Gov. Rick Scott will cast his Republican primary ballot Tuesday at the St. Ann Jubilee Center in his hometown of Naples in Collier County. That's a bit of a switch: the governor had switched his voter registration from Naples to Tallahassee last July, and cast his presidential preference primary ballot last January in the capital city, not far from the Governor's Mansion that he now calls home.
Scott's official schedule says he'll vote between 7 and 8 a.m. at the Naples location. Will he tell reporters how he voted? (He was mum on his choice for president last January).
Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said his office's records show that Scott switched his registration back to Collier last April.
Ironically, Scott could cast a ballot Tuesday and update his address for voting purposes in Collier County without worrying about having to cast a provisional ballot. That's because Collier is one of five so-called Section 5 counties in Florida for voting purposes. Any changes to voting procedures in Collier have to be pre-cleared by the U.S. government or by the federal courts before they can go into effect, and that pre-clearance process has not yet been completed.
-- Steve Bousquet
Romney goes on offense over $700 billion in Medicare cuts. Will it be a boomerang, a sword or a shield?
Republican Mitt Romney stumped in Florida on Monday when went on offense to rebut criticisms of his running mate’s proposal that cut Medicare spending.
President Obama he cut Medicare, Romney noted.
“The president's idea, for instance, for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That’s not the right answer,” Romney said. “We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare.”
But Romney’s criticism of the Medicare cuts also boomerangs on his newly chosen running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who implicitly voted for the same Medicare cuts as president Obama’s health plan known as ObamaCare.
Under the 2011 Ryan plan bill approved by nearly every House Republican, ObamaCare would have been repealed almost entirely – except when it came to the Medicare reductions in future reimbursement rates to hospitals and drug and insurance companies.
So Medicare’s bottom-line spending would have been about the same under ObamaCare or under what some are now calling RyanCare.
But aside from the similarities in the $700 billion decade’s-worth of cuts between ObamaCare and Ryan’s plan, the two proposals differ greatly.
Ryan’s plan would likely cost future seniors more in out of pocket expenses due to the way it calls for a voucher-like premium-support system. But Ryan’s plan, nicknamed RyanCare, would save taxpayers money and would likely keep Medicare solvent longer than ObamaCare would.
The Medicare trust fund is scheduled to be insolvent in 2024 – eight years later thanks largely to the cuts in ObamaCare.
Obama diverted the money saved from Medicare to boost health subsidies for the poor and uninsured, especially in Medicaid, the state-federal health-insurance program. Also, ObamaCare raised up to $1 trillion in new taxes to help fund these programs.
Romney and Ryan oppose the new government subsidies and the tax increases. Republican supporters say Obama essentially “stole” money from Medicare to boost the other programs.
The Obama-stole-Medicare money could prove to be a political winner for Republicans. After all, it worked in 2010.
Also, voters could get lost in all of the back-and-forth over who cut what, when and why. And if both sides look equally culpable when it comes to cutting Medicare, then Democrats could lose a powerful political tool that often inures to their benefit.
So the Medicare cuts could be a sword Romney wields against Obama. Or it could be a shield that covers his flank.
Since he took office, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been trying to match Texas' record at creating new jobs. Texas is still winning, but on Monday Scott got a measure of revenge, defeating Gov. Rick Perry in a two-hour fishing derby off the Gulf of Mexico in Destin.
"We won. That's all that matters," Scott said as he and Perry returned to shore at the HarborWalk complex in Destin, reporting that Florida caught five fish and Texas caught two. (Texas, however, did catch the biggest fish of the day, a delectable-looking red snapper). "It was thiiiiis big," Perry exclaimed. "Swam all the way from Texas."
Scott wore a Navy blue ball cap emblazoned with "Beat Perry," and Perry wore a cap that said "I'm worried." They fished aboard the 65-foot commercial fishing boat "Relentless," and both governors brought along combat veterans who were also skilled anglers.
Either the governor's office was supremely confident or they knew the outcome in advance: Scott presented Perry with a large trophy that said "#2" on it. Accepting the award, Perry said: "Trust me. I'm going to go home, and we're going to tax, regulate, and litigate, so that Florida will be back in its rightful place at Number 2."
Even though Scott and Perry are engaged in a good-natured competition for jobs, the two men are ideologically very compatible, and have a mutual dislike for President Obama, Obamacare, and government regulations.
Texans love the Emerald Coast's white, sandy beaches, but P.erry said it was first visit back to Destin since 1971.
-- Steve Bousquet
Genting's political check writers, who had taken a bit of a break since the legislative session ended without passing their casino resort legislation, have been busy. The Malaysian-based casino giant has written a whopping $431,000 in campaign contributions since July 16, during the run-up to the primary.
The largest chunk of money -- $189,000 -- went to the company's newly formed political committee as it prepares to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. (Presumably they are polling ballot language to give to petition gatherers on election day.) The rest of it went to mega contributions to the political committees of some key legislative players such as Sens. Jack Latvala and Joe Negron. Who is the Republican to watch in the casino-resistant House? Jason Brodeur of Sanford.
