July 20, 2018

Republicans peddle false attack against a Miami doctor who doesn't like Rick Scott

Gov Rick Scott

@alextdaugherty

On Wednesday, Rick Scott's Senate campaign and the Republican Party responded to an anti-Scott ad by arguing that a Miami doctor who attacks Scott "refuses to accept Medicaid patients" after railing against Scott's healthcare record in the 30-second TV spot paid for by a Democratic super PAC. 

Turns out, they were wrong. 

On Thursday, The Daily Caller, a conservative outlet, ran an article that parroted the attacks on Dr. David Woosley, a South Florida internist who works at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Miami VA Medical Center. Their initial headline was "The Doctor in a Bill Nelson Medicaid-expansion ad doesn't accept Medicaid." 

But The Daily Caller updated their article on Friday with a new headline and the following editor's note: 

"The original published version of this article said Dr. David Woolsey himself does not accept Medicaid. While the Florida Department of Health states Jackson Memorial Hospital, the hospital where he practices, does not participate in Medicaid, the hospital clarified that it actually does accept patients on this program. Doctors are only permitted to accept insurance companies approved by the hospital or practice for which they work." 

The new headline is completely different: "Doctor in a Bill Nelson ad tries to hammer Rick Scott's health care stance." 

Scott's campaign initially aired the attack on Woosley in a press release on Wednesday, and the RNC followed suit on Thursday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee included the Daily Caller story in its weekly roundup of negative Senate news for Nelson. 

Senate Majority PAC communications director Chris Hayden, whose PAC spent $2.6 million on the advertisement, said the Scott campaign responded to a negative advertisement by lying about a constituent. 

"Dr. Woolsey treats patients with Medicaid at both of the hospitals he works at. He does not have a private practice," Hayden said in an email. "Florida's health care system is in a crisis and Governor Scott's response is to lie about a well-respected doctor. Governor Scott badly mismanaged Florida's health care system, and he should personally apologize for falsely attacking one of his constituents." 

Scott is spending tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to oust Nelson, Florida's only statewide elected Democrat. National groups are also expected to spend millions on a Senate seat that could decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.

UPDATE: Scott's campaign says their initial release pointed out that Woosley doesn't accept Medicaid based on the Florida Department of Health's website

"The release did NOT say that Jackson Memorial does not participate in Medicaid; it pointed out that this specific doctor has chosen not to participate," Scott spokesperson Kerri Wyland said in an email. "As a Florida doctor, he chooses whether or not to participate in the Medicaid program – with the knowledge that whatever answer he chooses will be publicly displayed for Floridians looking for healthcare professionals through the FLHealthSource webpage" 

 

 

Watch the ad below: 

July 16, 2018

Florida lawmakers blast Trump for not calling out Putin

Donald trump 2

via @learyreports

Florida lawmakers on Monday blasted President Trump over taking Vladimir Putin's word that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, a conclusion that stands in dramatic contrast to widely held views among the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill.

"I don't see any reason why" Russia would do that, Trump said in Helsinki.

"What the president said today is not accurate," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said during an Atlantic Council event.

Florida Democrats were the first to react and in sharper terms.

"The president's refusal to acknowledge that Putin interfered in our elections should alarm us all," Sen. Bill Nelson tweeted. "Putin is a threat to our democracy and our upcoming election, that's a fact. The president's unwillingness to stand up to him and defend our nation is unacceptable and embarrassing."

"Today @RealDonaldTrump became an illegitimate president when he showed the world that his loyalty lies more with than the people of the United States," Miami Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson tweeted. 

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio did not directly criticize Trump but did say "Foreign policy must be based on reality, not hyperbole or wishful thinking."

Rubio was more specific during an Atlantic Council event.

"What the president said today is not accurate," the Florida Republican said, adding that "all I can speculate" is that Trump was trying to be nice to Putin to establish a better working relationship.

"The flaw is that Vladimir Putin is not interested in a better working relationship," Rubio said.

Miami Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen directly criticized Trump. 

