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8 posts from December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012

Rubio pal Nelson Diaz fights off Ron Paul-ites to win Miami-Dade GOP chair

Nelson Diaz, a member of Sen. Marco Rubio's inner-circle, was narrowly elected to lead the embattled Miami-Dade GOP on Tuesday night, narrowly beating longtime Republican executive committee member Emiliano Antunez.

Diaz, who otherwise might have walked into the post, barely won thanks to a spirited effort by Republicans inspired by former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. A large number of the newcomers won party posts during the GOP primaries in August.

One source put the vote at 56-54. Diaz confirmed he won by two votes.

Republicans said before the meeting that, if all the Paul-ites showed up, Antunez might have won. A few of them forgot to properly submit party loyalty oaths and some Republicans loyal to Diaz wanted to block them from party posts.

The meeting was closed, outgoing Chairman Ben Powell said earlier. Previous chair races were open to the press.

The chairman race would have taken on added significance had another Rubio insider decided to run: Outgoing Congressman David Rivera, who's being nagged by two federal investigations concerning personal and campaign finances.

Rivera ultimately listened to reason and decided to sit this one out. But he'll be back.

Diaz, a lawyer and lobbyist with Becker & Poliakoff, is a much safer choice. Diaz isn't a polarizing figure and the local party -- overwhelmed in the just-ended elections -- needs to soothe rattled nerves, expand and get ready for 2014, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election.

Bill Nelson's touching eulogy about "my friend, our friend, Danny Inouye"

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's seeming silence about the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye was surprising yesterday, but he was travelling and didn't just want to send out a written statement. So Nelson took to the floor today and gave quite a eulogy.

The text:

Mr. President, I want to speak about my friend, our friend, Danny Inouye.

It’s been a week of emotion, and when you look at that black-draped desk with the white flowers, it’s hard to believe that so much a part of this institution is gone as a living, breathing part of the institution.  But, as a part of its history, its memory, its institutions, its values, Danny epitomized all of that.

That is particularly true that he was first a gentleman.  I guess you’d have to say first he was a patriot.  And, all you need to do to see how much he was a patriot was the fact that he had one arm missing when he charged, single-handedly as that Army Lieutenant, that German machine gun nest and took them out and lost his arm and ended up 20 months in the hospital.  Of course we all know he got the Medal of Honor years later, recognition well-deserved.

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Miami-Dade commissioner proposes six gun-control measures for U.S., Florida lawmakers

Miami-Dade commissioners decided not to vote Tuesday on a late addition Commissioner Barbara Jordan made to the board meeting: six gun-control proposals, following last week’s mass shooting in Connecticut.

Jordan, a Democrat in a non-partisan post, sponsored six resolutions urging Congress and the Florida Legislature to take a variety of steps, ranging from reinstating a federal assault-weapons ban to allowing the county to keep a registry of privately owned guns.

Commissioner Lynda Bell, a Republican, asked for a deferral until the commission’s next meeting, in January, to digest Jordan’s proposals.

Separately, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican, said he and Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho are planning a joint effort to examine security in the Miami-Dade school district.

“It’s very difficult to guard against a madman who is willing to die at the end,” Gimenez acknowledged. “We want to make sure we do whatever we can at our facilities.”

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Pam Bondi says case against Carletha Cole depends on reporter's testimony

The state's case against Carletha Cole, a former aide to Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, may hinge on the testimony of Florida Times-Union reporter Matt Dixon, the Associated Press reported today. Cole is accused of illegally taping a conversation with Carroll's chief of staff and the state swants Dixon to say how he obtained the recording.

Last month, a Leon County judge ruled the reporter doesn't have to testify, citing First Amendment protections. The state has now filed an appeal to the court's ruling, saying that the case will fall apart without Dixon's testimony, the AP reported.

More from the AP:

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is joining with prosecutors who want to force a reporter to testify in a criminal case against a former aide to Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. 

Bondi's office last Friday filed an appeal that states that the criminal case against Carletha Cole could fall apart if the request isn't granted. Additionally, the appeal states that the reporter's testimony could help prosecutors file additional charges. 

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Bad return address on Christmas cards from Gov. Rick Scott's political committee

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It is definitely not the Governor's Mansion. There are no stately white columns on the modest house 3 miles east of the state Capitol.

But that's the return address on envelopes containing a Christmas card and a $25 historical Christmas ornament sent to several thousand of Gov. Rick Scott's supporters.

The mail is from Let's Get to Work, the political committee raising money for Scott's 2014 campaign, but the name of the committee appears on the envelopes as "Let's Go to Work.''

Scott's committee has raised about $5 million toward 2014. Scott spent more than $70 million to win the job in 2010 but has indicated he will not spend as much of his own money to win re-election.

Steve Andrews, a Tallahassee lawyer embroiled in a bitter lawsuit against the governor, says his wife received one of the packages.

"It's a typical intimidation tactic,'' Andrews told the Tampa Bay Times. He says his wife has not donated to the governor's campaign or his political committee and should not be on his list to receive anything.

Andrews went to the return address listed and discovered young tenants who were steadily tossing out all of the packages postal authorities were returning as undeliverable. Andrews collected a dozen of them and left them with a Times reporter.

John French, the lawyer who manages Scott's political committee, says it was all a mistake made by the printer. The return address should have been his home just down the street, the official address of the committee.

Story by Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan here.

Florida releases results of license tag contest

Florida voters have selected their next license tag.

The green-rimmed, leafed-orange winner in a poll of about 50,000 online voters could be released as soon as 2014. It is scheduled to be phased in over two years on Florida's 15 million vehicles.

"Sunshine State" is at the plate's bottom edge, and the center is stamped with seven characters instead of the traditional six, to keep Florida from running out of character combinations.

"The online poll represents one part of the process to select the new plate design," says a news release from the Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles. "Before the design is manufactured, the public's vote will be factored in with input from the Governor, Cabinet and policy makers.

Read more here.

Rick Scott touts job creation, goes back to familiar source

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott announced today that L-3 Crestview Aerospace, a New York City aircraft contractor, will create 340 jobs during an expansion over the next two years of its manufacturing operations in Okaloosa County.

“These are hundreds of jobs that will positively impact Florida’s communities – and is a great sign of Florida’s growing economy,” Scott said in a release.

The announcement comes just three days before the release of November’s jobs figures for Florida. Florida added 14,700 jobs in October. The unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in October, higher than the national rate.

Scott has struggled to fulfill his promise of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years as governor. Through October, the total number of jobs created since Scott took office in January 2011 was 154,000.

This is at least his second time trumping L-3 Crestview Aerospace in making the larger argument that jobs are getting created on his watch. In October, Scott toured the L-3 Crestview Aerospace facility in a visit where he highlighted job creation in the state.

Here’s Tuesday's release:

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Allen West's final weekly newsletter faces the Truth-O-Meter

The first week of December in Congress was dominated by news about the fiscal cliff. So you will forgive us if we overlooked this other tidbit tucked into the final weekly newsletter sent by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens.

"This week we voted in the House of Representatives to remove the word ‘lunatic’ from federal law," wrote West, who lost a close race to Democrat Patrick Murphy in District 18 in Florida’s Treasure Coast. "However, that does not mean there isn't plenty of lunacy going on in the workings of the federal government!"

We can’t fact-check the amount of lunacy in Washington, D.C., but we couldn’t resist looking into whether the House actually voted to remove the word "lunatic" from federal law. Read PolitiFact for the full story.