May 09, 2017

Putnam to kick off campaign for governor with bus tour

IMG_Adam_Putnam_AP_5_1_8JB0OFS6_L304357939
via @adamsmithtimes

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will kick off a 10-day bus tour following his official announcement at the old Imperial Polk Courthouse Wednesday in Bartow. Nice to see an old campaign tradition hasn't entirely died off. Here's the schedule:

Wednesday, May 10               

Bartow, Florida

Thursday, May 11                  

Dover, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Friday, May 12     

Naples, Florida

Ft. Myers, Florida

Saturday, May 13                  

Sebring, Florida

Okeechobee, Florida

Monday, May 15                     

Riviera Beach, Florida

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Miami, Florida

Tuesday, May 16                    

Vero Beach, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Wednesday, May 17               

The Villages, Florida

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Thursday, May 18                 

Fernandina Beach, Florida

Panama City, Florida

Friday, May 19                      

 Pensacola, Florida

Destin, Florida

Graceville, Florida

Saturday, May 20                   

O’Brien, Florida

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Steve Cannon, Associated Press

May 01, 2017

Adam Putnam formally launches bid for governor

Putnam_adam apday 013117 (1)

via @adamsmithtimes

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam today filed papers to run for governor in 2018, making official what has long been expected.

Putnam: “I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home. It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms. I hope everyone will join me on May 10 at 11:00 a.m.on the old county courthouse steps in Bartow, where I’ll share my vision for Florida’s future.”

Democratic former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee has an announcement scheduled for tomorrow in Miami-Dade County that is expected to make her bid for governor official too.

Photo credit: AP

April 14, 2017

Conservative groups pushes Ron DeSantis to run for governor

  DesantisAP

@JeremySWallace

A conservative political action committee is trying to rally national support around U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in hopes he will run for governor of Florida in 2018.

The Madison Project, which backed DeSantis's brief 2016 U.S. Senate campaign, put out a statement on a popular conservative website telling readers that DeSantis should run.

"He's not just a regional candidate - Ron is a Congressman who has worked hard to represent the entire state of Florida," the statement attributed to Madison Project president Jim Ryun says. "Running for governor is a no brainer for him."

The statement was on The Resurgent, a popular blog site created by Erick Erickson, a conservative radio host and political commentator. The same site also ran results from a poll from WPA Intelligence claiming DeSantis matches up well with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican expected to run for governor next year. WPA Intelligence was a pollster for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in his campaign for the White House.

According to The Resurgent, which says it had "exclusive access" to the poll of more than 2,000 Republican Primary voters, Putnam is the choice of 17 percent, while DeSantis is next at 9 percent. The poll showed Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and State Sen. Jack Latvala at 3 percent each, according to The Resurgent report.

"While DeSantis may trail Putnam at this early date, with 52% of voters undecided and 51% not knowing who he is, this race is wide open," The Resurgent story declares.

The Times/Herald has not been able to verify the poll results.

DeSantis, 38, is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and has represented parts of northeast Florida in Congress since 2012. When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio first announced he was going to run for President, DeSantis was quick to file to run for the U.S. Senate to replace him. When Rubio re-entered the race, DeSantis dropped out of the contest and instead won re-election to the U.S. House. During that short-lived campaign for Senate, the Madison Project and Ryun also endorsed DeSantis over a field of Republican candidates.

DeSantis is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

April 13, 2017

Adam Putnam hosts BBQ for supporters in May

PutnamBBQ

@JeremySWallace

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican most expected to run for governor in 2018, is inviting his supporters to a BBQ in his hometown, just five days after the Legislature is expected to wrap up its annual spring session.

"We are having our Florida Grown Hometown BBQ on Wednesday, May 10th, and I wanted to make sure you got an invitation," Putnam said in a email blast sent to supporters.

Florida Grown is the name of a political committee Putnam opened in 2015 that has raised more than $10 million as of March 31, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The event is in Bartow in Polk County at Old Polk County Courthouse.

April 12, 2017

Democrats file complaint against Putnam, alleging campaign finance violations

Adam Putnam APAgriculture Commission Adam Putnam’s decision not to disclose in detail how he uses the funds received by his political committee has drawn a complaint before the Florida Elections Commission.

