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220 posts from May 2012

May 30, 2012

Kathy Mears in talks to be incoming FL House Speaker Weatherford's staff chief

Getting word that incoming Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford might be in the process of making  the smartest of picks for his chief of staff: Kathy Mears, who last worked in high advisory posts for Gov. Charlie Crist. Before then, she was twice a top adviser to back-to-back Florida Senate presidents, Ken Pruitt and Tom Lee. She also worked for former House Speaker and current Congressman Dan Webster.

Mears has represented Weatherford in the private sector in her current job, at On 3 Public Relations, where she began working in 2011. Whether Mears was offered the job and whether she'll take it, we'll see. But it's a pretty good bet that she'll work in or for the House under Weatherford in some capacity. She knows the Legislature, the politics and the policy. Mears is also a key figure in a Tallahassee tradition: The Florida Press Skits, where her sketches often earn the loudest of laughs.

Neither Mears nor Weatherford could be reached.

So who loses out? Christina Johnson, On 3's founder. Here's the announcement of Mears' hiring at the firm in Feb. 2011:

Kathy Mears comes to On3PR having served over 15 years at the highest levels of state government. She has worked in the offices of the Florida House Speaker, two Florida Senate Presidents, and the Florida Governor, holding leadership roles in policy and communications.  Mears was most recently the Director of Communications for the Daniel Webster for United States Congress campaign in Central Florida’s 8th District. Webster defeated the Democrat incumbent by an impressive 18% vote margin.  

“Kathy Mears’ extensive background in public policy combined with her extraordinary communications and political experience will complement our current and future client’s strategic efforts,” said Johnson. “Expansion is exciting and even more so that I am going to be working with Kathy.” 

Planned Parenthood bashes Romney as bad for women in FL, IA, VA, DC ads

Planned Parenthood announced a $1.4 million batch of ads in FL, IA, VA and DC (Washington, really?) attacking Republican Mitt Rommey as bad for women's health, paychecks and freedoms. Here it is:

May 29, 2012

Marco Rubio's Gitmo trip redux

Picture 14

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio visited the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay — setting foot on Cuban soil for the first time in his life — in a solo fact-finding visit on Tuesday that the Cuban-American lawmaker cast as nothing more than typical congressional business as a novice member of the intelligence committee.

“Certainly, it was touching to be able to fly over the island from a distance and see it and know that’s the land that saw your parents and your grandparents born,” Rubio said on his return to Miami in a U.S. Navy C-12 aircraft.

“It’s a place I hope to visit one day soon — a free Cuba, one where the people of Cuba can chose their own leaders and chose their own future.”

Dozens of members of both houses of Congress have made the day trip to the outpost since President George W. Bush set it up soon after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the trip by Rubio, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956, took on a special significance as a dozen reporters thronged his return to ask about where it fit into is role as a potential vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney.

The senator swatted the question aside, calling it a routine stop as “a member of the intelligence committee,” noting that after not yet two years in the Senate, there are still “a lot of places I need to visit and get up to speed with.”

Rubio noted that he had planned to visit the base in August but canceled because his mother became ill. He declined to answer a question on whether, based on his briefings Tuesday, President Barack Obama was any closer to realizing his ambition in emptying the prison camps.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/29/2822478/sen-marco-rubio-makes-first-visit.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/29/2822478/sen-marco-rubio-makes-first-visit.html#storylink=cpy

The $50,000 mystery over the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, the RPOF and David Rivera

Buried amid the records compiled in the recently concluded criminal probe of Republican Congressman David Rivera is a $50,000 mystery.
Why did an obscure Republican organization pay $25,000 in 2006 to a defunct company founded by Rivera's mother? Why did a political consultant with close ties to Rivera receive another $25,000 on the very same day? And where did the money come from in the first place?

Further adding to the mystery: The Republican Party of Florida reportedly made a $50,000 payment to a Central Florida nonprofit group - money the group never received - on the same day the payments went to Rivera's mother and consultant. Are the payments connected?

These questions are among many left unanswered after an 18-month investigation of Rivera's finances by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, a probe prosecutors concluded last month without filing charges against the Miami lawmaker.

