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217 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

Pols react to Mendelsohn indictment

Today's arrest of Hollywood eye doctor Alan Mendelsohn, who raised more than $2 million to influence Florida lawmakers, came as politicians for state and federal office furiously scrambled to boost their second-quarter fundraising totals before the reporting deadline.

"You're always surprised at stuff like that,'' said Republican state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, who is running for the Florida Senate. "It's not something I feel comfortable talking about. He's a friend.''

In a rare example of his involvement in a Democratic primary, Mendelsohn raised money for a secretive campaign group tied to Eleanor Sobel  --  the wife of a dermatologist -- that ran attack ads against her 2008 state Senate rivals, lawyers Tim Ryan and Ken Gottlieb. Mendelsohn is not named in the lawsuit filed by Ryan against People for a Better Florida Fund but was slated to be deposed about raising $50,000 for the group, Ryan said.

"I think the indictment is a reflection of the way he operates campaigns  to do whatever is necessary to accomplish his goals...to have his candidate win at all costs and to pay little attention to the truth,'' Ryan said.

Mendelsohn was well known in Tallahassee, where he lobbied for legislation that would benefit medical doctors over less-educated and less costly healthcare professionals. For example, he pushed for legislation that would require eye-surgery patients to get follow-up care only from an ophthalmologist or licensed doctor, not an optometrist.

"His major play was at the state level,'' said former state Sen. Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach. "His biggest issue was that if you want to practice medicine, you should go to medical school.''

The making of the Meek political dynasty

The Christian Science Monitor points to U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Senate candidate and son of former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, as one of six "political dynasties in the making."

Vice President Joe Biden's son, Beau, returned home from a year in Iraq with his National Guard unit Wednesday to renewed speculation that he will seek the Senate seat his father held. If he enters the race, he wouldn't be the only prospect for extending a political dynasty on Capitol Hill or in statehouses these days. The lines of succession may not be as centrally planned as the strategy Joseph Kennedy worked out for his three sons who served in the US Senate and won or sought the presidency. Not all members of political families are even on good speaking terms. Moreover, the family name that's a plus for some voters can be a stigma for others. But name recognition goes a long way in politics, and every election cycle brings a crop of recycled names.

Dine with Obama in Miami for $100K

Here's the invitation to the Oct. 26 fundraiser headlined by President Barack Obama in Miami.

MiamiHSVF



A $500 donation will get you into the cocktail reception. Give or raise $10,000 and you'll also walk out with a "presidential host committee clutch." For a $15,200 donation, they'll throw in a photo with the president. And for $100,000, you can have dinner with him too.

Contributions will be split evenly between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Sex. Lies. Money. Another Capitol indictment

Alan Mendelsohn has a lot of  explaining to do. The indictment against him charges him in a scheme of illegally shifting around money, using it to pay off a mistress, help his kid get into med school, campaign for gambling and to bribe a former lawmaker, etc.(We don't know who that is. Yet).

Download Pin.mendelsohn.indict

President Obama's first fundraising trip to Florida

President Barack Obama is slated to headline an Oct. 26 fundraiser in Miami for congressional and senate candidates that will be organized by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and other Florida Democrats.

The trip would be Obama's second to Florida since he was elected president. His first and only visit so far was on Feb. 10, when he held a town hall meeting in Fort Myers to promote his economic stimulus plan. That was the day Gov. Charlie Crist notoriously joined him and earned the wrath of fiscal conservatives.

In Florida, Democrats are trying to hold onto their congressional seats and seize the Senate post held by Republican George LeMieux, who was recently appointed to fill the rest of Mel Martinez's term. Politico writes about Obama's role in protecting the Democratic majority here.

Two more vying for Broward School Board seat; one more for County Commission...

...and -- surprise! -- all three are Republicans.

William J. Delgado and Eric E. Garner have added their names to the list of people vying for a seat on the Broward School Board, after Beverly Gallagher was suspended last week following her arrest in a federal corruption sting.

Torey L. Alston has applied to replace Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, who was also arrested last Wednesday.

Gov. Charlie Crist must now appoint someone to fill in both posts.

