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220 posts from May 2012

May 29, 2012

Florida Congressional Democrats write letter to Gov. Rick Scott

Six Democratic members of Congress in Florida wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Scott criticizing the state's effort to search for noncitizens on the voter rolls. The members who signed the letter are Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor and Frederica Wilson. Download Deutch letter here.

The letter says that any efforts to update the rolls should be done with the "utmost caution and transparency" and questions the timing since it is three months before the primary.

Connie Mack announces Florida co-chairs Bense, Tate, Jeb Jr....

From a press release:

MIAMI – Congressman Connie Mack today released the names of several respected statewide GOP leaders who will serve as the Mack Campaign Co-Chairs.
In announcing the names, Congressman Mack stated:
“I am proud that these distinguished conservative leaders from all across Florida have agreed to lead my campaign to balance America's budget and stand up for America's constitutional rights. These are the areas in which Bill Nelson has most failed us, and I am confident that with this team, we will be able to defeat the Obama-Nelson liberal agenda.  Our leadership group is representative of several different Republican movements in the last decade, and they will help us take our message to all precincts in all corners of Florida.”
Mack Statewide Co-Chairs
Allan Bense
Speaker, Florida House of Representatives, 2004-2006
Panama City, FL
Jeb Bush, Jr.
Chief Operating Officer, Jeb Bush & Associates
Chairman, Friends of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
Miami, FL
Charles Bronson
Florida Agriculture Commissioner, 2001-2006
Kissimmee, FL
Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos
Board Certified Physician in Family Practice
Melbourne, FL
Bill McCollum
Florida Attorney General, 2007-2011
U.S. House of Representatives, 1981 - 2001
Orlando, Florida
Miya Burt-Stewart
Founding Member of M.D. Stewart and Associates, Inc.
Managing Partner of M.D. Stewart Development Group, Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Stanley Tate
Chairman, Tate Capital
North Miami, FL
Senator John Thrasher
Florida State Senate
RPOF Chairman, 2010 - 2011
Speaker, Florida House of Representatives, 1998 - 2000
Jacksonville, FL

World War II vet in Broward on list of potential "noncitizen" voters

Bill Internicola has lived in the United States 91 years and fought for his country in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, but according to the state of Florida he may not be a citizen.

Internicola received a letter in May from the Broward Supervisor of Elections stating that it received "information from the State of Florida that you are not a United States citizen; however you are registered to vote."

"I went crazy," Internicola said today in an interview near his Davie home. "I couldn't believe it. I called [the Supervisor of Elections office] and said what are you crazy? I've been voting since I was 18 years old."

Internicola shared his story today at a press conference with two Democratic members of Congress who represent portions of Broward: Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings.

Internicola sent Broward a copy of his Army discharge papers. He is one of six voters on the list who have provided paperwork to prove they are citizens, said Mary Cooney, a spokeswoman for the supervisor.

Broward was following the direction of the state Division of Elections after it forwarded the names of more than 2,600 registered voters to check for their citizenship status. Miami-Dade had the largest contingent while Broward had about 259. Voters have 30 days from the date they receive the letter to provide proof of citizenship or they will be removed from the rolls.

Deutch called the state-led effort a "great injustice".

"Bill Internicola is the face of Gov. Scott's request to purge our voter rolls," he said.

Hastings said the state was engaging in "voter suppression" and by not sending a pre-stamped envelope to these voters to mail back their proof of citizenship the state was using a "back-door poll tax."

In an interview, Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes said she is complying with the state's direction but does not believe that the bulk of the voters who have yet to respond to her letter are non-citizens. She called for the state to stop the process and vet the list more carefully. 




Florida's congressional Democrats hold their own Medicare meeting, no Republicans allowed

Democratic Reps. Alcee L. Hastings, Corrine Brown, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, and Frederica Wilson are scheduled to meet this week to talk about Medicare -- but they're not inviting the Republicans in the Florida delegation. 

Hastings, the Democratic chairman of the delegation, says he'll host the meeting Thursday morning "to highlight the importance of Medicare to Florida, and the impact of Medicare changes on Florida's beneficiaries."

