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310 posts from October 2009

October 31, 2009

Scott Maddox stayin' aliiiive in politics

Lights flashing, bass pumping, Democratic candidate Scott Maddox pumped up the party from the deejay's perch behind the dance floor.

"I want to see everyone on the dance floor because I got a feeling!'' he urged party activists who came to his reception at the Florida Democratic Party's recent conference in Orlando. Supporters line-danced to the "Cupid Shuffle" and shimmied to The Bee Gees' "Stayin Alive.''

Ah ah ah ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive. Ah ah ah ah, stayin' aliiiive.

Who knew a campaign to be Florida's agriculture commissioner could be so much fun? More here.

And check out Maddox's dance video below. Inspired by the Black Eyed Peas, he's "got a feeling" he can pull this campaign off.

October 30, 2009

Report: Dockery will run for governor

Sen. Paula Dockery's hometown newspaper, The Ledger of Lakeland, quoting "multiple Republican sources," is reporting that she will enter the race for governor next week. The paper didn't talk to Dockery, who said on her Facebook page that she was attending a funeral on Friday.

The 48-year-old Dockery was elected to the state House in 1996 and the Senate in 2002 and chairs the Criminal Justice Committee, and would be term limited out of the Senate in 2012.

Her entrance would create a party fight with Attorney General Bill McCollum and set up the intriguing possibility that both parties would nominate women for governor for the first time in the state's history. (The Democrats' likely nominee is CFO Alex Sink).

-- Steve Bousquet

Florida members among those named in House ethics investigations

DC's abuzz over a report in today's Washington Post about a memo accidentally posted online by the House Ethics Committee. The July memo details how the committee's investigators "have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling," according to the Post.

It said "nearly half the members of a powerful House subcommittee in control of Pentagon spending," including Rep. Bill Young, R-St. Petersburg, are under scrutiny. Young's office didn't respond to the paper.

The Post is also reporting today that the committee sought information from Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral, about a $10 million earmark in his district that connects Coconut Road near Fort Myers to Interstate 75. His office told the Post that the inquiry does not focus on him and that he had no involvement with the project.



LeMieux introduces his first bill: to crack down on Medicaid fraud

New Florida Sen. George LeMieux took to the Senate floor to announce his first piece of legislation: a bill aimed at cracking down on one of South Florida's growth industries -- health care fraud.

Among the provisions, LeMieux proposes requiring background checks for health care providers and suppliers affiliated with Medicare and Medicaid, using technology to detect fraud before claims are paid and appointing a Chief Health Care Fraud Prevention Officer within the Department of Health and Human Services – to fight health care fraud nationwide.

"We are losing billions of dollars to criminals – money that would otherwise be used to care for our people,” LeMieux said. "At a minimum, we lose $60 billion every year to health care fraud. Some estimates have this number as high as $226 billion. We might not agree on how to implement healthcare reform but we can all agree to fight waste, fraud, and abuse."

Here's LeMieux on the floor.

McCollum and the Mrs. reach out to women voters


Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, facing the Democratic CFO who wants to be Florida's first female governor, is taking steps to reach out to female voters.

His gubernatorial campaign just announced the formation of “Women for McCollum,” which will have his wife Ingrid McCollum working with co-chairs former Lt. Governor and Senate President Toni Jennings and Republican National Committeewoman Sharon Day.  The aim: "to engage women of all ages and backgrounds and from every corner of Florida to elect Bill McCollum as Florida’s next Governor," according to the release just sent to the media.

McCollum is going up against CFO Alex Sink in the 2010 governor's race. Sink is a former Bank of America executive who has already started to portray herself as a working mother and "PTA mom" sympathetic to female voters' needs.
“I’m proud to lend my support to Bill McCollum because I know he’s the right person to lead our state during these difficult times,” said Jennings, who served under Gov. Jeb Bush. “We need solid, tested leadership as we tackle our tough challenges, and Bill McCollum’s unwavering commitment to the people of Florida and his vision for our future are more critical than ever before. Bill McCollum will get the job done.”

Continue reading "McCollum and the Mrs. reach out to women voters" »

Lincoln Diaz-Balart warns Obama: No military action in Honduras, we are watching

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart warned the Obama administration Thursday against blocking next month's elections in Honduras -- suggesting the White House might consider military action against the Central American country.

"The only thing that could stop those elections is a military action ordered by President Obama. We are watching," Diaz-Balart said at a press conference where congressional Republicans called for an investigation into what they suggested were U.S. State Department improprieties related to the crisis. "Each day, there are more and more members of Congress and more people within the nation aware of this nation aware of this issue and supportive of the right of the people of Honduras to have elections. It would be unconscionable if President Obama ordered a military action to prevent an election, to impose a crony of Chavez, Castro, Ortega, et al. Congress is watching."

Asked by reporters to clarify, Diaz-Balart said he wasn't saying it was going to happen, "I'm saying if that happened...I certainly hope that will not happen because the people of Honduras deserve to have their elections."