Delgado, of Miramar, is president of the Latin American Business Association and former executive vice president of the Latin Builders Association. He is a past member of the Miami-Dade school district's construction committee, among other boards, and lists U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, as a reference.

Garner, who lives in Pembroke Pines, has been a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland since 2007. He is a former teacher and administrative assistant at Miami-Dade public schools -- and he lists state Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican, as a reference.

Alston, seeking the county commission seat, works for the state as executive director of the office of supplier diversity. He lives in Tallahassee, but he graduated from Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach. Alston lists the Rev. Dr. Mack King Carter among his references.

Alston, who is African American, is one of several vying for Eggelletion's seat, which represents an overwhelmingly black and Democratic district. A few others have also applied for Gallagher's southwest Broward seat.

Deutch 'disappointed' in Crist, McCollum

Sen. Ted Deutch, "very disappointed" that the governor and attorney general on Tuesday didn't advance CFO Alex Sink's proposal to expand and better train the SBA trustees, said today he will file legislation to "expand the scope" of the SBA.

But he stopped short of supporting a bigger board of trustees, which now consists of just the governor, AG and CFO. Sink wants the trustees to grow by at least two people. His legislation, which has failed in past sessions, would instead expand the SBA's Investment Advisory Council from 6 to 9 members.  Each member would be required to have financial knowledge and experience, and must represent local government employees, firefighters, police, teachers and state employees, and Florida Retirement System retirees.

“CFO Sink has worked to increase transparency, accountability and oversight of Florida’s pension fund since coming into office and yesterday’s reforms were just the latest example," said Deutch, D-Boca Raton. "My legislation aims to support these important priorities by giving a greater voice to investors and retirees, ensuring the highest level of integrity and eliminating any potential conflicts of interests.”

Deutch 'disappointed' in Crist, McCollum

Sen. Ted Deutch, "very disappointed" that the governor and attorney general on Tuesday didn't advance CFO Alex Sink's proposal to expand and better train the SBA trustees, said today he will file legislation to "expand the scope" of the SBA.

But he stopped short of supporting a bigger board of trustees, which now consists of just the governor, AG and CFO. Sink wants the trustees to grow by at least two people. His legislation, which has failed in past sessions, would instead expand the SBA's Investment Advisory Council from 6 to 9 members.  Each member would be required to have financial knowledge and experience, and must represent local government employees, firefighters, police, teachers and state employees, and Florida Retirement System retirees.

“CFO Sink has worked to increase transparency, accountability and oversight of Florida’s pension fund since coming into office and yesterday’s reforms were just the latest example," said Deutch, D-Boca Raton. "My legislation aims to support these important priorities by giving a greater voice to investors and retirees, ensuring the highest level of integrity and eliminating any potential conflicts of interests.”

Electra Bustle joins Southern Strategy Group

A day after her resignation as state highway chief became official, Electra Bustle revealed her new gig: She's a lobbyist for Southern Strategy Group based in Tallahassee. The 10-year-old lobbying firm calls itself one of the largest government relations firms in the U.S. with 17 affiliated offices in multiple states.

SSG Founder Paul Bradshaw issued a news release noting Bustle's "deep subject matter expertise on a range of topics including law enforcement and the operation of state government." (By law, Bustle is prohibited from lobbying her former agency for a period of time). The release is here.

Bustle, 42, is an attorne. Before her two-and-a-half years as executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, she was an assistant commissioner at FDLE and was general counsel for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and deputy general counsel for the Florida Sheriffs Association. 

-- Steve Bousquet

Sheila Alu: I worked with the FBI

Sunrise City Commissioner Sheila Alu confirmed that she assisted the FBI into their investigation into Broward corruption. Alu's disclosure was first covered on The Daily Pulp, a New Times blog, earlier today.

"I will confirm I have been working side by side with the FBI for four years,'' said Alu, who also works as a prosecutor at the Broward state attorney's office.

Alu disclosed her involvement today after School Board Member Phyllis Hope said she was at a party with School Board Member Beverly Gallagher and Alu in 2008. That party was mentioned in the federal criminal complaint against Gallagher, who has since been suspended.