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249 posts from July 2010

July 28, 2010

Democrats reserving TV time to advertise in Mario Diaz-Balart's old seat?

From The Caucus, The New York Times' politics blog:

"Democrats added another 20 House seats to their list of targeted districts, officials confirmed Tuesday evening, raising the party’s commitment in television advertising for the final weeks of the campaign to more than $49 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved a third wave of television time, one week after announcing the selection of the first two waves that identified 40 of the most vulnerable seats in the midterm elections. The latest cluster of districts includes 14 open seats, a sign that Democrats intend to expand their sights – to a degree, at least – beyond a strict defensive match." (full post here)

One of those 20 targeted districts, the Caucus says, is none other than Florida's 25th -- the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart as he moves to his brother Lincoln's seat in the neighboring 21st district.

That the Dems would target the race in the 25th is not completely surprising: Joe Garcia came close to unseating Diaz-Balart in 2008. Now Garcia is the leading Dem vying for the post again, along with state Rep. David Rivera, the Republican front runner.

Rivera has raised more money than Garcia overall, but Garcia outpaced the Florida House budget chief in contributions last quarter.

Crist's oil spill advisor pumps cash into gov's 527 campaign account

Steve Yerrid When Gov. Charlie Crist named Tampa lawyer Steve Yerrid as his special counsel on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, he made a point that Yerrid would be providing work to the state on a pro bono basis. While the state isn't paying Yerrid at this point, the big-name trial lawyer is now helping Crist. He's contributed $12,500 to the Friends for Freedom & Prosperity -- the 527 political committee formed by Crist ally Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, to help the governor in his independent bid for U.S. Senate.

According to campaign reports, the committee is a bit slow in getting off the ground. Fasano made the first contribution of $5,000 on June 22 and Yerrid was the second on July 22. Yerrid expects that to change, however. He said he was contacted by former Senate President Ken Pruitt, who has endorsed Crist and is drumming up cash for the committee, and he said he is aware of other contributions heading into the account.

Yerrid, a registered Democrat, said there is no link between the appointment and Crist's campaign now. "I contributed to Charlie Crist's Crist's campaigns before and I gave to his U.S. Senate campaign when he was a Republican,'' he said. "My career speaks for itself. I don't have to buy a pro bono appointment.''

Bush Repub. speaks out against 'stupid..immoral' AZ immigration law

Not every Republican is pushing for an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida. In an email chat with former U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez, the one-time Bush appointee said this about the law that empowers local police to become de facto immigration officials:

"I think the law is unconstitutional (the district court judge in Arizona agrees), economically stupid, racist, immoral and un-American."

Most of his fellow Repubs probably disagree with him. Consider Attorney General Bill McCollum's written statement inveighing against the judge's preliminary injunction to stop the law in Arizona:

"Today, the sovereignty of states has been dealt a serious blow by the  judge’s order blocking implementation of some of the most significant provisions of Arizona’s immigration law. The order will prevent law enforcement from performing critical functions under that law while the Court deliberates on the constitutionality of the law’s key provisions. The Obama Administration continues its efforts to strip rights away from our states, and we should all be very concerned about these repeated intrusions."

Debbie Wasserman Schultz looks to link Republicans to Tea Partiers

The Broward Democrat, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, joined chairman Tim Kaine and a host of other congress members to launch the DNC’s latest major initiative: tying the Republican Party to the Tea Party.

"Republicans and their Tea Party allies are fighting to block the progress we've made and return us to the failed policies of the Bush administration," she said. "Essentially you don't know where the Republican party ends and the Tea Party begins and vice versa and they have to own that."

Here's the new web ad the DNC is running.

McCollum bows to Scott's Jax debate demand

Attorney General Bill McCollum sent a letter Wednesday to Leadership Florida, the co-sponsor of a planned statewide TV debate, agreeing to rival Rick Scott's demand that the debate be moved from an Orlando TV station to Jacksonville.

"We are happy to accommodate the Rick Scott campaign's 'demand' to move the debate to Jacksonville," McCollum senior advisor Doyle Bartlett wrote to Leadership Florida president Wendy Abberger.

