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6 posts from June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013

Poll: Absentee-ballot scandal makes Miami Rep. Joe Garcia vulnerable in reelection

@PatriciaMazzei & @MarcACaputo

A leading rival of U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia released a new poll Monday that shows the incumbent has a double-digit lead but a major vulnerability: the absentee-ballot fraud scandal haunting his campaign.

The poll shows Garcia, a Miami Democrat, leading 46 percent to 34 percent in a potential 2014 matchup against Republican Carlos Curbelo, the Miami-Dade School Board member who commissioned the survey.

But among those who had heard about the Garcia campaign’s involvement in the fraudulent absentee-ballot requests scheme, the race is a “dead heat,” the poll says, with Curbelo leading Garcia 40 percent to 39 percent.

Garcia’s office said he is not worried about poll numbers but rather about building a track record as a first-year congressman.

“Even in a skewed partisan poll the Congressman remains very strong and likely to be re-elected,” Raul Martinez Jr., Garcia’s district director and political advisor, said in a statement. “Congressman Garcia is not focused on partisan politics. Congressman Garcia remains focused on serving the community by dealing with immigration reform, getting the country’s fiscal house in order and fueling the economic recovery.”

Garcia has been in damage control since May 31, when Miami-Dade state attorney’s office investigators raided three locations associated with his campaign manager and a former campaign worker who also served as his congressional spokesman.

More here.

Supreme Court agrees to expedite briefs in redistricting case

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to partly expedite the review of the redistricting challenge brought by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of  individuals and voter groups this month by giving the parties until June 21 to file their briefs.

The court did not say whether it would also conduct an expedited hearing in the case, thereby interrupting the court's traditional summer break, but it did not deny the request for the fast-track hearing either.

The League and several other plaintiffs are asking the court to review a precedent-setting appellate court decision issued last month that allows legislators to be shielded from discovering proceedings in a redistricting challenge.

Lawyers for the House and Senate successfully argued before the First District Court of Appeals that legislators and their staff enjoy blanket immunity from being forced to turn over their work papers or testify regarding redistricting. 


Citizen's top defender, long-time CFO Sharon Binnun, resigns

A top official at Citizens Property Insurance, chief financial officer Sharon Binnun, resigned Monday, the company president Barry Gilway announced Monday in a note to employees.

Binnun served the company as a steadfast defender of some of Citizen's most controversial policies and faced withering criticism from lawmakers and consumer advocates over those ideas as well as over travel expenses racked up by Citizens executives.

Binnun, who joined the state-run insurance company in six years ago and made $255,000 a year, said in her resignation letter she has accepted a job in the private sector effective July 5. She is credited with helping to transfer 430,000 policies from Citizens to private insurers over the past two years, resulting in an estimated 47 percent decrease in potential assessments on Citizens customers and all Florida policyholders in the event of a catastrophic storm.

Binnin was often the voice of Citizens before the legislature, calmly defending ideas that were later rejected by policy makers as too controversial -- such as a proposal from Citizens to offer loans to companies to take out Citizens policies and to remove caps on rate hikes.

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Remembering this day in (Rick Scott) history

Florida Republicans are having a lot of fun pointing out the contradictions in Charlie Crist's record with a feature called "This Day in CRIST-ory," with a logo that resembles the History Channel. But this day, June 17, is historic for a very different reason.

It was on this day in 2010, three years ago, that Rick Scott walked into the state Division of Elections in Tallahassee, wrote a check and got his name on the Republican primary ballot for governor of Florida. It was also the first time Scott held a press conference, and his performance is memorable for a lot of reasons. The Buzz recently reviewed the videotape, courtesy of our media partners at BayNews 9.

Scott talked about the need to turn the state's economy around, create private sector jobs and "getting results by holding people accountable." After a brief statement and fielding a single question, he tried to get away, saying: "I've got to get to another meeting." 

But a cooler head prevailed. Press aide Jennifer Coxe Baker brought Scott out into the hallway where he answered questions for 10 minutes, an experience he summed up near the end by saying: "This is hard!"

Under the hot TV lights, Scott was visibly perspiring as he fielded one question after another. Several were about his personal finances, his fund-raising strategy and his views on a variety of issues -- such as immigration. "I think the Arizona law is a law that we ought to have in Florida," Scott said.

That never happened. But on that day, Scott began to change the course of history in Florida.

-- Steve Bousquet

New GOP web ad attacks Rep. Joe Garcia over absentee-ballot fraud investigation


National Republicans, who have seized on the fraudulent absentee-ballot request investigation engulfing Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia's campaign, plan to attack the Miami congressman in a new online ad.

The National Republican Congressional Committee ad, slated to be posted on the web Tuesday, features a clip of a television spot from Garcia's 2010 campaign in which he said, "Scandals, corruption, partisan infighting -- no wonder people have lost faith in Congress."

Now it's Garcia involved in scandal, the ad notes, cutting to recent news clips about the dismissal of the congressman's chief of staff for apparently directing campaign staffers to submit phony absentee-ballot requests. The ad calls on Garcia "to come clean" in the probe or resign. Garcia has said he had no knowledge of or involvement in the scheme, and prosecutors from the Miami-Dade state attorney's office have so far backed him up.

Here's the ad:

Equality Florida 'condemns Marco Rubio's bigoted comments on immigration reform and ENDA'

Statement from Equality Florida crossposted from Gay South Florida:



Rubio on Immigration Reform:  "If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill.  I'm done.”

Rubio on ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity): "By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation."

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