We've reached out to Democrats and Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation, but no word yet on why GOP Reps. Sandy Adams, Gus Bilarakis, Vern Buchanan, Ander Crenshaw, Mario Diaz-Balart, Connie Mack, John Mica, Jeff Miller, Rich Nugent, Bill Posey, David Rivera, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross, Steve Southerland, Cliff Stearns, Daniel Webster, Alan West or Bill Young weren't invited.

George Zimmerman prosecutor backs George LeMieux for Senate

Not sure if this helps, hurts or makes no difference. Stll, it's interesting, given the attention over the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The press release:

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – George LeMieux today announced the endorsement of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey of the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

“For years, I have known George LeMieux and seen the positive impact he has had on our state and nation,” said State Attorney Angela Corey. “During his time as the Deputy Attorney General, George fought for justice and successfully argued a death penalty case before the US Supreme Court. While serving in the Senate, George LeMieux made reducing the debt his top priority and showed true leadership. George has always been a friend to Northeast Florida and I look forward to seeing him serve us once again in the US Senate."

“For more than 30 years, Angela has worked to make Northeast Florida safer - first as an Assistant State Attorney and now as the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit,” said George LeMieux.  “As former Deputy Attorney General, I know how hard our prosecutors work. Angela is widely known for her fairness, integrity, and work ethic and I am honored to have her support.”

Corey joins a strong team in Jacksonville dedicated to George LeMieux’s election to the US Senate, including former RPOF Chairman Tom Slade, former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, Duval County Sheriff John H. Rutherford, State Senator Stephen Wise, City Councilmen William Bishop, Matt Schellenberg, and Bill Gulliford, and Public Defender Matt Shirk. 

This announcement follows four consecutive landslide straw poll victories, the endorsement of Senator Tom Coburn, Herman Cain, 34 sitting Florida legislators, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the National Tax Limitation Committee PAC, former Mayor Rich Crotty, conservative radio host Joyce Kaufman, and the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

Obama forgot (or just ignored) the Castro Rule of Florida campaigning

Of the simple rules in Florida elections, few stand out like this one: Don’t look wobbly over Castro — especially in an election year.

President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t seem to get the memo.

The administration granted the niece of Fidel Castro a visa to speak at a gay-rights summit in California last week. Mariela Castro repaid the kindness by engaging in the same type of Orwellian and hypocritical doubletalk as her uncle and father, Cuban President Raul Castro.

Then she made sure to bang in the final public-relations coffin nail.

"I would vote for President Obama," she said, according to Agence France-Presse. "I think he’s sincere and speaks from the heart."

Count that de facto endorsement of Obama as an independent expenditure for his challenger, Mitt Romney. The Republican’s campaign made sure to denounce the Castro clan at every turn.

AFP noted that Castro’s trip has been denounced by "opposition Republicans." But it utterly failed to mention that Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward congresswoman, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (the only statewide elected Democrat) also opposed the granting of her visa.

Nelson specifically raised the issue of a wrongfully jailed American in Cuba.

"Allowing Raul’s daughter to come to the U.S. when the regime still holds Alan Gross makes no sense," Nelson said.

Privately, some of Obama’s biggest Florida supporters agree. They just can’t fathom this. It’s not as if Castro is some wayward child. She’s a face and mouthpiece of the dictatorship.

Obama’s defenders are quick to counter with two points: 1) During President George W. Bush’s term, Castro was allowed to travel three times to the United States and 2) Cuban-hardliners who opposed the visa opposed Obama anyway. So it was a wash.


Column here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/27/2819980/obama-forgot-to-read-the-castro.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Progress in counties' dispute with state over Medicaid, but lawsuit still looming

County officials across Florida say they appreciate a new level of openness with the state regarding a long-running dispute about unpaid Medicaid bills.

But for most it's too little, too late.

Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler said she spent two years meeting with Agency for Health Care Administration officials about the error-prone billing system that caused the county to question a chunk of the bills it received. But nothing ever got done, and Broward's backlog grew by tens of millions.

When Gov. Rick Scott signed into law new rules that require counties to pay up — to the tune of $325.5 million — he also directed AHCA to meet with counties to determine what they truly owed. Only what is agreed upon will have to be paid, the governor said.