Looks like much of the dispute may be moot. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggests a deal has been struck to resolve the dispute. But not without the critics of Obama's policy in Honduras winning won one of the battles: Congress' in-house Law Library rebuffed calls from the chairmen of the House and Senate foreign relations committees to retract a report on the military-backed coup in Honduras that the chairmen charge is flawed and "has contributed to the political crisis that still wracks'' the country.

Continue reading "Lincoln Diaz-Balart warns Obama: No military action in Honduras, we are watching" »

October 29, 2009

Iowa Republican: The Dolphins new owners "far more offensive" than Rush Limbaugh

The brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh and the NFL reached Congress Thursday, as a Republican Congressman used a hearing to defend the radio talker -- and suggest the Dolphins new part owners are "far more offensive."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he saw nothing offensive in comments made years ago by Limbaugh about quarterback Donovan McNabb, and pressed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to say exactly what he disagreed with. Goodell criticized Limbaugh when the radio talk show host was part of a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams. The group eventually dropped Limbaugh from their bid under fire from people such as Goodell.

"I would point out that you have a couple of owners that have performed lyrics in songs that are far more offensive. In fact, I don't think anything that Rush Limbaugh said was offensive, but with Fergie and with J. Lo, they have, between the two of them, alleged that the CIA are terrorists and liars, they've promoted sexual abuse of women, they've used the N-word, verbal pornography, recreational drug use, et cetera, and they are owners of the Dolphins."

No, they're not, say the Dolphins. The team says Jennifer Lopez is not part of the ownership group of the Dolphins, but that her husband, Marc Anthony, is a limited partner of the team. And Fergie isn’t a limited partner of the team, -- yet. While she's been pre-approved by the NFL as a limited partner, the Dolphins say, the transaction "has not yet formally been consummated by our ownership group."

Continue reading "Iowa Republican: The Dolphins new owners "far more offensive" than Rush Limbaugh" »

Rep. Saunders preps parimutuel bill, holds for special session

Democratic Rep. Ron Saunders says he's drafted proposed gaming legislation that is basically what lawmakers passed in the 2009 session, minus the Seminole gambling provisions that are now in limbo amid strained negotiations between the tribe and the state.

Translation: a parimutuel bill.

Saunders, D-Key West, said his proposal would allow the parimutuels to operate as lawmakers have already agreed they should. That will allow them to benefit from approved tax breaks and start on capital projects that can create jobs, he said.

But he isn't filing it until he gets a clear signal on if and when the Legislature will go into a special session -- which, depending on the day and who you talk to, could include anything from gambling and SunRail to oil drilling and designating a new state pie (well, OK, not that last one...).

"A majority of the Legislature already voted for some of this parimutuel stuff, so why not take what we passed and give these parimutuels the tax breaks," Saunders said. "Right now they're in limbo because of the Seminoles. I support the Seminoles, but resolving that issue is more complicated. The parimutuels are ready to go."

Broward GOP chairman says he didn't dis Rubio

Broward GOP chairman Chip LaMarca disputes conservative activist Javier Manjarres' take on events leading up to Monday's meeting where Marco Rubio spoke.

Manjarres had said that GOP leaders suggested that he ask Rubio to postpone so they could focus on the Broward corruption scandals -- which involve several Democrats. But ultimately Rubio was not asked to step aside, and gave a rousing speech that drew much applause in a jam-packed room.

LaMarca said he didn't ask Marjarres to disinvite Rubio -- and says if he needed to do that he would have called Rubio himself. LaMarca said that GOP leaders had talked about postponing to focus on corruption matters, but ultimately decided they could hear from Rubio and discuss the ethical issues in the wake of the scandal that included the arrests of County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, School Board Member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Samuels.

The spat about whether or not anyone wanted Rubio to not show up is another sign of tension between Broward Republicans about whether to support Rubio or his rival, Gov. Charlie Crist, for U.S. Senate. Manjarres, who heads up the Conservative Republican Alliance and isn't a member of the Broward Republican Executive Committee, is a big Rubio fan pushing for a straw poll vote.

LaMarca says nice things about Rubio and Crist and his official line about whether to have a straw poll is if the members want one, they will have one. But LaMarca is viewed as a Crist ally -- he is in frequent communication with Crist's office regarding appointments to replace Eggelletion and Gallagher who were both suspended.

Developer once tied to Meek family charged with fraud

The Miami Herald: Dennis Stackhouse surrendered Thursday to face charges that he stole nearly $1 million from a proposed taxpayer-supported biopharmaceutical park intended to revitalize Liberty City. A Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday signed an arrest warrant charging Stackhouse, 67, with two counts of first-degree organized scheme to defraud and two counts of first-degree grand theft. His arrest comes more than two years after The Miami Herald reported that the developer used double billings and fake invoices to siphon at least $500,000 from the failed Poinciana Park project...

...Stackhouse also used some loan money for political influence. He donated $10,000 to a nonprofit, the James E. Scott Community Association, known as JESCA, then run by Miami-Dade Commissioner Dorrin Rolle. He also paid at least $40,000 in consulting fees to former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek -- whose son, Democratic congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, tried to secure federal funds for Stackhouse's Poinciana project...

Full story here.