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May 29, 2016

Rubio said sorry to Trump over 'small hands' remark

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio privately apologized to Donald Trump for talking about his small hands during a presidential debate earlier this year, the Florida senator said in a reflective television interview that aired Sunday.

"I said, you know, I'm sorry that I said that," Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper. "That's not who I am, and I shouldn't have done it. And I didn't say it in front of the cameras. I didn't want any political benefit."

In late February, leading up to the Super Tuesday election contests, then-candidate Rubio had mocked Trump's hands -- "You know what they say about men with small hands" -- which prompted Trump at a subsequent debate to memorably defend his size: "I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee."

Rubio, who is now backing Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, told Tapper the comment "embarrassed" his family, and he apologized to Trump at a later debate.

"It's not who I am," Rubio said. "You did it almost in a sense of, you know, nothing -- at this point--  nothing is working. I mean, this guy is out there every day mocking people, saying horrible things about people, but if you respond to him somehow you're hitting below the belt? And that was my sense of it at the time."

"I ended up hurting myself, not him."

Rubio said making fun of Trump didn't cost him the election but didn't help. The more pivotal moment, he said, came in a New Hampshire debate, when then-rival Chris Christie eviscerated Rubio for sounding like a programmed robot.

"It was a mistake," Rubio said of failing to adjust his reponse and take Christie on. Had he done so, "we would have had a better result in New Hampshire." Trump might have ended up the nominee regardless, but the post-New Hampshire race trajectory "would have been dramatically different."

Rubio also told Tapper he didn't realize when he took on Jeb Bush at an earlier debate that their exchange would be viewed as a smackdown of Bush.

"I didn't take any great pleasure in like, 'Oh, I really stuck it to him,'" Rubio said. "I didn't even think it was that big a deal during the debate. It was only after that I realized people had kind of built it up into this moment."

May 28, 2016

Marco Rubio holds fundraising call for Carlos Lopez-Cantera

@PatriciaMazzei

A nugget from our story Friday about the Republican Party wooing Marco Rubio to remain in the U.S. Senate is the latest and perhaps most salient sign that Rubio has no intention of seeking re-election: Rubio held a fundraising call for Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the friend he's hoping will replace him.

So why does the hullabaloo around Rubio continue?

Perhaps, as we note in the story: In a crowded GOP primary field where no candidate has broken out, Lopez-Cantera might benefit from building up Rubio in the eyes of party leaders ahead of a Rubio endorsement in his favor.

More here.

May 27, 2016

Congressional Black Caucus endorses Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is running against first-time candidate Tim Canova for a Broward/Miami-Dade seat.

From a press release:

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent and reliable leader and voice on issues of importance to African Americans and all Americans. As a Member of Congress, she has supported the Congressional Black Caucus’ agenda on issues such as voting rights, HBCU funding, fair sentencing guidelines, affordable housing, creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses, and lifting the people out of poverty and into the middle class to name a few. As leader of the Democratic National Committee, she has “walked the walk” with an unprecedented number of senior level African American appointments and policies that have provided historical opportunities for African American policy makers, operatives, activists and businesses. Under her leadership, both the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions have set diversity goals that meet and exceed levels of past minority participation. Her commitment to diversity is unwavering and the advances under her leadership are unquestioned."

It's not a surprise that Wasserman Schultz's colleagues in the House endorsed her -- she is the Democratic National Committee chair and has served in Congress since first winning her seat in 2004. But the endorsement gives her some good publicity during a week when there were news reports about whether some Democrats -- most notably Bernie Sanders who is backing Canova -- are hoping she is replaced as DNC chair.

But it seems unlikely Democrats would want to give that type of ammunition to Republicans this close to an election. Also in her favor: President Barack Obama won Florida both times while Wasserman Schultz was the chair, and he has endorsed her in her Congressional race. Plus Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Coconut Grove to fundraise for her in June. 

Canova announced earlier today that he was endorsed by the Democracy for America PAC, the group started by Howard Dean.

About 13 percent of the district's voting age population is black in Congressional District 23 which spans from Weston to northern Miami-Dade. South Florida members who are in the Congressional Black Caucus include Frederica Wilson and Alcee Hastings.

Feisty Senate candidate Carlos Beruff's journey from near-ruin to riches

Carlos Beruff was in ruins.

The tough-talking Republican U.S. Senate candidate boasts of his business success as a key selling point to voters. He turned a help-wanted ad into a home building business worth more than $150 million, his campaign touts.

