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237 posts from November 2011

November 30, 2011

Herman Cain's 'a distracter,' says Allen West

From WMAL:

WASHINGTON -- Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain has become a distraction in the race, says GOP Congressman Allen West.

"Beyond reassessing his campaign, he probably needs to understand that he is a distracter for what's going on right now and we should move on," said West, a Republican congressman who represents Florida.

West says Cain is no longer the front-running alternative to Romney -- a role once held by candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, and that now belongs to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"I think it's going to be a two-man race when you boil it down," West told the WMAL Morning Majority.

More here

Sean Hannity's claim about Sen. Nelson faces the Truth-O-Meter

Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack announced his U.S. Senate bid in a Nov. 28, 2011, interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Mack -- with some help from Hannity -- tried to sell the message that the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, moves in lockstep with President Barack Obama.
"I am going to run for the United States Senate because frankly, I think the people of Florida have had enough," Mack said. "They've had enough of every time they turn around, Sen. Nelson is supporting and helping Barack Obama with Barack Obama's agenda of more government whether it's helping him with Obamacare. You know, Sen. Nelson was there right by Obama's side. Whether it was the stimulus, again, Sen. Nelson was right by Obama's side to make sure that was passed. Whether it was trillions of dollars in more spending, more tax increases, you name it on down the line. Sen. Nelson has been one of Barack Obama's go-to guys in the Senate."
This web ad, paid for by Friends of Connie Mack at lockstepliberals.com, shows Obama and Nelson embracing. And Hannity suggested that Nelson, first elected in 2000, is also in lockstep with his party:
"Well, the other thing is he's voted with the Democrats in Congress nearly 95 percent of the time. I was looking up his record," Hannity said. "He praised Obama during the last election. Now he doesn't want to be seen with Obama, which is pretty interesting. And I think the thing that has resonated nationally ..."

Did Hannity get his figure right -- and did he omit some crucial context? PolitiFact explores.



Gov. Scott's responsibility for tuition increases and pushing the envelope of communications

Gov. Rick Scott's office is attempting to distance itself from the higher-ed protests around the state, particularly the fingers pointing blame at him for this year's tuition increase. But a memo sent Tuesday by his communications director once again makes some points that others (including some officials inside Scott's executive office) will not.

Earlier this month, communications director Brian Burgess sent a memo hoping to avoid some mild embarrassment for his boss insisting that Solantic, the Florida-based chain of health care clinics started by Scott, was not relocating its corporate headquarters to Tennessee. The company won't make the same claim.

On Tuesday, Burgess sought to combat some seemingly* sloppy reporting that characterized the 15 percent tuition increase this year as "Gov. Rick Scott's tuition increase." But Burgess' attempt to list "the facts" -- including one that "Gov. Scott had nothing to do with any tuition hike" -- seems to again blur the line taxpayers might expect between spin from a privately-funded campaign and communications from an office they subsidize.

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Miccosukee Tribe sues their ex-lawyer Lehtinen for malpractice

n a sour ending to a longtime relationship, the Miccosukee Indians have accused their former lawyer, Dexter Lehtinen, of committing malpractice when he advised the tribe on income-tax issues stemming from the distribution of hundreds of millions in gambling profits to members.

The tribe says in a lawsuit that it paid Lehtinen $50 million as general counsel over the past two decades, but that following his advice has landed the Miccosukees in a costly legal fight with the Internal Revenue Service.

The tribe, which is seeking class-action status in the suit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court Monday, asserts that Lehtinen’s “negligent misrepresentation” has exposed about 250 members to tax assessments, interest and penalties “in the millions of dollars.”

The potential class could grow: The West Miami-Dade tribe has about 600 members, including minors. Story here.

November 29, 2011

Head of university system asked to investigate FAMU's response to hazing allegations

Claims by ousted Florida A&M University band director Julian White that administrators offered little support for his anti-hazing efforts are of "grave concern" and should be investigated, the chairwoman of the Florida Board of Governors said Tuesday.

In a letter to the chairman of FAMU's Board of Trustees, Ava Parker called on State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan to investigate "whether university administration took appropriate action to address the hazing activities referenced by Dr. White and any hazing activities in the student population at large."

FAMU President James Ammons fired White last week for failing to eradicate hazing in the band during his 13-year tenure. Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators said 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion was hazed prior to his death hours after performing in a halftime show in Orlando. His cause of death may not be known for three months.

Continue reading "Head of university system asked to investigate FAMU's response to hazing allegations" »

Stagnant Mitt Romney campaign seeks votes, cash in Florida

Stagnant in the polls and under withering assault for flip-flopping, Republican Mitt Romney campaigned Tuesday in Miami and Tampa Bay with a simple message: President Barack Obama has failed and he won’t.

Romney, trying to sound more like Obama’s general election rival rather than a candidate struggling to lock down the GOP nomination, avoided talking about hot-button social issues like immigration or the ever-shifting primary that could see Herman Cain drop out soon. Instead the former Massachusetts governor ignored reporters’ questions and focused on the economy in a state with stubbornly high unemployment and home foreclosures and which could decide the nomination on Jan. 31.