Investigators suspected Rivera of misusing campaign funds and concealing money he received while working as a consultant for a dog track seeking voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County. Rivera, who was elected to Congress in 2010 after eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, has denied any wrongdoing, and lambasted the investigation as flawed. He remains under investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

More here.

Marco Rubio defends immigrant tax-credit crackdown bill

Sen. Marco Rubio just returned from Gitmo and, after the pro-forma hailing of the troops and batting down of the VP shortlister questions from the press, also responded to criticisms from liberals who accuse him of hypocrisy for supporting an immigration proposal meant to help immigrant kids while quietly filing a bill that would require extra documentation for immigrants who apply for a child tax credit.

“I haven’t taken any heat because it’s the logical thing to do. It’s filed publicly. It’s available for everyone to see,” he said.

“The bill’s pretty straightforward. There are people in this country filing for child tax credits for children who don’t even live in the United States and it has been documented and it was never intended for that purpose,” he said. “It’s not even legal to do it now. All this does is say if you don’t have a Social Security Number, and you did file for the tax credit, you have to file paperwork proving that those children who are receiving the tax credit are here in the United States.

“A television station in Indianapolis did pretty extensive coverage of it. And the IRS inspector general says it’s illegal and the loophole should be closed. There’s bipartisan support for it. I know one of my colleagues from the Democratic side has also expressed an interest in it. It’s basically illegal to do it now. All this does is require documentation.”

FL Republican Chair: Bill Nelson "defends" right of dead, noncitizen voters

After Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson gave a speech and wrote a letter opposing Gov. Rick Scott's plan to "purge" the voter rolls, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry hit back with this written statement:


"This past Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement put up checkpoints to ensure drunk drivers did not threaten the safety of fellow motorists. Undoubtedly, many of the drivers who were met by police were, in fact, not driving drunk. However, we accept the notion that on such a heavily traveled holiday, a few moments of inconvenience to law-abiding drivers is worth it if we can ensure safe highways.


"Similarly, officials in Florida are undertaking a methodical and reasonable effort to maintain the security of Florida's voter rolls. While some who are citizens, and others who are not deceased, may be asked to simply participate in the verification process, thousands of these records do accurately reflect non-citizens and people who have died.


"In 2000, Florida's presidential outcome was determined by 537 votes. The idea that thousands of illegally registered voters could be in our electoral system is chilling. The people of Florida deserve to know that their elected and appointed officials who monitor elections will do everything possible to ensure each vote is legally cast and accurately counted. Anything less would make those officials derelict in their sworn obligation to our laws.


"Senator Nelson not only asks our public servants to ignore the threat to electoral integrity, but he implies those who meet their legal obligation to ensure honest elections are being discriminatory. Nelson's distortions and willingness to pit people against each other based on race demonstrates the worst kind of politics. His calls for officials to stop securing the nation's most fundamental expression of democracy - our elections, demonstrates why he must be defeated this November."

State back in court, fighting to privatize inmate health care

Gov. Rick Scott's administration was back in a familiar place Tuesday -- a Florida courtroom -- as it fights to privatize all medical care for the state's 100,000 prison inmates. Two labor unions are challenging the constitutionality of the Legislature's decision in 2011 to mandate the outsourcing of all inmate health care through budget language known as proviso, not by passing a stand-alone bill.

The state says this is legal. Two labor unions say it's not. The Florida Nurses Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued the state, employing many of the same arguments another union used last year in its successful challenge to the planned privatization of South Florida prisons.

Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll in Tallahassee listened to two hours of arguments but did not render a decision. Whichever way he rules is sure to be challenged at the First District Court of Appeal.

The talk in the courtroom was all legalese about the constitutionality of the proviso, but this case is really about jobs, and people such as Doreen Von Oven, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton. After six-and-a-half years there, she's earning $33,488 a year. She likes her job and worries about losing pay, benefits and job security if her job is privatized.

"I have a lot at stake," said Von Oven, whose husband retired from the prison system for medical reasons, which requires her to provide insurance for her family. "My own personal belief is that I don't believe that any part of incarceration should be a for-profit thing. We have a responsibility to take care of inmates and provide proper health care."      