But it's failure, he says, that ultimately put him in the position he is in today: a confident campaigner willing to put millions of his own money into his first-ever bid for political office.

His low point came in the early 1990s. After a decade of "pulling rabbits out of hats" to live another day in the land development business, Beruff had run out of magic.

"I almost went broke," said Beruff, one of five Republicans in the Senate race. "I didn't file bankruptcy, but I had some miserable times there for two or three years."

He was just 34 years old. But his fast ascent in the world of real estate was crumbling. A college drop-out, he was $20 million in debt and fending off more than a dozen subcontractors who were suing for more than $150,000 worth of unpaid bills. It wasn't just his business in shambles. After 14 years, he and his first wife divorced in 1996.

Steve Jonsson, a banker who had known Beruff for about 10 years, feared his client and friend was going under. But Jonsson said the fiery Beruff — though he had almost no leverage — passionately argued for more time to pay his debts. Jonsson said Beruff's confidence won him over.

"He said, 'I'm never going down this road again,'" Jonsson said.

His mistakes were clear, Beruff says. "It was youth and stupidity."

Full Story Here

Democrats plan Florida public meeting on party platform

@PatriciaMazzei

Ahead of July's presidential nominating convention, national Democrats plan to hold four public meetings across the country -- including one in Florida -- to discuss the party's platform.

"I want all Democrats to have their voices heard in this process," U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement. "We are the Party of substance, ideas and diversity. We expanded the platform process to provide greater opportunity for Democrats to express their views and we look forward to hearing different perspectives from across the nation."

The Florida gathering of the platform committee meeting will take place July 8 and 9 in Orlando. The other meetings will take place in June in Washington, Phoenix and St. Louis.

Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump hoped for real estate crash

The commercial seems like an example of the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for."

Democrat Hillary Clinton posted the ad, which we caught on Instagram, on May 24 slamming Republican Donald Trump for saying he would welcome a burst in the housing bubble affecting real estate prices a decade ago.

"In 2006, Donald Trump was hoping for a real estate crash," it says, showing a picture of Trump giving two thumbs up. The ad goes on to list consequences from the Great Recession, which peaked in 2008. It lists 9 million jobs lost and 5 million families who lost their homes.

"And the man who could be our next president was rooting for it to happen," the ad contends.

That's followed by audio, identified as being from 2006, of Trump saying, "I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy ... If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know, you could make a lot of money."

"If Donald wins," the ad concludes, "you lose." The Instagram description accompanying the video says, "Millions of Americans lost jobs and homes in the '08 crash. A man who hoped for it has no business being president."

We wondered if there was more to the story.

Keep reading C. Eugene Emery's fact-check here from PolitiFact. There is of course a Florida angle too related to Trump and the real estate crash. Investors lost millions in the Trump International Hotel & Tower project in Fort Lauderdale when the project collapsed. Here is a refresher from the Miami Herald about what Trump said about those who lost money.

 

Even if Marco Rubio reconsiders Senate race, Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox staying in GOP primary

BeruffMiami
@JeremySWallace

At least two Republican U.S. Senate candidates would stay in the race and challenge Sen. Marco Rubio if he changes his mind and decides to seek re-election.

Carlos Beruff, a Bradenton developer, and Todd Wilcox, a defense contractor from Orlando, said Friday that they intend to stay in the race.

"Carlos Beruff is staying in this race no matter what," campaign spokesman Chris Hartline said when asked about Rubio getting pressure to reconsider.

"As a conservative I have no intention of leaving this race just because another career politician gets in," Wilcox said in a statement, "especially one who fought for amnesty for illegals and oversaw tax increases as a city commissioner."

A third, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, said he would stop his campaign if Rubio decides to run for re-election.

"I would withdraw from the Senate race and support Rubio for re-election," Jolly said in a text message.

Rubio has said he intends to return to the private sector, but he is under heavy pressure to run for re-election from Republicans worried about losing the seat. Rubio on Thursday acknowledged to reporters on Tuesday that people he respects are asking him to run for re-election. But Rubio he said his "very close friend" Carlos Lopez-Cantera is already in the contest.

"Look, if the circumstances were different, but they’re not," Rubio said. "This is the fact: Carlos is in the race. He’s a good friend, he’s a good candidate, he’ll be a great senator."

Hartline said talk of Rubio getting into the race is being generated by the same types of political insiders that once tried to talk Rubio out of the 2010 race for Senate.

