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207 posts from July 2009

July 29, 2009

Emails revealed in Tim Ryan lawsuit expose an ECO's secrets

A lawsuit filed by Tim Ryan, who lost a nasty primary to Eleanor Sobel last year, peels back a layer of secrecy about electioneering communication groups. Read the full story at www.miamiherald.com

Ryan sued People for a Better Florida Fund, a group linked to the Florida Medical Association and behind attack ads on Ryan and opponent Ken Gottlieb. The Fund and Sobel's campaign both used the same consultants -- including Steve Vancore -- according to a deposition in the case.

Here are some excerpts from the emails:

* A survey done by VancoreJones Communications in June 2008 described Democratic voters in District 31 as "the most angry, despondent and suspicious group we've ever polled.'' But on the plus side: "Despite being very opinionated they can be easily persuaded.''

* In an Aug. 4 email to Vancore, Sobel writes about "all those jaded politicians who support Gottlieb -- can't we say something like more of the same, back door deals with the good ole boys - long time incumbents-Gunzburger and Wasserman Rubin.''

* The consultants compliment themselves. In one email, Aug. 7 Vancore concludes that the mail pieces are "very f------ awesome.''

*About two weeks before election day, the Fund was nervous about Sobel's prospects. A summary of a poll sent in an email by VancoreJones states "Our campaign is currently on the wrong track, Ryan is moving forward and we appear to have stalled. But that is about to change. ... A few well-placed attack ads should stop him in his tracks.''

* The folks at People for a Better Florida Fund weren't too worried about negative press that appeared before election day. After a Miami Herald article appeared, Tim Stapleton, deputy treasurer of the Fund, concluded in an Aug. 21 email: "The good thing is nobody reads newspapers, except people like us and we are not normal''

Sanson legislative panel to begin Tuesday

Rep. Bill Galvano, chair of the select committee investigating Ray Sansom's dealings with Northwest Florida State College, announced today that the first hearing will begin 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The hearing is scheduled for four hours, though it's unclear how much work the five-member panel will be able to do given a request from Sansom that the proceedings be delayed until after his criminal trial.

Galvano said last week that it's reasonable to grant a delay but he also said some work could proceed. More here.

-- Alex Leary

Sansom hearing to begin 9 a.m. Tuesday

Rep. Bill Galvano, chair of the select committee investigating Ray Sansom's dealings with Northwest Florida State College, announced today that the first hearing will begin 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The hearing is scheduled for four hours, though it's unclear how much work the five-member panel will be able to do given a request from Sansom that the proceedings be delayed until after his criminal trial. Galvano said last week that it's reasonable to grant a delay but he also said some work could proceed.

Background here.

Weighty Capitol choices: Tofu or beef burger? Granola or gravy biscuit?

"High quality, nutritious and price-conscious." That's what restauranteur and lobbyist Jeff Sharkey plans for the lower-level and 10th floor Capitol eateries he just took over.

The Times/Herald just got a copy of his bid proposal approved by the state, and it might make those two months stuck inside the Capitol less bland for all of us. Sharkey lays out a "Florida fresh" menu where the pancakes are whole wheat and the bacon comes in regular or turkey. Tofu burgers are offered alongside all-beef, and the lasagna comes in a vegetarian or a meat version. (And yes, we know many of you are rolling your eyes at the notion of tofu between a bun...)

Continue reading "Weighty Capitol choices: Tofu or beef burger? Granola or gravy biscuit?" »

Bill filed to ban driving while texting

Texting State Representative Doug Holder, a Republican from Sarasota, today filed a bill to ban driving while texting. This is the third year Holder has filed the bill and he vows to "continue to do so to keep the issue in the forefront."

A similar measure is pending in Congress. Holder says that 14 other states have passed related legislation and "it is time that we have the debate in the Florida House.” 

He's hoping that a new report by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and recent news articles about it, will increase the heat. The study concluded that if you are texting while driving you increase your chances of having a crash by 23 times.

