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189 posts from June 2010

June 28, 2010

Tom Grady files lawsuit demanding Charlie Crist return donations

Naples Daily News: Linda Morton of Naples donated $500 to Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate election campaign, while John Rood of Jacksonville, a retired U.S. Ambassador, donated $4,800 to the Republican.

Now they want a refund.

The two have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all contributors who are demanding their money back after Crist announced he’d run as an Independent.

“Crist has made it clear that he believes a candidate should not say one thing and do another," says the lawsuit, filed last week in Collier Circuit Court. "… The parties agree with Crist.”

The two are represented by Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples, who resigned as regional chairman of Crist’s Senate campaign and from the statewide finance team after the Republican switched parties. Grady couldn’t immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.

Atwater: special session this summer is a good idea

After touring the oil-tarred beaches of the Gulf coast over the weekend, Senate President Jeff Atwater , R-North Palm Beach, says he is now supportive of calling a summer special session to deal with a host of issues from tax relief for Gulf Coast businesses to adopting incentives for renewable energy. He hasn't heard from the governor on the issue, however, since May 10, when Gov. Charlie Crist first asked him to support a special session to pass a constitutional amendment to ban drilling in Florida waters, and admits the reluctance of House leaders to come into session remains a hurdle.

"I believe there are some things the legislature could responsibly do to offer relief in the near term and the long term,'' Atwater said, after a reception for Senate staff in the Capitol on Monday.  "These neighbors of ours are hurting and are in deparate straits. It's no longer about a lose summer season. It's about a lost culture."

Next door, in the House gallery, was a meeting of the Clean Energy Congress, a gathering of clean energy advocates meeting to come up with ways to increase public pressure on policymakers to shift Florida's dependence off fossil fuels. Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, urged the group that they should not leave the two-day meeting without calling for a special legislative session that puts on the ballot both an oil drilling ban and a renewable portfolio standard that requires power companies to derive a percentage of its power from clean energy sources. Florida is one of only 11 states that still don't have such a standard in place.

Continue reading "Atwater: special session this summer is a good idea " »

Newt Gingrich endorses old buddy Bill McCollum

Good news/bad news on the Bill McCollum front today. Newt Gingrich endorsed him for governor (“At a time when the size and scope of government is increasing at an alarming rate, our nation is looking for leaders who will fight for the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint and economic and personal freedom.  Floridians have such a leader in Bill McCollum,” Gingrich said) while Gary Fineout says McCollum is making rookie mistakes.

Another issue: Does McCollum agree with Gingrich about the oil claims escrow account? On Fox News earlier this month, Gingrich said this about the McCollum-backed escrow fund idea: "I mean has America degenerated into a Venezuelan-style country where the leader gets to pick somebody to hand out $20 billion and we think that's not going to be corrupt? All of this is outside the law."

Greene touts backing of Dem who bailed in Congressional race

Jeff Greene's U.S. Senate campaign sent a press release today announcing that former Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork -- once a wellknown openly gay politician in Broward -- had endorsed the Democrat.

The press release omits that Stork angered Democrats when citing a health ailment he abruptly dropped out of his congressional race against Republican Congressman Clay Shaw in 2004. Shaw easily beat a last minute replacement.

In 2008, the Federal Election Commission fined Stork $30,000 after it concluded his ads about his Storks bakeries were campaign ads -- skirting campaign rules that prohibit corporate donations.

He joked about that fine in an email with the Herald at the time: "I guess it is a compliment that the federal government believes that the quality of my Stork's food can somehow influence voters' decisions." 

The press release describes Stork as the owner of Stork's Bakery in Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors. That's no longer the case. Stork sold the Wilton Manors location to his baker a few years ago and shut down the Las Olas site.

Stork emailed us a response as to why he endorsed Greene. He said Greene understands how to create jobs and has the resources to compete and Stork said he was concerned about candidate Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek's ties to developer Dennis Stackhouse.

"I really was unaware of the details of the developer deal that Kendrick's mother and Kendrick's chief of staff were involved with," Stork wrote. "I guess I wasn't following the political news as closely as I should have been.  I think it was a huge error in judgement and I cannot support Kendrick for that reason.  He just can't win.  It is surprising to me that others don't see it the same way."

But Stork, who said he had previously endorsed Meek, had some kind words for the Congressman:

"I have always liked Kendrick, liked the way he's voted and have always thought of him as a fighter, but I am supporting Jeff Greene."

June 27, 2010

McCollum hits Scott, slaps Crist in robo call

A new robo call from the Bill McCollum campaign:

"Meet Mr. Slick - Rick Scott.

"He's been busted twice this week by Florida newspapers for telling whoppers about Bill McCollum.  According to the experts, Mr. Slick - Rick Scott, and his campaign have been lying about Bill McCollum's position on the issues of abortion and immigration.