"Marco Rubio made the right decision in 2010 when he refused to get pushed out of the race by the power brokers in Washington," he said.  "As usual, Washington Republicans think they can control the race, but the voters of Florida will decide who our nominee is, and we feel confident about where we are."

The final Senate candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, isn't yet declaring his plans if Rubio decides to enter the race. 

"We are not concerned with D.C. chatter," said Brad Herold, DeSantis' campaign manager. "We're focused on continuing to run the strongest campaign of any candidate in Florida."

Times staff writers Michael Auslen and Alex Leary contributed to this post.

 

In this age of political disruption, is the party as we know it over?

Political parties KRT Tim GoheenThis summer may be remembered not only for a blue moon and the welcome end to a bitter presidential primary, it may also mark the time America’s century-old political parties went on life support.

At the top of the ticket, both the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida have anointed presidential frontrunners who are seen by most voters more negatively than positively. Corporate donors, the bread and butter of the party diet, are circumventing the parties in large numbers by contributing directly to candidates’ committees.

 

In Florida, the often-reliable bellwether for the nation, party membership is steadily eroding as the majority of new voters don’t register with any party and fewer new voters are registering than have in previous presidential years.

Then there are the casualties.

Florida Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, has beentargeted for defeat from within by Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old Vermont senator who is the overwhelming favorite of the youth vote. Jeb Bush, Florida GOP’s favorite son, is so disgusted by Donald Trump and his message he has announced he won’t vote for his party’s nominee. And GOP candidates in Hispanic-rich South Florida are keeping their distance from the frontrunner.

With a battleground this bloodied, can political parties be saved?

It’s an uncomfortable question that could have serious implications for future statewide candidates like Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Congresswoman Gwen Graham. Each hopes to run for governor in 2018 relying on a durable, traditional, governing coalition.

But 2016 laid waste to durable traditions as Florida and the nation showed that its allegiance to political parties was over.

“I think we’ve got 20 more years of disruption ahead of us,” predicts Steve Schale, the Democratic consultant to who steered Obama’s victory in Florida in 2008. “You’ve got a generation of people who are growing up in a time when traditional organizations are not vital to the world. We have to figure out what do we look like in the next 20 years, and do we even exist?” 

The numbers tell just part of the story. Of the 2.1 million new registered voters in Florida since 2012, 28 percent have registered Republican, 31 percent Democrat and 42 percent registered anything else, according to data analyzed by Associated Industries of Florida.

David Johnson, former executive director of the Republican Party who worked on Bush’s Right to Rise political committee this election cycle, is among those who say his party has reached an existential crisis.

“The Republican Party is torn apart,” he said, and how it handles Trump’s divisive campaign will be the crucial test. “There is no question in my mind there is a path toward a viable third or fourth party in the future.” More here

Illustration: Tim Goheen, KRT

 

Broward Democrats hire deputy political director

The Broward Democratic Party hired David Metellus to serve as deputy political director and get out the vote coordinator.

Metellus has previously worked for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- who is in a primary battle against Tim Canova -- and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch. Metellus is a native of Coconut Creek.

Particularly in presidential years the campaigns have their own turnout operations and don't rely on county party groups. But the county's Democrats have a poor record of turning out in non-presidential cycles -- see Republican Gov. Rick Scott's victories in 2010 and 2014 -- and in primaries.

The Florida Democratic Party also has 12 field staff working out of the county party's headquarters in Plantation and an office in Pompano Beach. 

Key GOP super PAC says it'd back Marco Rubio re-election

via @learyreports

Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to Mitch McConnell, says it would back Marco Rubio if he decided to run for re-election — the latest sign in a coordinated effort to woo the Florida Republican.

“Florida is a huge financial commitment. We felt confident about betting on Rubio back in 2010 and would do it again in a heartbeat, but right now it's hard to imagine making that same investment without him as our candidate,”  Steven Law of SLF said in a statement Friday.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Enterprise Florida's Johnson hired second Port Miami staffer; Wilkins could earn $100K for EFI reorg plan

Bill Johnson, the Enterprise Florida CEO who resigned in March, hired a second former PortMiami colleague for a high-paying job at the state's now-weakened public-private job creation partnership.

Contract details obtained by the Times/Herald show that Johnson hired Diana Gonzalez as a senior vice president at EFI at a salary of $60,000 for five months of work that ended in August of last year. Her company, DMG Consulting, was hired "to aid incoming CEO (Johnson) with transition," documents show. 

