December 02, 2014

Consumers still most annoyed by violators of the Do Not Call List

Violators of the statewide Do No Call List, problems at the gas pump and motor vehicle repair problems were the top three complaints received in November at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The majority of the 2,965 complaints received concerned the pesky calls consumers want to avoid.

The agriculture department added 12,396 telephone numbers to Florida's Do Not Call list in November -- bringing the number of consumers on the list to 737,000, compared to the 71,460 phone numbers on the statewide list in 2012.

It's now free to add your name to the list but that wasn't the case two years ago when the legislature, prompted by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, dropped the $10 registration fee and $5 annual fee for individuals to sign up for the statewide Do Not Call list during the 2012 session.

The top calls to the agriculture and consumer services department's hotline in November were related to cable companies, the solicitation of contributions from charities and the Do Not Call list, said agency spokesmanErin Gillepsie. The agency recovered $487,934 on behalf of Florida consumers in November, she said.

To report fraud, call the agency's consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

 

October 01, 2014

New Putnam ad takes aim at Washington

With just five weeks until Election Day, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's re-election campaign is kicking into high gear.

The former U.S. congressman has a new TV spot that takes aim at Washington.

"Every day, Washington finds new ways to meddle with our dreams," he says. "And every day, as commissioner, I'm making sure they don't."

Putnam also talks about the need for better schools and technology so Florida's students can "compete with the world and win." That's somewhat outside of his duties as agriculture commissioner, though the department runs some school-based education programs.

The incumbent has raised $2.7 million for his campaign, state elections records show.

His Democratic challenger, longtime U.S. Department of Agriculture employee and environmentalist Thad Hamilton, has collected about $20,300.

Putnam's large haul may be a sign that he is looking to the future. He is already considered a strong candidate in the 2018 governor's race.

 

February 10, 2014

Scott laps Crist four times in January fundraising

@TBTia

Gov. Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” committee raised $3.4 million in January, but, for the first time, he got an additional boost from his own campaign account, according to finance reports due Monday.

Scott reported raising $734,036 in January, giving his candidacy a combined $4.1 million for the month. It’s the first month his personal campaign account raised money and it’s four times what his rival, Charlie Crist, managed to raise.

Crist raised $636,800 through his "Charlie Crist for Florida" committee. Combined with the $374,767 his own campaign raised, Crist brought in $1,011,567.

Lagging behind Scott is hardly good news for Crist, considering that Scott has already raised $32,262,936 through January, while Crist, who announced his run in November, has raised a total of $5,048,031.

But at least Crist is slow to spend what he’s got, blowing through only $380,237 of his total through January. But Scott has been miserly as well, spending about $519,569.

Attorney General Pam Bondi continued to outpace her three rivals, raising $10,000 in her "And Justice for All" committee and another $178,000 from her "Justice for All committee". Of course, you already read that in this blog post.

Continue reading "Scott laps Crist four times in January fundraising" »

January 29, 2014

Putnam wraps up trip to Panama

While Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and lawmakers addressed reporters during the annual AP Legislative Planning Session on Wednesday, state Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam was wrapping up a four-day trip to Panama.

His traveling companions: PortMiami Director Bill Johnson; Plant City strawberry grower Gary Wishnatzki; Robert Behr and Joel Sellers, of Florida’s Natural Growers; and Richard Gaskalla of the state agriculture department.

The purpose of the trip was twofold, Putnam explained before leaving on Sunday.

For one, Putnam wants to help Florida growers expand their footprint in the Panamanian retail market.

"We think that because of our proximity [to Latin America] and our quality product, we can be on the leading edge of opening up these Latin American markets," he said.

The delegation also intended to explore ways Florida could capitalize on the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Said Putnam: "Florida is betting big on being the first stop for these giants ships after the Panama Canal has doubled in size."

The group was scheduled to meet with Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano and Minister of Agriculture Oscar Osorio, among others. 

The trip was Putnam's first trip abroad as agriculture commissioner.

January 14, 2014

'Complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws' proposed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

@tbtia

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Wednesday will propose "a complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws," aiming to increase state oversight and transparency in direct response to investigative reports published last year in the Tampa Bay Times.

Putnam, whose duties include protecting Florida's consumers, said the changes will help Floridians make more informed choices about the charities they patronize. The legislation will also grant the state additional powers to regulate nonprofits and the professional solicitors who raise money for charities.

"We are introducing a complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws so that Floridians will be protected from having their hard-earned money go to deceptive charities and Florida will not be a safe haven for bad actors from other states," Putnam said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with the Times/Herald.

State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will sponsor the bills and have been working with Putnam for months. The "America's Worst Charities" investigation by the Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting studied thousands of charities that paid for-profit companies to increase donations and highlighted the 50 worst that spent the most on outside fundraising.

Brandes said he was upset by what he read in the newspaper, especially since many of these organizations were based in Florida. He reached out to Putnam, who agreed to make charities reform one of his priorities for the 2014 session.

Read more here.

October 07, 2013

Movers & Shakers

New appointments at the Department of Agriculture

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam H. Putnam has named five appointments in his department.

Alan Edwards has been named director of administration for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Edwards, who has served with the agency for more than 20 years in various roles, was previously the director of policy and budget. Prior to joining the department, he was the controller for a multimillion dollar construction company and sole proprietor of a CPA firm.