"The President's comments in Helsinki were deeply alarming," Curbelo said in a statement. "Russia's meddling in the 2016 election is fact – and the recent indictment from Director Mueller and the evidence it outlines proves that. It is unacceptable that an American President not only stood there and said nothing while Vladmir Putin spewed fiction at that press conference, but also questioned the hard work and findings of American intelligence and law enforcement investigators. The U.S. relationship with Russia has deteriorated to its current state because of Russia's criminal interference in our elections, lack of respect for human rights, and invasive and militant actions against its neighbors and our allies around the world. Blaming it on anything else, is unacceptable."

"No, @POTUS. Mueller investigation on election manipulation by is not 'a disaster for our country,'" Ros-Lehtinen tweeted. "It is law enforcement doing work our country needs it to do. What has 'kept us apart' is failure to condemn Russia, lack of any sign that you’ll stop it from happening again." 

Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart avoided directly criticizing Trump in his statement. 

"As our own intelligence experts and the House Intelligence Committee have asserted, Russia interfered in the United States' 2016 election just as it meddles in the elections of its neighbors," Diaz-Balart said in a statement. "Throughout the world, Russia is often on the opposite side of U.S. interests in crucial areas such as Ukraine, Syria, and Iran. Under Putin's charge, Russia has become increasingly undemocratic, expelling pro-democracy NGOs from its territory, suppressing independent media, ignoring human rights, and manifesting a perilous environment for journalists. We must remember that Russia is not an ally of the United States, and that those responsible for attacks on our democratic institutions must be held accountable."

July 02, 2018

Bill Nelson expects to oppose Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

Bill Nelson

via @adamsmithtimes

Sen. Bill Nelson shed his hyper-cautious reputation Monday, declaring that he expects to vote against President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Obviously I have to wait and see who the nominee is, but if, as President Trump has suggested, he's going to have a litmus test — and he said said this over and over — on Roe V. Wade, then I'm not going to be voting for some justice who's going to overturn Roe v. Wade," Nelson said following a Tampa news conference with local environmental advocates touting his record and criticizing Gov. Rick Scott's.

Nelson is among the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for reelection this year, and he faces intense pressure from both the left and right on what is probably the most consequential decision made so far by the president.

Nelson almost immediately faced pressure from both ends of the political spectrum, with liberals demanding he oppose Trump’s pick — or even allowing a vote — and conservatives seeking to exploit his running for re-election in a state Trump narrowly won.

Last week, am advocacy group called One Nation began running digital ad calling on Nelson to “say no to the left” and support Trump’s pick. The ad runs through Tuesday with a modest $10,000 behind it.

But “this is merely the first step in our full-fledged advocacy campaign for the nomination and confirmation of a constitutional conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said One Nation president Steven Law.

Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Nelson, released a video ad Monday that deemed the Democrat a “rubber stamp” for President Obama’s judicial nominees and noted that he “voted against Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch.”

Read more here.

June 26, 2018

Some children held at Homestead facility have been unable to contact their parents

DETENTION CENTER0005 JAI

@alextdaugherty @newsbysmiley

Federal authorities have been unable to reconnect all children separated from their parents at the border because some of those parents may have already been deported with their kids remaining behind in U.S. custody, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson’s staff said on Tuesday.

Eight children now held at a South Dade migrant shelter haven’t been able to contact their parents, Nelson said.

Nelson said Barbara Flotus, the Homestead migrant shelter employee in charge of getting the children in touch with their parents, has been able to put 62 of the 70 children in touch with their parents.

Nelson's office said Health and Human Services officials told them that the reason eight children have not been in contact with their parents is because HHS has been unable to locate the parents, possibly because the adults have been deported.

Of the parents reached, 60 of them have requested their child be placed with sponsors or relatives in the U.S. while two have requested their child be sent back to their home country, Nelson said.

HHS spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe did not confirm how many children at Homestead have been unable to reach their parents.

"Reunification is always the ultimate goal of those entrusted with the care of unaccompanied alien children, and we are working toward that for those unaccompanied alien children currently in our custody," Wolfe said in a email.