McCollum unveils statewide leadership for campaign

The Bill McCollum for Governor campaign just announced its campaign leadership structure -- business, civic and community leaders campaign officials say will "help promote McCollum’s agenda of restoring Florida’s economy and improving the quality of life and standard of living for our children and grandchildren."

Ag Commissioner Charles Bronson, who not so long ago pondered challenging McColum, will serve as statewide chair. Keep reading for the rest, as described by the McCollum camp:

Continue reading "McCollum unveils statewide leadership for campaign" »

Sink ducks 'public option' in health care reform debate

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the leading Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, refused to say whether she would support one of President Obama's top priorities in health care reform: a so-called "public option" that would compete with private insurance plans.

A government-backed plan is emerging as a major sticking point in the negotiations in Washington, with liberal Democrats demanding that a new health care system include a government-run alternative, and Republicans calling it a deal-breaker.

The ever-cautious Sink refused to take sides and suggested Democrats haven't made their case for a public option. Yesterday, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said he would rather rely on the private sector.

"I don't know what's in that 1,500-page bill,'' Sink said. "I'm waiting for an explanation of what the plan is. Nobody knows what the plan is...You know what I want? I want something that works.''

Sink was in Boca Raton Wednesday morning to speak to a group called Leaders of Tomorrow that brings South Florida business executives together to network with each other and hear from community leaders. Sink warned the crowd of about 30 people that there was a reporter present before fielding questions.

Sink emphasized that Florida's economy is still struggling but dismissed growing criticism from Republicans that the federal stimulus plan is not working.

"Last fall we were in danger of a total global financial crash. That  was like the Titanic hitting the iceberg, and you don't turn around from that in six months,'' she said. "You can't just turn these road projects -- even though they call them shovel-ready, there's a lag time. I'm not discouraged at all. Between now and the end of the year, we're going to see a lot more economic activity as a result of the stimulus package.''

Karlinsky and Rood host fundraiser for Crist

Money Insurance lobbyist Fred Karlinsky and former Bush Pioneer and Ambassador to the Bahamas John Rood will host a fundraiser with RPOF Chair Jim Greer in Fort Lauderdale tonight (Wednesday). The governor is conveniently at a renewable energy roundtable today in Dania Beach and will do "work and call time" in the afternoon from Fort Lauderdale.

The event, at the Tower Club, includes a VIP reception that demands a minimum contribution of $5,000 and a general reception with suggested contributions of $2,500.

Karlinsky was on the host committee for Alex Sink's first fundraiser after she announced her candidacy for governor but has contributed this cycle only to AG Bill McCollum, Senate Prez Jeff Awater and Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Joe Gibbons. Rood, so far, has given to Republican state Senate candidate John Thrasher.

Ron Book to Charlie Crist: 'You are f**king wrong'

Lobbyist Ron Book had a testy exchange recently with Gov. Charlie Crist over whether the state Department of Corrections was placing sex offenders under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, where a community of the unwanted has sprung up because residency restrictions give them no other place to live (more here on the most recent of the Miami Herald stories on the situation matter).

Book had advocated for get-tough on sex-offender laws, but he said they've gone too far and the situation under the bridge proves it. Worse yet, DOC is dropping off sex offenders there, he said. But Crist denied his agency was doing that, prompting a frustrated Book to lose his cool.

"You are fucking wrong," Book told Crist, according to this recent Newsweek piece. Book confirmed the exchange.

July 28, 2009

A Chinese drywall czar?

Bill Nelson is asking President Barack Obama to streamline federal assistance for consumers who are stuck with tainted drywall from China.

In a letter to Obama, Nelson writes that consumers need "White House mobilization and coordination of all federal resources that could help homeowners" and a "one-stop federal Drywall Assistance Center.”

He's also asking the Small Business Administration to find available financial assistance for homeowners and businesses who have tainted drywall and for Treasury and HUD to provide mortgage relief and other assistance for homeowners who may be facing foreclosure because they've been forced out of their homes by defective drywall and are paying for two residences.