"Between Obama and Crist Floridians are tired of typical politicians - willing to say anything to be elected. In August Republicans have a choice.  Let's restore principled conservative leadership to Tallahassee, vote for Bill McCollum."

Former 'Apprentice,' tea partiers vie for Tallahassee

This year's state legislative races in South Florida includes a feisty contest that could divide Broward's gay and black communities, former state legislators attempting a comeback, and a handful of tea party activists hoping to make their way to Tallahassee.

The candidates have about two months before the Aug. 24 primary to grab voters' attention amid higher profile races for governor and U.S. Senate.

But state lawmakers set policy on issues close to home, such as oil drilling, FCATs and taxes.

``The people who make the most decisions about your life on a daily basis are on the bottom of the ballot, not the top of the ballot,'' said Ron Mills, a Democratic committeeman in Broward.

Story here.

Rick Scott's role in Columbia/HCA scandal

The Miami Herald looks today at Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's role in the Medicaid fraud case at his former company.

``As I have said repeatedly, Columbia/HCA made mistakes, and I take responsibility for what happened on my watch as CEO,'' Scott said in a written statement Friday. He has denied knowing frauds were taking place while he was there, and he was never charged with any crimes.

However, federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies -- most committed during Scott's tenure -- in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion...

Whether or not Scott was aware of his company's questionable conduct, the breadth of the problems raises questions about Scott's leadership, management experts say.

Nell Minow of the Corporate Library, a watchdog group, put it this way: ``Being ignorant of all that doesn't inspire confidence.'' In judging a CEO, she said, ``it's no better to be a schnook than a crook.''

The key question for Scott is whether he can persuade voters that he deserves to be chief executive of Florida while at the same time insisting that he knew nothing about the greatest Medicare fraud in American history as it happened under his nose.

Full story here.

June 26, 2010

Greene claims quotes taken out of context

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene says he was unfairly quoted talking about the Koran in a Washington Post story. Here's a transcript provided by the campaign:

Question: I don't know what's going on in the Muslim world. They are scaring me very much. Over in Europe, there are Muslims taking over the population. Here in America, they talk about building a mosque at the scene of the Twin Towers. What is your take on what's going on, really, and what can be done if there is a bigger problem?

Answer: I'm not an expert on Muslims. It is my understanding that there are 1.2 billion Muslims, and that about 200 million of them are pretty devout followers of parts of the Quran. Parts of it that say something like, everyone has a chance to accept Allah and Muhammad's teachings and if they don't the infidels must be killed, there's all kinds of this crazy stuff. I think, unfortunately, that's motivating extremists.  Most
Muslims are like everyone else in the world, they want peace. But there are people that follow some of those crazy teachings, you know, the suicide bombers. It's a scary world out there. I believe what I read in the media, and I'm scared, and I'm scared for the world, and I'm scared for America, and that's why I'm running for office. Like I said earlier, we have to make our enemies tremble. We have to stand by our friends, be they Europeans or Israel or anywhere, and not let these extremists do anything to destroy the wonderful lives we've created for ourselves.

The politically incorrect Jeff Greene

You wouldn't necessarily expect political correctness from a political rookie like Jeff Greene, who hangs out with the likes of convicted rapist Mike Tyson and prostitution ringleader Heidi Fleiss, and Democratic Senate rival Kendrick Meek is drawing attention to some cringe-worthy quotes.

In a profile in The Washington Post, Greene said "I'm not an expert on Muslims" in response to a question at the Wynmoor Democratic Club in Coconut Creek. But he added that anyone who knows anything about the Koran knows that it contains "all kinds of this crazy stuff. And unfortunately that's motivating a lot of these extremists."

The Post also reported that when Greene handed a staffer a stack of business cards he collected while campaining, he said, "I want to call every one of those people," adding that one of the cards was that of an 87-year-old magician. "His trick is that he's going to be able to live through the show."

He called Fleiss a "businesswoman" and defended her by saying, "Look, she's a Jewish girl; her dad's a pediatrician."

And in a Wall Street Journal story today, Greene hints that white voters won't support Meek, who is black. "Kendrick Meek is unelectable," Mr. Greene says, noting that with "a lot of the demographics, I will do much better than Kendrick Meek."

Florida looks to follow Arizona on immigration

Florida Republican leaders have begun crafting anti-illegal-immigrant legislation modeled after an Arizona law that has incited widespread protests and fueled national and international debate over U.S. immigration policies.

Under the proposed bill, police would have broad power under state law to ask suspects for proof of legal residency, said Rep. William Snyder, a Republican from Stuart who plans to introduce the legislation in November. "We have significant components from the Arizona bill that I plan to incorporate," he said. "We have the beginnings of it."

The effort, which would be filed for consideration during the March legislative session, is already drawing broad support within the GOP. Read more here.