Even with those assurances, 53 counties and the Florida Association of Counties sued the state and asked that the law be declared unconstitutional. Wexler said she isn't convinced that more conversations with AHCA will be enough to solve the problem.

"I did this," she said. "I went down this road before. We've had these conversations. We brought the documentation. We brought the data."

Read more here.

Marco Rubio makes first Cuba visit -- to Guantanamo Bay

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is on his way to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, for a one-day visit. It is the first trip to the island for the Cuban-American lawmaker, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1956.

Rubio is going in his capacity as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his office says. He'll conduct oversight of the facility, tour the base, and meet with the commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay. It will "allow Sen. Rubio an opportunity to better understand the role Guantanamo Bay plays in U.S. detention operations, and examine how the military commission process for trying the terrorists housed there is proceeding," his office said.

He'll also hear from the Navy on the strategic value of the base to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. He'll also tour the Expeditionary Legal Complex, where military tribunals of detainees are held. Rubio will "see the role this complex plays as the venue where classified information taken from the battle field is presented," his office said.
He'lll be receiving a an intelligece overview at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo headquarters, and be briefed on the various functions conducted there. He will also meet with the Joint Task Force Commander, and will tour Camp VI, the building in which detainees are actually held.

d ore here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/05/marco-rubio-makes-first-cuba-visit-to-guantanamo-bay.html#storylink=cpy

May 28, 2012

Bill Nelson: cautious campaigner or practictioner of vanilla guide to government?

The world’s greatest deliberative body faces monumental decisions on issues ranging from crushing debt to nukes in Iran. But U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is more likely to be seen fighting monster snakes.

During 12 years in the Senate, the Florida Democrat has maintained a tight focus on the state, rarely missing an opportunity to exploit headlines or take up populist causes, whether sounding alarms over Burmese pythons in the Everglades or Chinese drywall or demanding pensions for ex-Negro League ballplayers in Tampa.

“He is a connoisseur of low-hanging fruit,” said Florida Republican strategist J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich. “The best way to win elections is to not do anything hard. Take the easy issue of the moment, kind of the effervescence, climb all over it and then wait for the next one. You can always find Bill Nelson on the side of the momentary majority, well down in front near the cameras.”

After former NFL players were arrested in Miami on charges of cashing fraudulently obtained tax-refund checks, Nelson traveled there this month to meet a victim. When debate heated up over extending low interest rates on student loans, Nelson visited college campuses in Gainesville and Tampa.

Toxic playgrounds? Nelson files bill to ban arsenic-treated wood. Cops shot in St. Petersburg? Nelson seeks funding for high-tech equipment that can “see through” walls. Newspaper story about high rents for military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base? Nelson demands congressional investigation. Gas prices up? Nelson calls for a crackdown on oil speculators. More here.

-- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/26/v-fullstory/2821490/sen-bill-nelsons-cautious-approach.html#storylink=cpy

May 27, 2012

From Temple Israel bema, teen decries "bullying" of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, decries tactics of Mitt Romney congregant

In the back-and-forth between Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mitt Romney's Miami-Dade co-chair, Stanley Tate, over an Israel speech, we haven't heard from one person who was deeply affected: Lauren Trushin, the 16-year-old girl who was confirmed Friday night and was looking forward to having the congresswoman speak.

But Wasserman Schultz was uninvited after, according to a close reading of Lauren's speech, Tate made a fuss -- not the congresswoman. Tate's allies say the congresswoman was the fit-pitcher.

"What I learned from the member who made the threats is that... people who engage in bullying get their way when people don’t stand up to them," Lauren said in her speech.

"I have learned some hard lessons recently, and I can’t help but be disappointed that I was not able to hear Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz speak tonight. I find it upsetting that anyone would take a stand against a prominent Jewish politician making a speech about the State of Israel, and make threats and misstatements."

The incident underscores the strong emotions in the fight for the Jewish vote -- even at liberal-leaning synagogues like Temple Israel. President Obama's campaign, incidentally, is advertising on a Temple Israel's UStream channel that features, among other things, a recording of the Shabbat service in question.

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