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282 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Companies with ties to Florida Crystals pump $100k into Rick Scott campaign

It was a $215,500 pay day on Tuesday for Republican Rick Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work.

Of that total for the GOP gubernatorial nominee, $5,000 was from Tampa developer Richard Corbett, $50,000 was from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Jacksonville and $20,000 was from Automated Health Care Solutions in Miramar.

Another $100,000 was from five different agribusiness companies with ties to Florida Crystals, a sugar company run by the Fanjul family of Palm Beach County.

Four of those companies -- Agro-Industrial Management, America's Export Corp, Florida Pioneer Investments, and Sun Corn Inc. -- share an attorney (Armando Tabernilla) and a West Palm Beach address with Florida Crystals.

Quick side note here: This cycle, at least $1 million in political contributions has come from checks written from that one of address, 626 N. Dixie Highway.

Of that total, here are the biggest beneficiaries:

Continue reading "Companies with ties to Florida Crystals pump $100k into Rick Scott campaign" »

In ad, Joe Garcia bashes David Rivera for incident on Palmetto Expressway

On the heels of the campaign of Republican state Rep. David Rivera going on TV, rival Democrat Joe Garcia is on the air attacking Rivera for a 2002 crash with a mail truck on the Palmetto Expressway.

Here's the the ad, titled "News," which calls Rivera "an accident waiting to happen":

The ad refers to a local CBS News piece and a Miami Herald story about a 2002 accident on the Palmetto between Rivera and a Liberty Mail truck.

Continue reading "In ad, Joe Garcia bashes David Rivera for incident on Palmetto Expressway" »

David Rivera launches two TV ads: one positive, one negative

A week after an electrioneering group put up several spots attacking Republican congressional hopeful David Rivera, the state representative is up with two ads of his own -- one portraying himself as a champion of balanced budgets and the other bashing Democratic opponent Joe Garcia.

The message Rivera's camp is trying to get across: He's "one of us," while Garcia is "one of them."

Rivera's positive ad, titled "Pocketbook," features Rivera calling Washington spending "out of control" and touting his experience as House budget chief in Tallahassee balancing the state budget as mandated by law.

The negative ad, "One of Them," tries to tie Garcia to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who held a fundraiser for Garcia over the weekend, and to Rep. Charlie Rangel, the beleaguered New York Democrat who has raised thousands for Garcia's campaign in 2008.

Continue reading "David Rivera launches two TV ads: one positive, one negative" »

Senate brain transplant: Mike Haridopolos hires, says no more fires

 So much for a Senate brain drain. Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos just hired two top Capitol finance gurus to replace a few top staffers who were let go. (More here) on the background. Haridopolos made the announcement here:

With just 47 days to go before our organizational session, I wanted to update you on some personnel moves I am planning in the Florida Senate.  I’m pleased today to announce four new hires and two promotions that will further enhance the work we do for the taxpayers of our great state.

 First, I have asked Jerry McDaniel to assume a lead role in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Jerry currently serves as the Governor’s deputy chief of staff and director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget.  Jerry brings extensive knowledge of the budget process to his new position.  He has more than 30 years of public service experience including serving three Attorneys General, the House of Representatives and two state agencies.  Jerry is a graduate of Florida State University.  His start date is still to be determined.

Continue reading "Senate brain transplant: Mike Haridopolos hires, says no more fires" »

Alcee Hastings takes on the Tea Party and Ronald Reagan

Rep. Alcee Hastings is declining the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party's invite to debate -- but says it's not out of fear.

"Your reaction to my refusal to attend your debate will probably be that I am afraid to debate," he says in a letter he sent to Tea Partiers -- and the press. "Nothing could be further from the truth. 

"The simple reason that I refuse is that I do not think that any of your 41 members or your intended audience are going to vote for me in this election. Instead, I choose to spend my time and efforts trying to turn out the people that I have been privileged and honored to represent over the past 18 years. 

"Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, we have very different ideas. Your basic premise is to take your country back. I want our country to move forward. You represent the “party of me” while Democrats and I represent the 'party of we.'  Two great Americans proved this:  John F. Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,' and Ronald Reagan said, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' "

The Broward Democrat has a Republican challenger, Bernard Sansaricq, a Haiti native who was president of the Haitian Senate in 1994.

Flip flop alert: 7 legislators backing Scott demanded he release testimony

What a difference a month makes. Of the dozens of campaign co-chairs Republican Rick Scott touted in his press statement last night, seven of them were among a list of legislators who called on him just a month ago to release his "secret" testimony in the Solantic case or "withdraw from the race" because "you will become a liability."

Scott continues to refuse to release the testimony.

"We ask that you release your deposition and all documents related to and concerning lawsuits against Solantic in order to provide the transparency the public wants and deserves,'" wrote Sen. Joe Negron, Reps. Clay Ford, Alan Hays, Dave Murzin, Scott Plakon, Trudi Williams and Ritch Workman on Aug. 10

"By keeping your involvement in this case shrouded in secrecy, you will become a major liability for Republican candidates on this year's ballot if your campaign is successful. If you remain unwilling to release these materials and answer questions on these issues, we believe you should immediately withdraw from the race for the good of our party and the conservative cause in Florida."

Here's the full letter sent to Scott and the Scott campaign's response:

Continue reading "Flip flop alert: 7 legislators backing Scott demanded he release testimony " »

Jeb calls Marco's message 'Reagan-esque'

Former Gov. Jeb Bush was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today talking about being a "huge fan" of U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio.


Crist gets a 'D' from anti-tax group

The Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, has slapped Gov. Charlie Crist with a 'D' in its annual gubernatorial report card. Crist has repeatedly touted his 'A' grade from the group in 2008.

But since then, the governor has switched fiscal gears and supported large tax increases on Floridians. Crist signed into law a $2.2 billion increase in 2009, which included a $1 per pack increase on cigarette consumers and more than $1 billion in new "fees" for vehicle licenses, fishing licenses, and other items. Then, exhibiting amnesia, Crist declared in his 2010 State of the State address: "My core principle is to not raise taxes." Crist continues to support property tax relief, but it is not clear that such relief would lead tolower taxes overall. A proposed "tax swap" in 2008 would have reduced local property taxes but increased state-level taxes by perhaps a greater amount.

That "tax swap" was spearheaded by none other than Crist's Republican rival for the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio (and was belatedly backed by Crist after a flip-flop.) The Rubio campaign left that part out of its press release mocking the governor's falling grade.

It's also worth noting that Republican standard bearers like Senate President Jeff Atwater -- the GOP nominee for chief financial officer -- and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos signed off on the aforementioned budget.


Fraud by the book? Scott's health care company featured in business ethics textbook

1273635 The book is "Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases" and it's included on a number of college syllabi across the country, including this class at Florida Atlantic University.

Rick Scott is featured in Case #13: The Healthcare Company: Learning From Past Mistakes.

Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA, which the textbook describes as a company where "health-care services and staffing ... often took a back seat to the focus on profits." The case study describes Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Charlotte as the focal point of a federal investigation that resulted in $1.7 billion in Medicare fraud fines.

The textbook points out that federal investigators alleged that Scott and another executive "were briefed routinely on issues relating to Medicare reimbursement claims that the government charged were fraudulent." Scott resigned from the company and was never charged with any crimes.

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Cuba's plans to start drilling for oil raise fears on the Florida side of the straits

Cuba is poised to begin drilling for oil and gas off its coast in ocean depths beyond that of the Deepwater Horizon, industry analysts say -- causing renewed consternation about relations with the U.S.'s Cold War antagonist.

Will it lead to talks with the country?