Johnson also hired former port spokeswoman Paula Musto for $158,000 to be his speechwriter. Musto's arrangement was first reported by the Naples Daily News.

Gov. Rick Scott announced on March 28 that Johnson was resigning, but Johnson has provided no letter of resignation -- a telltale sign that Scott demanded Johnson leave. Scott also called for an audit of EFI's expenses, including its travel and payroll, and he announced that former state child welfare secretary David Wilkins would conduct an independent review of Enterprise Florida's operations.

What Scott didn't say in March is that Wilkins' company, DTW Strategies, would be paid up to $100,000 to conduct that review. Documents show that Wilkins' company has been paid about $24,000 so far, at a billable rate of $150 an hour.

Johnson, 61, was Scott's hand-picked choice to run EFI, the agency that is most closely linked to the governor's job-creating agenda. But Johnson soon wore out his welcome with legislators, and the Florida House, principally Rep. Richard Corcoran, the speaker-designate, largely sealed Enterprise Florida's fate by rejecting Scott's call for a $250 million incentive fund in the 2016 session.

During his year at EFI, Johnson also hired consultant Peter Harris for $89,000 for a one-year contract as director of minority business at the agency.

 

Having foregone Senate run, Jeff Atwater wants Marco Rubio to run again

via @adamsmithtimes

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a Republican who may well have cleared the field of any primary challenger had he run for U.S. Senate, has met with every leading Republican running and says he admires all of them. That said, he really wants Marco Rubio to  "pull aside some quiet time and contemplate" running for another term.

"He is the best person to serve in the United States Senate, and he would be the best candidate to prevail," said Atwater.

Rubio has said he intends to return to the private sector, but he is under heavy pressure to run for reelection from Republicans worried about losing the seat.

The CFO has known Rubio for 16 years, served with him in the Florida House, and said Rubio was "absolutely genuine" when he announced he would not seek another term so he could give all he had to the presidential campaign. In that same genuine spirit, Atwater said, Rubio should consider the many conservative leaders urging him to run. The talk that Rubio did not like serving in the senate doesn't ring true, Atwater said.

"Number one, I believe he is the man who would be the most effective senator.. And two I deeply wish us to maintain this  seat, and I believe there is no better candidate  to ensure that than Marco Rubio," Atwater told Buzz Friday morning. "No one would see it as anything other than Marco being genuine from the start. He would be answering our call."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Is Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera unique for skipping security detail?

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera rolls without a security detail, a fact he likes to bring up as he campaigns to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. It’s an example of penny-pinching that he uses to set himself apart from the field of five Republicans vying for Rubio’s seat, as well as some predecessors who drew scrutiny over transportation spending.

"I've actually cut the budget of the office by more than half, reduced the staff," he said in an interview with Fox 13’s Money, Power, Politics show in Tampa which ran on air April 30. "I'm also the only lieutenant governor to not ever take a security detail."

Lopez-Cantera had dropped this tidbit at a speech earlier that month with theHillsborough County GOP, explaining, "It’s a waste of your money, and I’m protected by the Second Amendment."

With Lopez-Cantera playing up this factoid as an accomplishment, we wanted to know if he was really the first No. 2 guy to say "nah, I’ve got this," to taxpayer-paid protection.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Ana Rivas Logan will run for state Senate, challenging Dwight Bullard

Rivas logan@ByKristenMClark

Ana Rivas Logan is in.

After weeks of mulling a bid for the Florida Senate, the former state lawmaker and Miami-Dade School Board member plans to file her candidacy next week for the District 40 seat, Democratic sources close to Rivas Logan confirmed to the Herald/Times.

An announcement is planned around June 1.

Rivas Logan's entrance into the state Senate race means she will challenge current state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Culter Bay, in the Aug. 30 party primary.

Rivas Logan said earlier this month that she had reservations about running against Bullard, but said "I do not want Frank Artiles to win either."

Artiles, a Republican state representative from Miami, is also running for the District 40 seat. He's campaigning hard and has racked up significant fundraising this spring to unseat Bullard.

Bullard told the Herald/Times today that he hopes Rivas Logan doesn't run. He said he plans to meet with her before the end of the month and "hopefully, we can come to an understanding."

"Anyone else is entitled to throw her hat in the race, but I just think to be fully transparent: To leave a well-funded Republican with nothing to do while two Democrats go toe-to-toe all summer puts undue pressure on a Democratic establishment that’s already strained," Bullard said, referencing other contentious state Senate races in Miami-Dade County that the party hopes to win.

