistics about a shrinking military:

"Our Navy has shrunk from more than 500 ships in 1991 to 275 in 2016. Our Air Force is roughly one-third smaller than in 1991. President Trump is committed to reversing this trend, because he knows that our military dominance must be unquestioned."

The size of the Navy’s fleet has been a familiar talking point at least during the past two presidential campaigns.

But many of the past claims we have fact-checked compared the fleet to 1917, or 100 years ago, when technology was considerably different.

Trump’s claim is a more reasonable comparison. We found that his numbers are correct, and that there are valid concerns about the size of the Navy. The Obama administration supported an increase in the number of ships.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Broward Sheriff's Office estimates cost of response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

FLL Airportswat DS


The Broward Sheriff's Office estimates that it has spent about $370,000 in response to the Jan. 6th mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

That includes the overtime costs for responding to the shooting that day and the increase in security at the airport since the shooting that left five people dead.

BSO has spent $261,082 on overtime between Jan. 6-13 and $100,000 on post-event security enhancements Jan. 14-25. The other expenses include $5,107 for fire/rescue overtime and $3,774 for meals. That brings the total tab to $369,963.

According to a BSO document, 509 employees responded to the airport shooting on Jan. 6th.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said he plans to seek more money from the county to cover security at the airport. However, no long-term security decisions are expected until the county writes an after-action plan that could take several weeks, if not months.

BSO is seeking reimbursement from the state and federal government.


Galvano: Fontainebleau 'didn't pick our firm to influence me'

Bill GalvanoThe powerful lawmaker who is heading the Senate's gambling negotiations confirmed he has done legal work for the owners of the Fountainbleau Resort, a real estate firm seeking to bring slot machines to Miami Beach.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told the Herald/Times that Turnberry Associates, the owners of Aventura Mall and the Fontainebleau "are a former client." He said his law firm, Grimes Goebel Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano, did land use law for the company four years ago and he personally worked with Turnberry on a commercial transaction three years ago. The story was first reported by the Associated Press on Thursday.

"It's not a continuing relationship right now and I don't even see it as an issue,'' Galvano said Friday. Galvano is a partner in the firm, which has offices in Bradenton and Miami. He reported $451,000 in income and profit sharing from the firm last year. 

Last week, Galvano filed a massive Senate bill that will expand gaming in Florida, allow for two new slots licenses to bidders in Miami Beach and Broward County, and open the door to slots licenses at race tracks around the state. The bill would regulate online fantasy sports and allow the state to buy out active gaming permits in exchange for the new slots licenses. Galvano said the proposal is intended to open the debate with the Seminole Tribe which is negotiating a renewal of its billion dollar compact with the state.

Galvano is also serving as the Senate's key negotiator with the Tribe on the compact, a role he also served in 2010 when he was the House's key negotiator on the first compact that is now in force.

At that time, Turnberry Associates was not a client, Galvano told the Herald/Times, but subsequently became a client.

"I do not believe they picked our firm to influence me,'' Galvano said. "I know what we do and the work that we do around the state is not unusual. I have several Miami clients, big clients too." He said the one of his "big clients" introduced him to the owners of the Turnberry Associates. 

"I know we provide a service and it was not unusual for us to be working in that venue,'' he said.

Since 2013, Galvano's political committee, Innovate Florida, has received more than $342,000 from organizations that have a stake in the gaming bill, campaign finance records show. He received the most $205,000 from Disney Worldwide Services, which opposes any expansion of gambling but the second highest amount from a single entity -- $90,000 -- came from Fontainebleau Resorts.

The current gaming compact with the Tribe, as negotiated by Galvano, effectively serves to cap gaming expansion in Florida and makes it very difficult for companies like the Fontainebleau to obtain a slots license. It requires that any new slots licenses approved by the state would result in a loss of nearly $200 million in annual gaming revenues from the Seminole Tribe.

Under the bill Galvano proposed last week, any new slots licenses would have to receive approval from the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering based on certain criteria, and would not require legislative approval. The challenge for slots proponents like Fontainebleau Resorts, however, is getting approval for the slots expansion through both the House and Senate.

Galvano downplayed his role over any new licenses and said he is confident there will be "many potential applicants who have had an interest in Florida for a long time'' if new slots permits are approved.

"I want the competition,'' he said. "If we are going to have additional economic development out of new licenses, lets run up the numbers and see who will present the best deal. That will probably be best determined by the division, based on criteria, some of which is spelled out in the bill."

