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16 posts from November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013

Husband of Opa-locka mayor pleads guilty to campaign felonies


The husband of Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor pleaded guilty Wednesday to covering up more than $6,000 illegal campaign contributions for his wife in 2010.

John Taylor, 68, accepted three years of probation on charges of fabricating evidence, conspiracy and excessive campaign contributions. He must complete 150 hours of community service and pay more than $4,000 in fines.

He was arrested in February 2010, another blow to a city long plagued by public corruption. Prosecutors did not have enough evidence to implicate the mayor. But they had enough to arrest her husband, son Demetrius “Corleon” Taylor and Myra Taylor’s sister, Elvira Smith.

Myra Taylor won that November 2010 campaign, ushering herself back to the city’s top political post after pleading guilty to an earlier, unrelated misdemeanor charge and settling a tax case with the federal government.

Miami-Dade prosecutors said the Taylors, who run the private Vankara private school, used a school account to pay more than $6,000 for the cost of printing campaign materials that fall. The family’s company, New Beginnings, run from their church, also paid $783.93 for a political mailer.

More here.

Amid power struggle with staff chief, Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 victory architect takes a step back


Amid a power struggle with Gov. Rick Scott's new chief of staff, the pollster-architect of the Republican's unexpected campaign victory in 2010 has taken a step back from day-to-day operations of his reelection campaign for next year.

Pollster Tony Fabrizio said in an email that he is still working for the governor, but he downplayed and declined to comment about what has become an open secret in Tallahassee -- his clashes with Scott's chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth.

Since he was appointed in the summer of 2012, Hollingsworth has tried to take over more political operations in the state capital and minimized Scott's 2010 loyalists, Republicans say.

Rumors from the Republican Governors Association meeting in Arizona flew this week that Fabrizio was gone from the campaign, but he made clear he's just taking on a different role: handling long-term strategic planning rather than day-to-day campaign-management and messaging activities.

“I am proud to have been a part of helping Rick Scott shock the political establishment in 2010 and will be even prouder to help him shock them once again in 2014 when he soundly defeats Charlie Crist," Fabrizio said by email.

"Governor Scott’s record of job creation, fiscal management and common sense education reforms will serve as a great contrast to 'flat-leaver' Charlie's record of cutting and running on FL while more than 800,000 lost their jobs and the state budget spiraled out of control,” Fabrizio said.

Replacing Fabrizio as his day-to-day overseer of tactics and message role: Curt Anderson of the firm OnMessage, which remains the lead ad firm on Scott’s team. Anderson and Fabrizio are close friends and worked hand-in-glove on the 2010 campaign.

Continue reading "Amid power struggle with staff chief, Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 victory architect takes a step back" »

Rep. Trey Radel gets 1-year probation for cocaine charge

From AP:

Florida Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fort Myers, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year's probation.

"I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help," Radel told District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Tignor in acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover agent.

The 37-year-old lawmaker said he struggles with alcoholism and will seek treatment and counseling. Radel made no mention of his political future but says he had made an "extremely irresponsible choice" and let down his family and his constituents.

"I want to come out of this stronger," Radel said in court, later adding that he wants to "continue serving this country."

Background here

Before his cocaine bust, U.S. Rep. Trey Radel voted to drug-test food stamp recipients

Huffington Post:

"WASHINGTON -- In September, Rep. Trey Radel voted for Republican legislation that would allow states to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs. In October, police busted the Florida Republican on a charge of cocaine possession.

"'It’s really interesting it came on the heels of Republicans voting on everyone who had access to food stamps get drug tested," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told BuzzFeed Tuesday. "It’s like, what?'

"The House over the summer approved an amendment by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) that would let states drug test people on food stamps. The amendment passed by voice vote, meaning members' individual yeas and nays were not recorded. Radel later voted in favor of a broader food stamps bill that included Hudson's measure."

More here

How Miami Shores' village leaders are mental vegetables


For retired architect Hermine Ricketts, plotting out her prized vegetable garden — with its okra, kale, lettuce, onions and a dozen or more varieties of Asian cabbage — was a labor of love.

But Miami Shores village leaders, unhappy with Ricketts green thumb, ordered her and husband Tom Carroll to dig up the bounty they have been growing for the past 17 years in their front yard — or face fines of $50 a day. A front yard garden violates a zoning ordinance, village officials say.

The couple sued Tuesday, accusing Miami Shores of violating their rights under the Florida Constitution. Ricketts never had to visit the produce aisle of a supermarket for vegetables. Now she does.

“We are already feeling the impact of shopping for overpriced organic food,” she said Tuesday, standing near a plot where her eggplants used to grow.

The couple are not seeking money; they’re suing for $1. They just want to be able to restore their vegetable garden in their front yard.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/19/3764503/couple-sues-miami-shores-for-ordering.html#storylink=cpy

After Rep. Radel's cocaine bust, a Connie Mack comeback?


Shortly after Congressman Trey Radel's cocaine bust in DC went viral, the inevitable speculation about the future of his seat started and inevitably settled on one person in particular: Former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who once held the Fort Myers seat.

Apparently, a few reporters called Mack's political team, which didn't really knock down the speculation with this statement that had political insiders buzzing after it was blasted out:

 FORT MYERS -- In response to questions that he has received this evening, former Congressman Connie Mack issued the following statement regarding Rep. Trey Radel.

Mack said:

"This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for Trey and his family and I'm sure all of us in Southwest Florida are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. 

"It is important that we all appreciate the very personal nature of Trey's situation and understand that it is premature to respond to or consider political questions at this time."

It should be noted that Mack endorsed Radel, so there are no hard feelings apparently there. However, that might not be the case with some of Radel's opponents in the GOP primary that included Radel, Chauncey Goss and former state Reps Paige Kreegel and Gary Aubuchon.

Mack had left his congressional seat in a tough and failed bid last year against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who won the post after Mack's father and namesake retired from the U.S. Senate in 2000.