"It weakens the field when you have to have a primary among Democrats, especially when one is a sitting elected official," Bullard added.

In April, Bullard raised just $2,600, compared to the $39,200 Artiles raised. Heading in to May, Artiles had $238,000 in cash on hand, while Bullard had less than $22,000.

While Rivas Logan and others have expressed concerns about Bullard's lack of fundraising, he said it's not going to be an issue. June is normally when state legislative campaigns ramp up, Bullard said, because in a normal year, the legislative session would have just ended in mid-May.

Bullard also pointed to endorsements he's already gotten from major unions, political advocacy groups and elected officials.

District 40 includes parts of central Miami-Dade County. It's heavily Hispanic and favors a Democrat. Almost 55 percent of the district voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

Rivas Logan served on the Miami-Dade School Board from 2004 to 2010. She was then elected to the Florida House in 2010 but lost her re-election race in 2012, after redistricting drew her into the same district as Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

photo credit: Twitter

Here's Ron DeSantis' B-roll footage for super PAC ads

@MichaelAuslen

There's a seven-minute video on U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis' campaign YouTube page called "Ron on the Campaign Trail."

Here's DeSantis signing an autograph. Here he is talking in slow-motion at an event with soft blue lighting. Now, he and his wife are walking along the beach.

But, as shrewd YouTube user Ryan Quintero noted last week: "No volume!"

It's common for campaigns to post this "B-roll" video footage. (We wrote about some from U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy two months back.)

Campaigns aren't allowed to coordinate with super PACs and other outside groups that support them, so the only way to ensure they have video of the candidate is via public websites like YouTube.

And for DeSantis, who has been backed by major super PACs like Club for Growth and a $1.2 million fund called Fighting for Florida that is dedicated to electing him as senator, those outside ads could prove useful.

He's running against U.S. Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, developer Carlos Beruff and defense contractor Todd Wilcox in the Republican primary to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. The Democratic candidates are Murphy, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and attorney Pam Keith.

Tim Canova endorsed by Democracy for America PAC

Tim Canova has been endorsed by Democracy for America, the progressive PAC founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

The PAC has also endorsed Bernie Sanders who is backing Canova in his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Broward/Miami-Dade district.

Canova got the endorsement "because he has spent his life challenging the power of Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the systemic political corruption that keeps them profitable at the expense of everyone else," said Jim Dean, chaor of the PAC. "From her vote in support of fast track authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership to her unabashed protection of a payday lending industry that makes billions off the back struggling working families, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has aligned herself with the wealthy interests who are making income inequality worse in our country."

Democracy for America has raised $36.6 million to help elect 843 progressive candidates nationwide since 2004, according to a press release from the PAC. This cycle in Florida, the PAC also endorsed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson who is running for U.S. Senate and Susannah Randolph who is running for Congress.

Canova's fundraising has picked up steam since Sanders announced on CNN last weekend that he supports Canova who has raised more than $1.5 million in his first bid for office. His fundraising prowess has helped land him interviews with national outlets including MSNBC and Fox News, increasing his exposure.

Wasserman Schultz, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, raised $1.8 million through March. Her campaign has not announced how much she has raised since that date. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said a fundraiser he hosted in May raised $50,000 for her and Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for her in June at the Coconut Grove home of Stephen Bittel.  

 

 

Carlos Lopez-Cantera responds to Marco Rubio re-election chatter

@PatriciaMazzei

All the talk about Republicans nudging Marco Rubio to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate has got to be getting into Carlos Lopez-Cantera's head -- right?

No, he told the Miami Herald outside a Miami-Dade Republican Party meeting Thursday night.

"Marco's already said that he's not running for re-election," he said. 

That's true. And Rubio has named Lopez-Cantera, Florida's lieutenant governor and his close friend, his preferred successor.

Yet when he was asked Thursday what he'd do if Lopez-Cantera weren't running, Rubio refused to answer, calling the scenario a "hypothetical." Donald Trump, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, later tweeted that Rubio should run.

Doesn't that bother Lopez-Cantera, who -- like his fellow Republicans in the crowded Senate race -- has struggled to break out of the pack?

"Not at all," he said. "Marco's been really great. Obviously, he's my friend, and he's been very generous with his time and his counsel and his support. He did an event for me a couple of weeks ago. No, it doesn't bother me. A lot of people clearly trust his judgment and like him, as I do."