-- Steve Bousquet

Bill Nelson to Rick Scott: Your noncitizen "purge" is a "concern"

From Sen. Bill Nelson to Rick Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

The Associated Press has written that former Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning said you initiated a hunt for non-U.S. citizens on state voter rolls and, according to the AP, Browning told you during a face-to-face meeting last year such was unnecessary, because people who register and falsely claim they are citizens can be charged with a crime. The AP further stated that you insisted he proceed.

Your list of 2,600 potential non-citizens reportedly included voters who were born in the U.S. and others who had become citizens. In the 2000 Florida election, at least 1,100 eligible voters were wrongly dropped from voting rolls in an attempt to purge a list of felons. Many of those who were dropped showed up to vote and were told they could not. And in a presidential election decided by 537 votes, that erroneous purge may have been a factor.

The public’s confidence in the right to vote is essential in a democracy. Attempts to purge the voter roll so soon after signing one of the nation’s most controversial voting laws raises concern, especially among young and minority voters.

I hope you will consider these thoughts and observations as you serve as chief executive of our state.


Bill Nelson

FL Poll: Charlie Crist 48, Rick Scott 34% in 2014 matchup

From Tallahassee lobbyist Wayne Bertsch, who found a poll showing the current Republican governor could lose to the last one. Intriguing? Sure. Just remember Charlie Crist (who is not yet a Democrat) was heavily favored to win the 2010 Senate race before Marco Rubio chased him out of the Republican Party and then beat him in the general election.

Here's Bertsch:

Supposing for a moment that the election for governor of Florida was held today and the candidates were.... Rick Scott, running as the Republican.... and Charlie Crist, running as the Democrat candidate... which one would you vote for?

Rick Scott 34.1%

Charlie Crist 48.1%

Other 5.0%

Don't Know/Refused 12.8%

 To break the numbers down, obviously Republicans stick with Gov. Scott at 60.3% and garnering only 21.6 of the unaffiliated voters. The pop factor is that Gov. Charlie Crist grabs 74.2% of the Democrat vote and 52.2% of the unaffiliated voters.

 A few other breakdowns of interest:

African-Americans - 88.1% support Crist

Whites - 43.4% Crist, 39.4% Scott

Hispanic - 37.9% Scott, 35.3 Crist, while 23% stated Do Not Know.

 Gender: Crist leads Men 45% to Scott's 39%.  Women 51% support Crist to Scott's 30%.

 As for Age breakdowns, Crist led all categories: 18-29: 52% to 27%; 30-44: 44% to 38%; 45-59: 55% to 28%; 60+: 45% to 38%

 The information above was polled of likely registered Florida voters between May 23-25, 2012 of 802 respondents and a margin of error of +/- 3.46% by Florida Opinion Research. To learn more about Florida Opinion Research visit www.floridaomnibussurvey.com

Arrests, domestic violence, blog wars. Yup. Another day in Broward's vicious GOP congressional race

The Shark Tank Blog, which bags Congressional candidate Karen Harrington, recently took a bite of her fellow Republican, Ozzie deFaria, for two arrests in 2005 and 2006 when he scuffled twice with his estranged wife's boyfriend. The full blog and links to the arrest reports are here.

The "court records from his 2005 Domestic Violence case and his 2006 Arrest for Repeat Domestic Violence and Battery are painting a very disturbing pattern of domestic violence and perhaps some serious anger management issues," blogger Javier Manjarres opines.

DeFaria's campaign is pushing back, blaming Harrington for The Shark Tank's blog (which Manjarres denies) while pointing to yet another website, called truthaboutjaviermanjarres.com, that attacks Manjarres.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom the Republicans want to topple, must be grinning at the internal Republican conflict.

Following are links and excerpts of letters to Harrington from deFaria and his ex, Elaine Seibold, as well as Manjarres' response ( Download From deFaria and Download From Seibold

Continue reading "Arrests, domestic violence, blog wars. Yup. Another day in Broward's vicious GOP congressional race" »