Derek Buchanan, who joined the department in 2008, has been named director of policy and budget. He held several positions in finance and accounting and policy and budget, and previously served as a senior auditor for the Florida Auditor General’s Office. 

Brooke McKnight has been promoted to cabinet affairs director. She was previously in the deputy director position. She also served as a senior legislative assistant for Putnam when he was a U.S. representative for Florida's 12th Congressional district.

Jessica Field started working as deputy cabinet affairs director on Oct. 1, afer working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since 2008. She was most recently  an environmental consultant.

Jon Rees has been named deputy legislative affairs director. He recently served as the legislative assistant to Rep. Ross Spano.He's a former governmental and political affairs coordinator for Associated Industries of Florida. 

DCF press secretary moves to the Attorney General's office 

Whitney Ray, who had been press secretary for the Department of Children and Families for about five months, has joined Attorney General Pam Bondi's office as press secretary.

Before working at DCF, Ray was a TV reporter for the Capitol News Service.

Ray replaces John Lucas, who has become press secretary at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

August 06, 2013

Scott, Cabinet OK health care forms despite claims they 'mislead'

An excerpt from a story in Wednesday's paper:

Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Florida Cabinet have signed off on a controversial new disclosure form that critics say is intended to poison Floridians against the health care law.

The Florida Legislature passed a law requiring the form after Republicans argued that policyholders need to know how federal reforms will affect their premiums. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — all Republicans — on Tuesday approved the disclosure forms unanimously and with no debate.

In recent weeks, critics have said the forms are useless and any efforts to compare policies that comply with the health care law to those that don't is "fuzzy math."

"It's totally about politics, and, probably more importantly, it's an incredible waste of money," said Bill Newton, executive director of Florida Consumer Action Network, which supports the federal health care law.

Prior to a vote, Putnam referred to the Office of Insurance Regulation's report that said individual plans would have an average increase of 30 to 40 percent under the federal law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has questioned those estimates.

"Across the country we have seen press announcements by state insurance commissioners that consistently indicate substantial increases in premiums to the consumer, especially in that individual market," Putnam said after the meeting.

Read more here.

March 14, 2013

Scott, Weatherford, Rubio celebrate "non-partisan" James Madison Institute

If Ayn Rand were alive and living in Florida, she would have paid $125 for a ticket and attended The James Madison Institute’s 25th anniversary gala Wednesday night.

Most of the state’s conservative heavyweights were there: Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, House Speaker Will Weatherford. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a televised greeting to the institute. Attorney General Pam Bondi was scheduled to show but had to cancel for a funeral. 

They were there to celebrate property rights, free markets, states rights and deregulation and other causes that JMI, founded in 1987, has championed. As JMI’s influence as a “non-partisan” think tank has grown, so too has the Republican grip on power in Tallahassee.

In telling closing remarks, former House Speaker Allan Bense, who is chairman of JMI and Weatherford’s father-in-law, explained why the think tank matters so much for conservatives.

“There are so many times when there are tough bills you have to vote for,” said Bense. “A tort bill, whatever it may be, where the press is just pounding you on the other side, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, whatever, they’re just killing you, and what James Madison was able to do was present to members the other side. Here are the facts. So you could debate those facts on the floor, and JMI didn’t go lobby members, it was, ‘here’s the other side of the coin.’ And I can’t tell you how important that is if you’re a member of the Florida House or the Florida Senate or Cabinet member, to hear an objective, bipartisan, we’re a little conservative, agreed, but here’s our side.”

Continue reading "Scott, Weatherford, Rubio celebrate "non-partisan" James Madison Institute" »

March 02, 2013

Ag Commish Adam Putnam attacks Gov. Rick Scott’s Medicaid move, but has big-spending record

@MarcACaputo

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s headline-grabbing criticism of fellow Republican Rick Scott over expanding Medicaid highlighted just how much the governor flip-flopped on government spending and entitlement programs.

But Putnam has a more extensive record of supporting expensive entitlements and big-government spending.

As a member of Congress from 2001-2011, Putnam voted for budget-busting legislation — including the massive Medicare prescription-drug entitlement program estimated to cost nearly $1 trillion over a decade. Putnam also stuffed the federal budget with hometown-spending and helped override vetoes by President Bush on what the White House called a “fiscally irresponsible” Medicare bill and a $300 billion farm bill.

Now, years later, Putnam called Scott’s call to expand Medicaid as irresponsible, costly and “naive.”

“Throughout my career as a public servant, I have fought for issues important to Floridians based on my belief in conservative values and smaller government,” Putnam said in a written statement.

Continue reading "Ag Commish Adam Putnam attacks Gov. Rick Scott’s Medicaid move, but has big-spending record" »

February 28, 2013

Flubbed Putnam tweet sends followers to anti-Rick Scott poll

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a vocal critic of Gov. Rick Scott's Medicaid expansion reversal, wrote an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel today about Florida's agriculture industry.

The tweet encouraging his followers to read the op-ed won't do much to quiet rumors that he may challenge Scott's 2014 re-election bid. The link takes followers not to his op-ed but to a Sentinel poll asking "Who's Rick Scott's biggest political threat?"

Putnamtweet

The first choice on the list of possible challengers? Putnam.

Putnam spokeswoman Amanda Bevis tells us Putnam did not send the link -- it was her mistake. She posted the right link on his Facebook page. Here's the op-ed.

"I inadvertently converted the wrong link to a URL short enough to post," she said.