The Democratic Governors Association, the partisan political organization determined to defeat Putnam when he announces a campaign for governor later this year, filed the complaint Wednesday accusing him of violating state law.

Citing a March 24 story in the Miami Herald, the complaint alleges that Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, gave $1.3 million in lump sum payments to the consulting firm run by his top political consultant, Justin Hollis, without detailing where the money goes in an alleged violation of a law that requires disclosure of individual expenditures when 80 percent of the costs are paid by the political committee.

“By only reporting the purpose of these expenditures as ‘consulting’ or ‘political consulting,’ Florida Grown PC is withholding relevant information that the Florida Election Code intends for political committees to disclose under Section 106.07(4)(a)(13),” wrote Elisabeth Pearson, executive director of Washington-based DGA.  Download FL Complaint_4.11 DGA Letterhead

“We request this commission immediately launch an investigation into these claims and take appropriate remedial action against Florida Grown PC,” she concluded in the three-page complaint. Story here. 

 

March 26, 2017

Adam Putnam and the political committee disclosure that fails to disclose

Adam Putnam APAgriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised more than $9.4 million for a 2018 governor’s race he has yet to announce and, in the last two years, spent $1.8 million of it on a Lakeland-based political consulting firm that has failed to disclose how the expenses were paid.

According to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, 70 percent of the $2.6 million spent by Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, went to Silloh Consulting, operated by Justin Hollis, the 36-year-old political consultant and real estate investor who manages Putnam’s political fund.

Nearly $1.3 million in lump sum payments went for the purpose of political consulting, according to the reports.

How much of that was used to compensate vendors, pollsters, fundraisers, advertisers, opposition researchers, media interests and others? His report doesn’t say, raising legal issues about whether the report is in compliance with state campaign finance law that requires all major expenditures to be reported, and federal tax law, which requires that political committees disclose the campaigns for which they are operating.

“The purpose of the law is: who gave it, who got it,” said Mike Cochran, who wrote much of the existing disclosure laws as the legal counsel at the Department of State’s Division of Elections in the 1990s and is now retired from state government. “If the expenditures are being made with the intent to not disclose, that would be something that is potentially a violation of the elections code.”

According to Division of Election records, Florida Grown paid Silloh Consulting more than $14,350 for advertising, $16,300 for event expenses and supplies, $1,488 for food and beverage, $4,300 for meals, phones and utilities. But $1.3 million, and more than 50 individual checks as much as $92,000, were written for “political consulting,” “consulting,” or “management consulting.”

Hollis defended the practice, saying it was not a story. He said it is not accurate to conclude that he is personally making as much as $75,000 a month for the funds received by his consulting firm but would not explain how the practice complies with Florida campaign finance law.

“Silloh Consulting is a Florida-based small business that consists of multiple individuals and offers a myriad of political consulting services, including fundraising, event planning, communications and outreach, among others,’’ he said in a statement.

Abby DuPree, the Florida Grown treasurer, and Richard Coates, the committee’s lawyer, declined requests for comment. Putnam is a Republican who is widely expected to announce his candidacy for governor later this year.

State election law requires any political committee to detail “the full name and address of each person to whom expenditures have been made by or on behalf of the committee or candidate within the reporting period” and specifies that the “primary purpose of an expenditure shall be that purpose ... that comprises 80 percent of such expenditure.” More here. 

Photo credit: Associated Press

 

March 08, 2017

Bondi, Putnam, Atwater say they didn't seek out gun exemption. Senator says one of them did.

IMG_2089

@ByKristenMClark

Three of Florida’s four highest-ranking elected officials — and potentially the lieutenant governor and the state’s 160 lawmakers, too — could be able to carry guns almost anywhere in the state under a special carve-out in Florida law being considered by the Legislature.

Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, who filed SB 646, said one of the three members of the Florida Cabinet “approached” him about proposing the exemption, which would let the Cabinet members carry concealed anywhere in Florida where federal law doesn’t prohibit guns, so long as they have a concealed-weapons permit.