But Scott also wants the debate to be moved away from a TV studio and to a "public venue" where voters can attend the event. Dean Ridings of the Florida Press Association, which is co-sponsoring the debate, said there isn't enough time to do that. The debate is scheduled for the evening of Aug. 11 on an eight-station network, including WFTS-Channel 28 in Tampa and WPLG-Channel 10 in Miami.

-- Steve Bousquet

Rothstein trustee to RPOF: Pay us $237k

The Republican Party of Florida was sued today in federal bankruptcy court by Berger Singerman, the law firm working on behalf of the trustee in the bankruptcy case related to the former law firm of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.

The lawsuit seeks repayment of $237,000 in money that the now defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm paid to RPOF between 2006 and 2009. The law firm received no legitimate benefit from the political donations, according to the lawsuit.

In April, Berger Singerman sent demand letters to RPOF and dozens of other political groups, politicians and candidates seeking about $650,000. RPOF is the first to be sued, but may not be the last, says Berger Singerman lawyer Chuck Lichtman.

"There are clearly some campaign contributions that are stale in the sense that accounts were lawfully closed which makes it problematc to sue those people. Some accounts are too small and don't merit it from a dollars and cents standpoint," Lichtman said. "There are some PACS that no longer exist. There are some potential defendants that we are still seriously looking at and might well sue shortly."

In November, the RPOF voluntarily returned $90,000 from Rothstein, Rosenfeld and Adler, $40,000 from Scott Rothstein and $5,000 from WAWW from our state account and an additional $10,000 from Scott Rothstein from our federal account to the U.S. Marshal Service to ensure that the victims of these crime are properly compensated. The law firm is currently attempting a double recovery of these funds.

We alerted RPOF spokeswoman Katie Betta who wrote us back a response:

"In November, the RPOF voluntarily returned $90,000 from Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, $40,000 from Scott Rothstein and $5,000 from WAWW [a Scott Rothstein company] from our state account and an additional $10,000 from Scott Rothstein from our federal account to the U.S. Marshal Service to ensure that the victims of these crime are properly compensated. The law firm is currently attempting a double recovery of these funds."

Staff changes for Greene

First campaign manager Josh Morrow abruptly leaves the Jeff Greene Democratic Senate campaign, and Jessica Vanden Berg comes on board. Now Jeff Greene's campaign is bring on board a new media consultant, Devine/Mulvey.

"Jef wants to bring in additional creative ideas to the media and the message,'' said Paul Blank, noting that his partner, media consultant Joe Trippi is still with the campaign. Tad Devine

Kendrick Meek plans bus tour

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek will kick off a 10-day bus tour next Wednesday in Orlando concluding with a hometown rally in Miami Aug. 14. 

"This week we took our campaign on the air, and next week we are taking it on the road by kicking off the Real Dem Express tour across Florida. This campaign has always been about fighting for middle-class families. By traveling up and down this state for months and completing our historic petition drive, we have built a top-notch grassroots campaign.The Real Dem Express tour will send a clear message -- there is just one Democrat in this race and only one candidate who will fight for middle-class Florida families," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.


Chamber backs McCollum, but AIF likes Scott too

Attorney General Bill McCollum went to the Port of Tampa Wednesday morning to tout what his campaign called a "major announcement" -- an endorsement from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The statewide business group said it's the first time it has taken sides in a governor's race.

Another group that lobbies for business, Associated Industries of Florida, is co-endorsing McCollum and Republican rival Rick Scott. AIF's Barney Bishop said Scott won the co-endorsement through his "conservative philosophy, which is one that all of the business community can support."

McCollum said he suspects Scott got AIF's nod because he spent several years on the group's board. "They didn't not support me," McCollum said. "I suspect they endorsed both of us because he's a board member." McCollum spokeswoman Kristy Campbell also noted that Scott owns a health care company, Solantic, that is represented on AIF's board of directors.

-- Steve Bousquet, Janet Zink

Florida staffers make the cut: The Hill's "50 Most Beautiful People"

Among them: Kaitlyn Gibson of Oviedo, scheduler and executive assistant for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.

The Hill notes Gibson worked in former Sen. Mel Martinez's Florida offices before moving to Washington. And it notes she's "just the latest in a small blitz of Mario Diaz-Balart staffers to make The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People list in recent years — a trend that’s upped the stakes of this year’s contest.

" 'It's kind of like an office rivalry now,' she says only half jokingly."