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282 posts from September 2010

September 29, 2010

Rubio getting help from Rove

A new political committee with ties to Republican strategist Karl Rove is starting to throw money around, including nearly $250,000 to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio. The committee, American Crossroads, reported the so-called independent expenditure to the Federal Elections Commission yesterday. The group can't coordinate with the Rubio campaign but can spend as much as it wants.

ABC News calls American Crossroads "a pro-Republican "super PAC" that "has emerged as a powerful force in key U.S. Senate races this election season, dominating groups of its kind in fundraising and spending.... The group is also the most prominent example of the new campaign finance dynamic created in the wake of two Supreme Court decisions earlier this year that lifted some limits on campaign spending and allowed corporations and interest groups to funnel money directly into political campaigns."

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Police union ad: Rick Scott is cops "worst nightmare"

Alarmed at Republican Rick Scott's plan to trim $1 billion from the state prison budget, the Florida Police Benevolent Association announced it's running a 30-second spot that makes the gubernatorial candidate look soft on crime. At the heart of the ad is this Herald/Times story on what experts say is an "unrealistic" plan by Scott. Equally unrealistic: That Scott's plan would lead to the mass release of prisoners. The Legislature and the public wouldn't allow it.

So the union (which recently backed away from a misleading chain email against Scott) is fighting an unrealistic plan with an unrealistic ad, which strongly features a beefy African-American inmate wringing his hands in delight as a guy wearing a Rick Scott shirt releases him and his buddies. It's not as if it's overtly racist imagery, though; behind him, a mix of white and black guys high-five at the chance to commit mayhem. (Speaking of race and prisons, about half of the state's 100,000 prison population is black. But African Americans make up about 14 of the general Florida population. No one seems to want to talk about that. One nation, under surveillance and incarceration.....)

Featuring the de rigueur low minor chords of an attack ad, the spot closes on a darkly funny note when a gold-grilled Hispanic inmate uses Rick Scott's slogan against him: Let's get to work. Ouch

 

Kendrick Meek unleashes pro-Bush, pro-Palin, pro-drilling Charlie Crist

So much for moving to the left, guv. Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and the Florida Dems want voters to know that newly minted independent Charlie Crist fashioned himself a conservative Republican before he left the party this year. The ad is another indication that Crist looking more and more like political toast (more here and here)

September 28, 2010

GOP special interests get to work and raise $1 million for Scott's political committee

The big guns are back, this time writing checks to Republican Rick Scott's political committee, "Let's Get to Work."  Since the primary, Scott has raised $1 million for his 527 committee from an assortment of the very special interests he berated Attorney General Bill McCollum for being too close to.

The checks come from health care, sugar, truckers and even the perennial favorite, the National Safety Commission, (which has had that comfortable contract with the Department of Highway Safety to provide drivers license training to teens.)

The Florida Liberty Fund, the political committee controlled by Rep. Dean Cannon, the designated House speaker, forked over $250,000. Another $250,000 came from Michael B. Fernandez, a Coral Gables executive who manages a private equity firm that specializes in investing in health care services companies. Florida Crystals, the sugar cane grower who wants U.S. Sugar's Everglades deal tanked, gave $100,000.

Many of Florida's traditional Republican brass contributed as well: Wayne Huizenga, the Waste Management and AutoNation mogul, gave $100,000. Green Solar Transportation, the mysterious start-up that indirectly gave to McCollum via Cannon and Sen. Mike Haridopolos, also gave $100,000. (The company's office constantly answers with a "we're too busy to answer" message.) Dick Nunis, the former Disney exec, gave $10,000. Blue Cross and Blue Shield gave $50,000 and Incepture Inc., another healthcare consultant, gave $50,000.

Scott reported spending the money primarily on a long list of consultants, including political and media advisors.

Democrat Alex Sink's political committee, Hold Them Accountable, has raised a total of $61,500 -- $57,500 of it since the primary. The largest contribution comes from Coastal Construction Group, a Miami-based general contractor. That committee has reported spending nothing yet.

Video: Crist tells unemployed workers he's looking into request to change benefits

A group of about 50 unemployed workers and advocates marched on Tallahassee Tuesday to urge Gov. Charlie Crist to sign an executive order changing the way the state calculates unemployment benefits to what is known as the "alternative base" -- which is used in some other states. Advocates say it could mean as many as 44,000 Floridians who lost jobs in part-time work, those with dependents and workers who left jobs for family reasons to be granted unemployment benefits.