That means — unlike most of the rest of the state’s 1.7 million concealed-weapons permit-holders — those statewide elected officials could be armed in the state’s 15 “gun-free zones,” such as in public schools, airport passenger terminals, police stations, government meetings, athletic events and bars.

RELATED: "These are gun law changes Florida lawmakers could take up in 2017"

Steube would not say which Cabinet member — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — wanted the law changed for their benefit. Each of those offices is elected by voters statewide; Gov. Rick Scott oversees Cabinet meetings but is not himself a member of the Cabinet.

“I had a member that approached me, and they don’t have FDLE or trooper security full-time,” Steube told reporters Tuesday, referring to the security provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol.

However, spokespeople for Bondi and Atwater, and Putnam himself explicitly told the Herald/Times that they had not asked for the provision or were involved with Steube’s bill.

Read more here.

Photo credit: From left: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi sit with Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera and Gov. Rick Scott during the opening day of the 2017 legislative session on Tuesday, March 7. Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

March 07, 2017

Cabinet members unaware of proposed provision exempting them from 'gun-free zones'

FLCAB

UPDATE: The bill was postponed. But Steube said after the meeting that one of the three Cabinet members — either Bondi, Atwater or Putnam — asked for the carve-out in state law. He won’t say which, but each told the Herald/Times they had no involvement in the proposal. More here.

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@ByKristenMClark

Among many gun bills Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube has filed for the 2017 session, one proposal being considered for the first time Tuesday calls for letting the three members of the Florida Cabinet carry guns virtually anywhere -- so long as they have a concealed weapons permit and federal law doesn't prohibit guns in that location.

Each of the Cabinet members -- Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- said they were unaware until contacted by the Herald/Times this week that Steube had proposed exempting them from the state's "gun-free zones."

But only one Cabinet member -- Atwater -- would say whether they themselves might be affected by the potential law change.

Continue reading "Cabinet members unaware of proposed provision exempting them from 'gun-free zones'" »

February 08, 2017

Will $100 million for citrus tree compensation be the biggest member-project ask?

Canker 1997Florida homeowners who lost their beloved citrus trees to the failed canker eradication program 17 years ago could be compensated this year under a $100 million budget request being filed this week by a Miami lawmaker.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz wants the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to make good on four court rulings ordering the state to pay more than 114,000 homeowners in Broward, Palm Beach, Lee and Orange counties whose citrus trees were cut down between 2000 and 2006 to curb the spread of citrus canker.

State agriculture inspectors deployed crews with chainsaws to chop down 577,253 orange, grapefruit and key lime trees throughout the state — even if the trees showed no signs of infection.

Outraged property owners representing counties with 94 percent of the lost trees joined five class action lawsuits to seek compensation. In four of the cases, the court ordered the state to pay more than $100 million in judgments, attorneys fees and interest. The fifth case, involving Miami-Dade residents who lost 40 percent of the healthy trees removed in Florida, is still pending.

The budget request filed by Diaz — and a similar one expected to be filed in the Senate by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami — is likely the largest member project to be filed this session in the House. Under new House rules, every budget request made by individual members must be filed and voted on as a separate bill.

Diaz, who chairs the powerful House Commerce Committee, said it is time the state compensate Floridians “whose property was illegally taken through no fault of their own.”

“Anyone who was in Florida for the citrus canker scare knows of someone who had their property taken away and who never received a dime for it,” he told the Herald/Times. “There are tens of thousands of Floridians who were stripped of their citrus trees and are still wondering why the state has not made them whole.” Story here. 

January 31, 2017

Ag Commissioner Putnam: 'We need to make workforce development a priority'

Putnam_adam2 apday 0131 kmc

@ByKristenMClark

Although Republican Gov. Rick Scott has made jobs and business incentives a staple of his administration, a statewide official who might seek to replace him in next year’s election says Florida needs to do a better job of making sure its residents are actually qualified to fill in-demand jobs and be hired by the companies that move here.

“The talent pipeline is not in place,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told reporters Tuesday. “The worst of all worlds is for us to recruit contracts or recruit businesses to Florida and not be able to staff the pipeline to meet their talent needs.”

More here.

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau