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9 posts from October 8, 2012

October 08, 2012

The Rivera files: Congressman denies investigation -- despite prosecutor's email

Picture 23Congressman David Rivera has been under investigation for more than a year. And for just as long, Rivera has denied it all, most recently Monday morning on US1 Radio in the Florida Keys where veteran host Bill Becker tried to get Rivera to talk about the cases.

A little history: Rivera was first investigated by the state and then the feds in connection with a secret $500,000 dog track payment. Now, he faces a second federal grand-jury investigation into whether he helped illegally steered secret money to a candidate who tried to undermine a rival (some background here).

Initially, Rivera denied he was under any investigation at all. He even denied hiring a lawyer on July 21, 2011 (see the answer to the last question here). By then, records show, his criminal defense attorney Michael Band had been on the case for about two months by that point (see the attached JPEG, click to enlarge).

Band did his work. He helped Rivera avoid 52 state charges (more background here).

Rivera is still denying that the feds opened an investigation tied to him -- this despite on-the-record comments from people who have been interviewed by the FBI and the IRS. Rivera essentially denied it again Monday when he tried to steer Becker away from talk of the cops so he could stay on message about jobs and the economy.

Becker: "You know and I know that that's not what the voters are talking about. They're talking about your ongoing investigations by the FBI, the grand jury, the FDLE regarding your activities as of late... Your involvement in the campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad..."

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Newcomer John Couriel outraises Margolis in his long-shot appeal to independents

In what may be the sleeper legislative campaign of the season, Sen. Gwen Margolis, the veteran Democrat from Miami, is getting a run for her money — literally — from Miami Beach lawyer John Couriel in the newly drawn coastal district.

Margolis has loaned herself $160,000 to win re-election to Senate District 35, which stretches from Golden Beach to Homestead. But she is being out-raised and, thus far, outspent by the Republican newcomer.

Couriel, 34, has collected $213,830 in campaign contributions to Margolis’ $174,093 and has won the endorsements of former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Couriel quit his job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami to run for the seat and vows to out-campaign Margolis, 78, a former state Senate president who was first elected to the state House in 1974.

“I’m hustling. I’ve never done this before but I’m not going to be out-worked,’’ Couriel said Monday during a break from walking door-to-door in Pinecrest.

Couriel has the trappings of broad Republican support, from the endorsements of party icons Rubio and Bush to a political committee running attack ads against his opponent. But there is one notable absence: his race is not among the must-watch contests receiving cash infusions from the Senate Majority, the political committees controlled by incoming Senate leader Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. More here.

Judge considers whether Haridopolos, Thrasher should be part of Jim Greer civil case

A Tallahassee judge refused Monday to dismiss a civil lawsuit by former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer against the party and two prominent state senators.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper heard for the first time the details of Greer's suit, filed after the party reneged on a 2010 agreement to give the embattled former chairman $124,000 in severance pay.

The deal was struck in secret as the state Republican Party tried to force Greer, accused of funneling $300,000 from the party to his private company, out the door.

Greer also named Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, then the incoming party chairman, as defendants in the suit.

Continue reading "Judge considers whether Haridopolos, Thrasher should be part of Jim Greer civil case" »

Obama's UM bound (for 3rd time) on Thursday, holds Miami fundraiser as well

President Obama is coming to the University of Miami for his third visit; he'll have a fundraiser at JW Marriott Marquis Miami later in the day.

The UM event is open to the public. The fundraiser is open to any member of the public who has cash like the 1 percent.

Obama visited UM last month for a Univision interview and he also came in February.

Here's the press release

President Obama will hold a Grassroots Event in Miami on Thursday, October 11th at the University of Miami.

Where: BankUnited Center at the University of Miami
1245 Dauer Drive  Coral Gables, FL 33146

When: Thursday, October 11th
Doors open at 1 p.m

TICKET DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION:

The event is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required for entrance. To pick up a ticket, visit any of the following locations beginning on Monday, October 8 at 5pm. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

OFA-FL Liberty City Office; 647 NW 62 Street; Miami, FL 33150

OFA-FL West Kendall Office; 7356 SW 117 Avenue; Miami, FL 33183

Florida International University South Campus; Graham Center Room 241; 11200 SW 8th St; Miami, FL 33174

University of Miami; Box Office of the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami; 1245 Dauer Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146

Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus; Building 2000, Student Life Patio; 300 NE 2nd Avenue; Miami, FL 33132

Republicans' absentee-vote lead ain't like the ole days; neither is Democratic registration edge

Republicans are justifiably crowing that they're leading in absentee-ballot voting, which has just begun in Florida. But then, they've always been able to do that. Republicans have traditionally dominated mail-in balloting.

Compared to where both parties were in 2008, however, the Florida Democratic Party is boasting that it has cut the Republican edge in absentee ballots cast from a 15-point deficit to a 4-point margin relative to this stage of the election (32 days out).

Democrats, also, have traditionally crushed Republican when it comes to in-person early voting at the polls.