Nelson questioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar about the children separated from their parents t the border during congressional hearing on Tuesday.

"How many of those children have been able to be in contact by telephone with their parents from whom they were separated?" Nelson asked at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

"For any of them who have been separated from their parents at the time of the parents' detention by CBP (border patrol), within 2 hours of arriving at an ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) shelter, we endeavor to put them in touch, get them on the phone with their parents," Azar said. "Sometimes that can't happen, if for instance the parent has been located for criminal prosecution."

The Trump administration's decision to reopen a Homestead facility that once housed unaccompanied minors who tried to cross the border illegally during the Obama administration set off a spate of protests over the weekend, as lawmakers from both parties demanded an end to the Trump administration's practice that led to about 2,300 children being separated from their families.

Read more here.

South Florida Democrats lurch left with call to abolish ICE

Immigration_Oregon_Protests_40521

@alextdaugherty

Abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by starving it of cash is now in vogue among Democrats running for Congress in Miami.

Three of the five Democrats in a contested primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are in favor of abolishing the nation's immigration enforcement agency, a rallying cry of the far left that has gained rapid mainstream attention in recent weeks because of the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents when they cross the border illegally.

Former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman, former state Rep. David Richardson and former University of Miami academic advisor Michael Hepburn are all in favor of abolishing ICE by defunding the federal agency in Congress.

"The brutality of taking people out of their homes for 20 years has now sort of been fully seen," said Sean McElwee, an anti-deportation advocate who leads an ongoing abolish ICE effort on social media. "For a while, the only people I could get to agree with me were third-tier candidates, who I love and agree with but who don't have much of a chance...but now this has legs."

Over the weekend, four Democrats in Congress became the first elected officials in Washington to call for abolishing ICE. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan said Monday he plans to introduce legislation that would defund the agency, which has powers to conduct immigration checks within 100 miles of the border or coastline, a zone that includes the entire state of Florida.

Most Democrats don't want to abolish ICE, instead arguing that the agency's leadership and direction under the Trump administration is the problem, not the existence of the organization itself. McElwee estimates that about two dozen Democrats running for federal office out of around 1,000 declared candidates nationally have publicly endorsed abolishing ICE.

The two Miami-Dade Democrats running against Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, who aren't facing competitive primaries, aren't on board. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he "hasn't considered" defunding ICE.

"ICE should be targeting and arresting people that pose an imminent threat to others, not just rounding up innocent-even if undocumented-people," said Mary Barzee Flores, a Democrat running against Diaz-Balart. "It is neither reasonable nor practical to simply say 'let's abolish ICE,' but its enforcement priorities should be significantly adjusted."

"Abolishing ICE is not the answer," said Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running against Curbelo. "I believe the agency must correct its abuses and should dedicate its staff to protecting the country from actual threats, like child exploitation, human trafficking and drug-related crimes, instead of attempting to induce fear in immigrant communities."

But for Haggman and Richardson, two well-funded candidates seeking to beat former University of Miami President Donna Shalala in the Democratic primary for Ros-Lehtinen's seat, talk about abolishing ICE provides a way to differentiate themselves from an opponent with better name recognition and a way to sway far left-leaning voters in the primary.

Read more here.

June 25, 2018

Nelson says top Trump official barred him from seeing immigrant children in Homestead

Bill Nelson

@alextdaugherty

Bill Nelson was on his way to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children last Tuesday, attempting to gain access to the second-largest shelter in the country for children who crossed the border illegally by themselves or with their parents, when he called a top Trump administration official to get access. 

As he drove from Miami International Airport to South Dade, the Florida Democrat said he tried to call Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar but was instead referred to Deputy Secretary Eric Hargen.

Nelson said the number two official at the federal agency responsible for the Homestead facility told him it would take two weeks to schedule a tour.

"We had a rather heated conversation," Nelson said. "He said the policy of the department is that you fill out the forms, which I had done on Monday, and you have to wait two weeks. To which I replied 'Mr. Secretary, you and I both know that's bullhockey.'"