“We have a president that doesn’t understand the power of trade for enhancing American employment and American prosperity,” Romney, with cargo ships behind him, said at the Port of Tampa before heading to a $2,500 per-person fundraiser at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Continuing a pattern for campaign stops in Florida, Romney refused to answer any questions that might steer him away from his preferred message.

“There’s not a press avail today. This is a chance to meet people,’’ the candidate said, signing autographs and posing for pictures while aides insisted reporters keep their distance.

“I think President Obama’s a nice guy. But I don’t think he understands America. I don’t think he understands our economy,” Romney said at his first stop, family-owned Conchita Foods in Medley.

Romney’s Florida visit comes at a crucial time.

More here

Analysis: Senate's redistricting maps favor some GOP, hurt others, pack Dems

Despite creating political maps using no political data, two redistricting proposals by Florida’s Republican-led Senate favor Republicans, consolidate voters in Democratic districts and compress minority seats, a Herald/Times analysis shows.

But the maps released on Monday by the staff of the state Senate Reapportionment Committee also put incumbent Republicans —such as U.S. Reps. David Rivera of Miami, Steve Southerland of Panama City and Tom Rooney of Palm Beach — in less reliable districts than the ones they represent today. See Congressional map with performance data here. See Senate map with performance data here.

Senate map 1Senate leaders defended the maps Tuesday, saying they adhere to new constitutionally imposed rules that prohibit lawmakers from drawing districts that favor incumbents or political parties while also protecting the voting strength of racial and ethnic minorities.

“There wasn’t an intent to put more or fewer Democrats or Republicans in any seat because we don’t have party data in our software,’’ said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, head of the Senate redistricting committee. “We followed the law and it inconvenienced some Republicans and it inconvenienced some Democrats. No matter how a line is drawn in a House, Senate, or congressional district, someone is going to see a boogeyman behind the line.” Read story here.

Bret Baier Q&A shows why Mitt Romney shies away from media asking about his record

Mitt Romney has received his share of grief for ducking reporters, with fellow Republican opponent Jon Huntsman releasing a “Scared Mittless” web ad that poked fun at the candidate's penchant for avoiding the news media.

Tonight, Fox News’ Bret Baier showed why Romney doesn’t do too many interviews. It took a good amount of digging for Baier to show that Romney really has no plan to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. Romney doesn’t want them hunted down. But he doesn’t want them to stay. He wants them to apply for citizenship and go home. Which they won’t do because they’re here illegally.

This Mitt Romney wasn't the calm Mitt Romney of the debates.

At times during the interview, Romney was icily peevish. He laughed mirthlessly, or denied video evidence showed him shifting his positions or suggested he was espousing clear positions – which nevertheless required clarification. When pushed, he told Baier at one point that people should read his book.

Just what everyone wants: A candidate whose positions require homework, if not a concordance.

Baier noted a few of Romney’s flip flops: climate change, abortion, immigration, gay rights.

Romney: “Your list is just not accurate. We’re going to have to be better informed about my views on issues.”

Baier pushed, noting the stances Romney has taken in previous video interviews.

Romney: “I’m glad that the Democratic ads are breaking through and you guys at Fox are seeing them.”

Baier: “Jon Huntsman has a couple ads that do the exact same thing.”

Romney: “There’s no question people are going to take snippets and things out of context and try and show there are differences where in some cases there are not.” Romney acknowledges he changed on abortion, just like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Baier then asked about a 2006 Bloomberg article in which Romney's immigration position seemed to conflict with his new stance.

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Grand jury needs more time in investigation involving state senator, billboard company

State Sen. Greg Evers, former Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos and a trio of DOT officials based in Chipley testified in front of a grand jury today about their role in allowing a Panhandle billboard company to cut down thousands of trees along Interstate 10 without paying the required fees. (Background here.)

Dave McCurdy, the general manager at Bill Salter Advertising and a friend of Evers', has also testified.

But state attorney Willie Meggs said more time is needed and said he plans to ask for a 90-day extension oof the grand jury's term, which ends Monday.

After winning the permits, Bill Salter, 80, and his wife, Helen, contributed $500 each to Evers in February 2010 as did a pair of companies registered to the couple's Milton home. Bill Salter also gave the Florida Republican Party $5,000 in June. Helen Salter said neither she nor her husband would comment on the investigation.

"That's none of your business," she said earlier this month when we assked about the contributions.

FAMU president cancels meeting with newspaper amid questions over drum major's death

FAMU President James Ammons canceled a Tuesday interview with the editorial board of the Tallahassee Democrat following the death of a drum major after a Nov. 19 football game, the paper reported this afternoon.

He cited legal advice and the ongoing investigation into the death of Robert Champion, which authorities have said followed an undescribed hazing activity. Read background about the fallout from his death and the subsequent firing of the longtime FAMU band director, who wants his job back. A cause of death may not be known for three months.

Ammons a provided a statement to the paper in which he stressed the culture of hazing at the university will change and that he will meet with the student body at some point next week. A copy of Ammons' statement to the paper was posted on the FAMU website. It reads as follows:

Continue reading "FAMU president cancels meeting with newspaper amid questions over drum major's death" »