Consider these statistics from Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county, in 2008: Nearly 170,000 absentee ballots were cast, 48 percent by Republicans who comprise just 33 percent of the total vote.  But Democrats cast about 175,000 early votes -- enough to exceeded the Republican totals for both early-vote and absentee ballots by 7 percent.

Guess what type of voting was limited this year? Early voting.

The more fraud-prone absentee-ballot voting was left untouched (more on that here) by the Republican Legislature when it passed an elections-fraud crackdown bill that happened to first ensnare... a Republican Party vendor this year. Republicans have filed complaints against the FDP and two liberal groups in the meantime.

The race between President Obama and Mitt Romney appears tighter at this point than it was between Obama and John McCain in 2008, when the Democrat won by fewer than 3 percentage points.

Four years ago, Democrats had a stunning voter-registration edge of 657,775. Now it's 454,752 as of August. Expect that lead to grow a little more once all the numbers are in (voter registration closes tomorrow). While Republicans have shut down their registration efforts, Democrats have poured it on, saying they out-registered Republicans by a margin of 18,063 in September.

But is that enough?

Obama only won by 236,450 votes in 2008. Today, the Democrats' registration edge has fallen by 184,960
as of August. Registrations don't equal votes, but they're a good predictor.

So expect what the polls are showing us: a squeaker.

Here's the historical AB data

2008 Absentee Requests
DEM
489,333
35%
IND
212,493
15%
REP
698,355
50%
TOTAL
1,400,181
Dem Difference:
-15%
2012 Absentee Requests
DEM
784,478
39%
IND
355,171
18%
REP
871,920
43%
TOTAL
2,011,569
Dem Difference:
-4%

Women lawyers: vote for justices based on ethics, not high profile cases

The number one factor voters should consider when deciding whether or not to vote for a judge in a merit retention race is the judge's ethics and integrity, according to an August polls of members of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers.

The 3,000-member organization said that lawyers surveyed said that the next top factors voters should consider when deciding whether to retain justices is the judge's impartiality, commitment to the law, judicial temperament and demeanor and legal abilities. The least important factor, according to 75 percent of those surveyed, was the judge's ruling in high profile cases.

Florida Supreme Court Justices, Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and R. Fred Lewis, along with 15 appeals court justices, will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The survey was part of an the organization's effort to educate its members on merit retention. The Florida Association of Women Lawyers is a a voluntary bar association that provides a statewide voice for Florida’s women lawyers.

From its statement:

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FL Dems crushing Republicans in voter registration

From a Florida Democratic Party email:

FL Dems announced that we out-registered Republicans in September by 16 points, marking the 8th consecutive month that Dems have beat the GOP in voter registration. More information and a copy of the e-blast below:

BY THE NUMBERS:

September is the 8th consecutive month that Democrats have out-registered Republicans.

Democrats registered 18,063 more voters than Republicans in September, beating the Republicans by 16-percent.

In September, Democrats had a nearly 30-percent registration advantage with Hispanics. Overall, Democrats are beating Republicans in Hispanic registration by roughly 10-points.

In September, Democrats had a 21-percent registration advantage with women. Overall, Democrats are beating Republicans in women registration by roughly 10-points. I wanted you to be the first to hear some very exciting news.

Florida's September voter registration data shows Democrats' most impressive month yet: we've out-registered the GOP in Florida by over 16-percent in September, with over 43,000 new Democrats on the rolls.

Florida Democrats have built the strongest, largest ground game this state has ever seen — we are entering the final month in a strong position to win Democratic victories up and down the ticket.

Thank you for your handwork and support. We've got 29 days to bring it home and we can't let up now.

Scott Arceneaux

FL Republicans crushing Dems in campaign money

From The News Service of Florida's Jim Saunders:

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, October 8, 2012.......With less than a month before Election Day, new campaign-finance reports show Republican legislative candidates often dominating the money game against their Democratic opponents.

In some races, the state Republican Party poured tens of thousands of dollars of cash into House candidates' campaigns during a two-week period in September --- even into races that have drawn relatively little attention. In other instances, GOP candidates simply scooped up more contributions than their Democratic counterparts.

The biggest fund-raiser among House candidates between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28 was Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican who faces a tough challenge in District 30 from Maitland Democrat Karen Castor Dentel.

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What Big Bird says about our politics and Washington

2012-10-05-bigbirdhelpThe presidential campaign’s stalking horse is big, yellow and not much of a horse at all.

It’s Big Bird, the Sesame Street character.

“I like PBS, I love Big Bird,” Republican Mitt Romney said at least week’s debate. “But I’m not going to . . . keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Feathers officially ruffled, liberals donned Big Bird costumes in protest as Romney stumped from Virginia to Florida. Before Romney’s St. Petersburg speech, a Big Bird-suited protestor battled another dressed up as a giant Romney.

“Crack down on Wall Street, not Sesame Street,” read one sign held by a liberal feather-suited angry bird.

In the context of a presidential election, this can seem silly and small.

But that’s a good thing.

Continue reading "What Big Bird says about our politics and Washington" »