Nelson said the Trump administration's decision to deny his tour request was based on partisan politics as he fights for reelection against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a supporter of the president.

"It's pretty obvious that this was being directed from on high," Nelson said.

An HHS spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Two days after Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to visit the Homestead facility, HHS officials sent an email to lawmakers allowing them to request a tour of Homestead and other facilities around the country at predetermined times due to a high demand for visits. Lawmakers were not allowed to photograph or record their visits, and they were not allowed to speak with the children.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and about 20 members of the press toured the facility on Friday while Nelson and Florida Democratic Reps. Frederica Wilson, Ted Deutch, Darren Soto and Wasserman Schultz toured the facility on Saturday. Scott has not toured the Homestead facility yet, though other state-level elected officials were told on Saturday they also had to wait two weeks to enter.

Nelson also said he was unable to meet with the woman in charge of reuniting the children at Homestead with their parents, because she wasn't working on Saturday. He plans to speak with Azar in Washington on Tuesday.

 

June 20, 2018

Kids separated from their parents in Homestead are at the center of a political fight

Immigration Florida(3)

@alextdaugherty

Bill Nelson didn't show up for work on Tuesday, but he likely won't get dinged for it.

The Democratic senator fighting for reelection against Republican Gov. Rick Scott was 1,100 miles away from Washington, sweating in front of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children after being denied entry to the facility with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Dozens of news cameras surrounded him.

"This is not a good day for our country, where a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Congresswoman have been turned away from a federal facility because the Trump administration does not want us to check on the welfare and care of the children inside, children who have been taken from their moms and dads," Nelson said.

The moment has marked the most media exposure Nelson has secured during his Senate campaign so far. His face was plastered on front pages across the state and across evening newscasts, while his opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, saw his latest trip to Puerto Rico relegated to second-fiddle status.

The Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant children from their families after they attempt to cross the border illegally has turned into a political firestorm in Miami-Dade, where the presence of three facilities that house unaccompanied minors and children that were separated from their parents is the physical embodiment of a White House policy that is widely condemned throughout the country.

And it has given Democrats a chance to go on offense to blame the Republican Party for standing by as the Trump administration loses of nearly 6,000 children.

It puts Republicans, including members fighting for reelection, in a tough spot. Miami Rep. Rep. Carlos Curbelo has blamed the Trump administration for the situation in Homestead, which lies within his Miami-to-Key West congressional district, as he works with the Trump administration to stitch together support for an all-GOP compromise immigration bill in Washington.

"I do think that anytime a Member of Congress shows up at one of these facilities, they should be granted access," Curbelo said Wednesday morning. "It's the Congress that funds all of these government departments, and the administration should welcome members into these facilities to make sure they know exactly what is going on there so we can explain it to our constituents."

But even as Curbelo said that he would fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions for implementing the policy and asked him to stop it immediately, Democrats excoriated him.

Read more here

 

June 19, 2018

Nelson, Wasserman Schultz blocked from entering immigrant children shelter in Homestead

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@newsbysmiley @brendamedinar

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility where as many as 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are being held.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats, tried to enter the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a day after Wasserman Schultz announced that she'd learned Health and Human Services had transferred hundreds of children to the South Miami-Dade site. The center, which HHS says is only temporary, held unaccompanied minors during the Obama administration.

"The company running this facility told us we would be welcomed to tour the facility," Nelson said on Twitter. "HHS then denied us entry and said that they need 'two weeks notice' to allow us inside. That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something."

 

It remains unclear just what role the Homestead facility is playing in the new and controversial immigration crackdown under President Donald Trump. The center may be housing children who entered the country without parents, or housing them after authorities took them from their parents after the family entered the United States illegally, or a mix of both. An HHS spokesman has declined to clarify.

The facility closed last year amid a sharp decline in illegal border crossings under Trump, easing the flow of unaccompanied minors needing housing. Washington reopened the facility earlier this year without public notice, and the new population of minors did not receive media attention until Wasserman Schultz disclosed it during an event Monday.