Here's our list from both Genting's coffers and Bayfront Development LLC, Genting's Miami-based development company:
Lauderdale by the Sea doesn’t make the news often -- it’s a small beachside town in Broward County known for the fishing pier, pretty beachfront and cute downtown with ice cream shops and restaurants. It’s also the home part of the year to Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s mother.
Betty Ryan Douglas, 78, has lived in a gated townhome community for part of the year since the development on Ocean Boulevard opened in 2000, said one of her neighbors, Rosina Ventre. She lives in a quiet townhome community that is a mix of locals and snowbirds.
She is only there during the winter months, Ventre said. Ryan Douglas doesn’t introduce herself as the Congressman’s son but Ventre said she saw Ryan visit his mother there.
“She is a very nice woman, nice family woman. Very bright, very alert,” Ventre said.
Ryan Douglas has been a registered Republican voter in Broward since 1997 and a regular voter, said Mary Cooney, spokeswoman for the Broward Supervisor of Elections.
Bob Graham assistant moves on
Chip Burpee ended his 15-year tenure as assistant to former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham Friday.
“All good things must come to an end” Burpee wrote in an e-mail to the press, calling Graham a true statesman and public servant.
Burpee will be the new government relations manager for JM Family Enterprises, an automotive company. Graham hasn’t named Burpee’s replacement as of Monday, his office confirmed.
Sen. Arthenia Joyner joins Vanguard Attorneys
Vanguard Attorneys announced Arthenia Joyner as the firm’s new counsel.
“She is a dedicated professional who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the firm. With her unyielding passion for justice and for serving the local community, she is an asset not only to our Tampa office, but to our entire community as a whole,” said Frank Marsalisi, the firm’s managing attorney.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice will monitor Tuesday's primaries in five Florida counties -- Collier, Hendry, Lee, Osceola and Polk -- to make sure that elections officials there will provide language assistance in Spanish.
The DOJ announced the monitoring today in a short news release, which also mentioned that the city of Milwaukee, Wis. would be monitored as well. It's not certain if the oversight was regular procedure or sparked by complaints. Each year, the DOJ deploys hundreds of federal observers to monitor elections across the nation.
But the department doesn't comment as to how jurisdictions are chosen for monitoring, said Mitchell Rivard, a DOJ spokesman.
Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, is facing yet another ethics complaint over his finances, one day before the Republican primary.
Fresen’s challenger, first-time candidate Amory Bodin, is pushing to make Fresen’s finances an issue as the primary vote nears. Bodin has put out a release highlighting the long list of ethics complaints filed against Fresen, who has experienced financial troubles with his mortgage, taxes and other obligations.
The latest ethics complaint comes in the wake of a Miami Herald article that highlighted some of Fresen’s financial troubles. The complaint alleges that Fresen failed to fully disclose his financial assets. Fresen, who is entangled in a foreclosure lawsuit, told the Herald that he makes enough money to cover his mortgage, but is going through a “legal nightmare” with his lender over a billing dispute.
“I can more than cover my mortgage,” Fresen told the Herald. “I’m willing to pay whatever must be paid.”
The new ethics complaint alleges that if Fresen truly has that kind of money, he has not disclosed it in his financial disclosure forms, which require major assets to be listed.
“It is not reasonable to believe someone with income in excess of $200,000 per year, who makes no mortgage and real estate tax payments, and who has used none of the cash flow to pay down reported debt, has no intangible assets in the form of bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, etc., that exceed $1,000,” the complaint reads.
Here’s a copy of the ethics complaint filed last week.
Property insurance reform was nowhere to be found among Gov. Rick Scott’s “legislative priorities” during this year’s lawmaking session in Tallahassee.
But even as Scott pushed publicly for lawmakers to pass bills on car insurance reform, job creation incentives and education funding, he was working behind the scenes on another significant project: A massive overhaul of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
The goal? Shrink Citizens drastically without involving the Legislature, which historically has set policy guidelines for the state-run insurer.
“We have to have real solutions, and I, along with everybody else up here, we expect the Citizens board to find them,” Scott told then-Citizens president Scott Wallace during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet last November.
Wallace had told Scott and other members of the Cabinet that Citizens would need “guidance” from the Legislature in order to make major headwinds. Scott did not address the request, instead telling Wallace and the board to “solve the problem by June of next year before the next hurricane season.”
Wallace resigned a month later, and was replaced by Tom Grady, Scott’s neighbor and political ally.
Read more here:
Bonus: From the 'Never-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste' department, four challengers for state office are staging a protest today over Citizens' rates outside the Miami office of board chairman, Carlos Lacasa.
With less than 24 hours to go before the primary elections, candidates Paul Crespo, R-Miami, Waldo Faura, D-Miami, Eugenio Perez, R-Miami, and Libby Perez, R-Miami, will lead a rally against rising insurance rates at 1:30 pm in Miami.
The group has pointed out that three incumbents, Reps. Michael Bileca, Carlos Trujillo and Jose Felix Diaz, all Miami Republicans, voted for SB 408, an insurance bill that has led to higher rates for sinkhole coverage. Crespo is trying to unseat Trujillo and Eugenio Perez is trying to unseat Bileca in tomorrow's primary.