"Obviously, my heart bleeds for you,'' Crist told them, at a meeting outside his office. He said he is asking the Florida Department of Labor if it is possible to adjust the rule "to be of help to you."

Democrat Alex Sink, who is running to replace Crist, was asked if she supported the workers' request for the change. Her answer: "I have to study it" because it will have an impact on the ability of businesses to pay.

Vote to lift Cuba travel ban put on hold

Backers of lifting the ban on travel to Cuba had been hoping for a favorable vote tomorrow out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but chairman Howard L. Berman just called off the vote.

"It now appears that Wednesday will be the last day that Congress is in session before an extended district work period. That makes it increasingly likely that our discussion of the bill will be disrupted or cut short by votes or other activity on the House floor," the California Democrat said in a statement. "Accordingly, I am postponing consideration of H.R. 4645 until a time when the Committee will be able to hold the robust and uninterrupted debate this important issue deserves. I firmly believe that when we debate and vote on the merits of this legislation, and I intend for it to be soon, the right to travel will be restored to all Americans." 

The National Foreign Trade Council and USA*Engage had just sent out an email in support of the bill, which would lift restrictions on travel by American citizens to Cuba and U.S. agricultural and humanitarian exports to the country. Supporters had considered it the best chance at getting the travel ban lifted -- particularly if Republicans take control of the House in November and Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen becomes committee chair.

Immigration advocates bash GOP on TV

The Service Employees International Union, Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign, and America's Voice are launching Spanish-language radio ads today that bash the Republican party for opposing immigration reform. The $300,000 in ads will run in nine media markets across the country, including Miami and Orlando. SEIU is a major supporter of Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek.

Here's the script:

What would you do if a group of politicians were denying your hopes, your dreams?

Thousands of us have taken to the streets to fight for what’s right: access to a college education and a path to citizenship…

We’re the undocumented students of the DREAM Act…the “soñadores”…

Without papers, and without fear, we fight so our generation doesn’t get left behind.

But who opposed this bill?  Who wants to quash our dreams?

Republicans. The same people who opposed the extension of unemployment benefits.

Republicans.  Who try to deny immigrant rights in Arizona and other states.

Republicans.  Who always seem to stand with big corporations against working families.

President Obama, the Armed Forces, Chambers of Commerce, universities and a majority of the public are on our side.

And they need our help.

This November 2nd, in Florida – vote for the candidates who support our families, and make our dreams come true.

Video: Sink says of Scott's education claims: 'I don't think it's honest'

Democrat Alex Sink accused Rick Scott of failing to explain how he will pay for his corporation income tax cuts and his plan to reduce state dependence on local property taxes to pay for education. "He can go out all day long and say he'll eliminate certain taxes and yet not tell all the people of Florida what he would cut as a result,'' she said at a press conference with Miami Republican Sen. Alex Villalobos, who has endorsed her. "I don't think that's right. I don't think it's honest. So he has a lot of explaining to do."

Sink also said she will not expand the existing voucher program but she will not commit to eliminating it either.

"Rick Scott's education 'plan'  calls for deliberately ripping off $1.4 billion from local public schools and taking local control away from parents and teachers and hand it over to Tallahassee bureaucrats,'' said Sink spokeswoman Kyra Jennings. "Scott's so-called education plan is a fraud, just like his so-called economic plan, and just like Scott himself." In a statement, she cited a series of media reports that have raised questions about Scott's plan:

Continue reading "Video: Sink says of Scott's education claims: 'I don't think it's honest'" »

Florida earns a grim distinction: The largest increase in poverty

The Economic Policy Institute reports that although Mississippi and Arkansas have the highest poverty rates in the nation -- 21.9 percent and 18.8 percent respectively -- "Florida saw the largest increase in poverty -- 2.8 percentage points -- over the course of the recession, new Census data shows. 

"Poverty was lowest in New Hampshire (8.5%) and Alaska (9.0%), but even in those states at least one in 12 residents lived in poverty."

Ron Klein-bashing group is among the rise of the "Super PACS'

The Washington Post today reports on the rise of the "super PACs" independent groups that are able to "both raise and spend money at a pace that threatens to eclipse the efforts of political parties."

Among the groups -- We Love USA -- which as the Herald reported last week, is targeting Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, facing a challenge from Allen West.