Read more here.

June 18, 2018

Miami Republicans condemn Trump policy of separating families at the border

IMG_Economic_Impact_of_I_2_1_8BAO5GJG_L296697696 (4)

@alextdaugherty

Republicans from Miami-Dade on Monday condenmed the Trump administration's decision to separate families crossing the southern border, with adults being sent to detention centers while their children are housed in cages and cry for their parents.

"It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who, along with Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is leading negotiations on a compromise all-Republican immigration bill in Congress. "Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable. We cannot allow for this to continue happening, and it must stop. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the provision included in this week's immigration bill puts an end to this cruel practice.”

Curbelo called the separation policy "a tragedy" on Twitter over the weekend, and referenced former President Barack Obama's policy of detaining families and unaccompanied minors.

"While some tolerated it when it happened under the previous administration, I found it unacceptable then & I find it unacceptable now," Curbelo tweeted. "We’re crafting legislation to remedy this sad situation."

The White House announced the policy in April as a way to deter immigrants from entering the country illegally, and administration officials have defended it in the face of widespread criticisms from across the political spectrum.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio advocated for changing laws to allow families to stay together while being held in detention instead of separating them. Current law does not require separating families who cross the border illegally, and the compromise immigration bill includes a provision that would end the practice.

"Currently govt must either release parents & continue incentive for illegal entry with children or separate families by detaining parents," Rubio tweeted. "Neither is good. Lets change the law to allow families to be held together at family facilities & shorten detention with expedited hearings." 

Read more here.

June 15, 2018

Nelson offered this man up for a judicial position. Now he’ll vote against him.

Bill Nelson

via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson said today he will vote against a judicial nominee he offered up to the White House along with Sen. Marco Rubio, a remarkable turn that raises questions about Nelson's own vetting process as he tried to put the focus on the state's Judicial Nominating Commission

"Because of the information brought up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will vote against the confirmation of Allen Winsor," the Florida Democrat said in a statement that provided no specifics.

His office would not elaborate on the record.

Nelson and his staff interviewed Winsor, who has opposed same-sex marriage, before his name was submitted to the White House, along with a list of other candidates. A spokesman, Ryan Brown, would not answer questions about that vetting.

Nelson's statement punts to the JNC.

"For years, Florida's two senators have relied on a bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission to select our state's judicial nominees. This system, which was designed to take politics out of the process, only works if Florida's two senators agree to respect the commission's choices and jointly send the names they choose to the White House for consideration. This is exactly what we did in the case of Allen Winsor."

Winsor, picked to succeed U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle for a spot in the Northern District of Florida, was approved along partisan lines by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday and was sent to the full Senate for consideration. Democrats objected over his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Winsor was among the named Nelson and Rubio offered to the White House in December.

"We received the following unranked list of finalists on November 15, 2017: Martin Fitzpatrick, Jan Shackelford, Kent Wetherell, and Allen Winsor. We have separately interviewed the finalists. Subject to further review of their records and background, we are submitting them to you for the president's consideration," a letter read.

That means the White House picked Winsor.

As Gary Fineout of the Associated Press reported, Winsor is currently a Florida appeals court judge, but before he was appointed to that job by Gov. Rick Scott in 2016, he worked as solicitor general for Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Winsor was in that role when he defended Florida's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages that was eventually struck down. He was one of the lawyers who argued in a legal brief for the state that recognizing same-sex marriages from other states would "impose significant public harm" and that the state has a legitimate interest in defining marriage as between a man and woman.

Scott, who is challenging Nelson for Senate, issued a statement through the campaign.

"Bill Nelson is so partisan that a small group of out-of-state democrats can force him to vote against a Floridian that he interviewed, recommended and supported," spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said. "Despite claiming to be independent, Bill Nelson's own actions show that when democrats like party boss Chuck Schumer say 'jump,' Nelson's only question is 'how high?'"

Rubio in 2013 held up a judicial nominee — after submitting a JNC approved name to the Obama White House –amid objections from Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, now chairman of the Judiciary Committee.