Since 2010 the Fontainebleau has donated nearly $2.3 million in contributions, including more than $800,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, the Associated Press reported.

Galvano said "it's very difficult being a lawyer-legislator and [this question] comes with the territory." He added that any assumption that his legal work was used to influence his legislative work "was trying to draw a much bigger conclusion than what was reality, but that's how it happens."

The lead lobbyist for Turnberry Associates, Michael Corcoran, is the brother of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Michael Corcoran. did not return a request for comment.

Trump vows to stop 'American carnage' in gritty inaugural address

@PatriciaMazzei and @NewsbySmiley

In his first, fiery words as the nation’s 45th president, Donald John Trump presented a nationalist vision of America, breaking with tradition to invoke his unapologetically raw campaign, rebuke the country’s principal political parties, and offer a populist ode to the “forgotten” people who, against all odds, elected him.

“Today, we’re not transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we’re transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the people. For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Trump told energized supporters gathered under damp skies along the National Mall.

“That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

Deploying unusually gritty rhetoric for an inaugural address, Trump, 70, portrayed a bleak nation in need of saving. He described “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

“This American carnage stops right here and right now,” said Trump, the only president never to have previously held public or military office.

To read the rest, click here.

Florida reacts to Donald Trump's inauguration


AP_DCDP148_TRUMP_INAUGURATIDonald Trump is now president of the United States.

Here is how Florida politicians reacted to his inauguration:

Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned for Trump and was on hand for the inauguration:

Scott also dropped a quote about Trump into his announcement Friday morning that Florida businesses created 237,000 jobs in 2016.

"Today, as we proudly welcome a new president who will make job creation a top priority across our nation, we stand ready to fight for another great year of economic growth in Florida," Scott said in the statement.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who lost to Trump in the Republican primary:

Republican Party of Florida Chariman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement: "The road to the White House was not an easy one, but regardless of where political loyalties lie, the peaceful transfer of power for this nation is a meaningful and historic day.  We are grateful to the millions of grassroots leaders and volunteers that worked arduously for this moment and for their unwavering passion of a government accountable to the people."

Continue reading "Florida reacts to Donald Trump's inauguration" »

Who wants to serve on the Constitution Revision Commission? Here's who has applied so far

Florida Constitution Florida MemoryToday is the deadline to apply to House Speaker Richard Corcoran to be a part of Florida's unique opportunity for a citizens panel to propose changes to the Florida Constitution, the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission.

The Senate set a deadline of Dec. 9 but today Senate spokesperson Katie Betta said the Senate has decided to continue accepting applications.   Download Senate MEMO re 2017 CRC Applications 2016 09 23 (1)The Supreme Court Dec. 31.

Gov. Rick Scott, who appoints 15 members and the chairman, also has decided to continue taking applications here. Applications for the Florida Supreme Court closed Dec. 31.

For the list of applications we have collected so far, scroll to the end of our story here.


The story of one Florida woman's decision to march in D.C.

The last time Martha Barnett took part in a political demonstration was more than 30 years ago, back when Florida was debating whether to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. But the 69-year-old Tallahassee lawyer is making the 12-and-a-half hour drive to the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington Saturday.

Calling herself shocked and offended by Donald Trump’s views, especially toward minorities and women, Barnett joined thousands Barnett_Martha_72of Floridians flocking to the nation’s capital this weekend to make their voices heard. “Trump needs to know we care, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re going to hold him accountable,” Barnett said.

During the campaign, Barnett said she was disgusted by Trump’s treatment of women, and said she has become increasingly alarmed by his incessant use of Twitter during the transition to demean others, such as Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a pioneering civil rights leader.

“I had hoped for more,” Barnett said. “I hoped he would rise to the office. He has to know that there are men and women who care deeply about some of these issues he has treated with disgust, disdain and downright disrespect ... I want more out of the president of the United States than that attitude. We care about the office. We care about him being successful.”

Barnett, a Democrat and a former American Bar Association president, was the first woman partner at the Holland & Knight law firm. She was an invited guest to both of Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and said she did not think of her activism in Washington as confrontational or negative. She said her decision to go to D.C. was inspired in part by one of her mentors, Chesterfield Smith, another former ABA president. “He always said, ‘No man is above the law.’ That’s why I’m going,” Barnett said.