 

May 26, 2016

Judge sides with prison whistleblower and orders a hearing

A Tallahassee judge has ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections violated the due process rights of an agency whistleblower and ordered it to conduct a special hearing to review claims of retaliation against him after he accused the chief inspector general of cover-ups.

Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson gave the agency 30 days to hold a “compliance hearing” to allow investigator Doug Glisson to demonstrate how he believes his rights under the Police Officers Bill of Rights were violated.

Glisson, a supervisor who has a 20-year career in law enforcement, was hit with six internal affairs investigations in a single day after he told members of a state Senate committee about what he suspected were instances of cover-up and abuse at the state prison agency. During the investigations, Glisson concluded that the reviews were superficial, that the officer in charge — Inspector Brian Falstrom — was biased against him, and that the goal of the investigations was to discredit him or force him out.

Glisson protested in a six-page letter to FDC Secretary Julie Jones in May 2015. He asked for a formal compliance review hearing to go over his complaints, but was rebuffed and sued the agency.

In the letter to Jones, Glisson called for Falstrom to be removed from the investigation because, according to another investigator’s sworn affidavit, Falstrom had called Glisson an “effing whistleblower.” Only after Glisson sued last fall was Falstrom removed from the case.

Dodson ruled that Glisson was entitled to the hearing, that he had no other legal remedy and that the agency erred when it claimed it did not have to grant him a hearing. Under the law, Glisson will have the right to choose two members of the five-member compliance review board. The agency will pick two and those four will pick a fifth.

FDC spokesman Alberto Moscoso said FDC was still reviewing the ruling and would have no comment.

Glisson’s attorney, Ryan Andrews, said the ruling could have broad-ranging consequences for other whistleblowers and officers who are the subject of internal affairs investigations within the department.

While this is a victory for Mr. Glisson personally and professionally, it is also a victory for all employees of the Department of Corrections. This ruling will help all employees at DOC get what they never could before when their Officers' Bill of Rights are violated,’’ he said.

The department files “hundreds of these internal affairs investigations a year and I’m not aware of them ever granting a compliance review hearing or a compliance review board in the history of the department,’’ he said. “They deny them as a matter of course, as a rubber stamp, and now they can’t do it anymore.”

Glisson is one of five FDC investigators who unsuccessfully sued the agency in 2014 after Gov. Rick Scott’s inspector general, Melinda Miguel, refused to give them special protection that would have shielded them from administrative consequences.

Glisson believes he is being punished for speaking out against former Inspector General Jeffery Beasley. He accused his former boss of improperly and unethically interfering with pending investigations.

Glisson and three others testified on March 9, 2015, before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. They alleged that Beasley shut down an investigation into the death of an inmate at Jefferson Correctional Institution, ordered investigators to cover up that a doctor who had been hired by the agency had his license revoked in another state, and ordered Glisson and another inspector to tamp down an investigation into inmate abuse by a training center director because of a “Capitol connection” — someone who had close ties to a person in Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

“Mr. Glisson has been through hell since he stood up for what he believed in and made his protected disclosures regarding the suspicious death of Randall Jordan Aparo,’’ Andrews said. “Although it has taken time, these whistleblowers will not be kept down."

Earlier this year, Jones reassigned Beasley to a newly created job as chief of intelligence. He continues to draw an annual salary of $116,500

Marco Rubio on Donald Trump: 'I'm going to vote for him'

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio once routinely referred to Republican rival Donald Trump as a "con man." But Trump's still "substantially better" than Democrat Hillary Clinton, Rubio told Florida reporters Thursday.

"I'm going to support him. I'm going to vote for him," he said. 

In a separate interview, Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper he'd be willing to speak on Trump's behalf at the GOP nominating convention in Cleveland.

The Florida U.S. senator said in the sit-down with Florida reporters that he has more faith in Trump than Clinton on a variety of issues, from overturning the Affordable Care Act to opposing abortion to appointing strict constructionists to the Supreme Court.

"Donald Trump won. Donald Trump was not a default choice," said Rubio, whose own presidential candidacy ended after he lost the Florida primary in March. "He won, and he won for a reason." (Rubio noted that he "finished third, I guess, in the delegate count.")

How can he justify backing Trump after having criticized him so harshly?

"Because the one other choice is someone who I believe is corrupt," Rubio said. "I'm not supporting her, and I'm not going to abstain from voting."

Other South Florida Republicans, including former Rubio and Trump opponent Jeb Bush, have said they won't vote for either Trump or Clinton.