June 12, 2016

Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson on the Orlando shooting

Here is what some Florida politicians are saying about the Orlando shooting:

Sen. Marco Rubio:

“I am devastated by this heartbreaking act of terrorism in Orlando. Jeanette and I join all Floridians and all Americans in grieving for those who lost their lives and praying for those who were injured in this senseless act of hatred, violence and terror. I want to thank the heroic police officers and first responders who prevented further loss of life, including the officer at the nightclub who first engaged the shooter. I would also like to encourage anyone living in Central Florida to donate blood to help the injured. As local, state and federal authorities investigate the perpetrator of this attack, my Senate office and I stand ready to assist - both by making sure the full weight of the federal government is used to hold anyone responsible for this incident to account, and also with any constituent service needs that arise for the impacted families. Confronting the threat of violent homegrown ‎radicalization is one of the greatest counterterrorism challenges our law enforcement and intelligence community faces. ‎We must do more at every level of government and within our own communities to identify and mitigate this cancer on our free society and prevent further loss of innocent life.”

Sen. Bill Nelson:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the victims of this horrific attack in Orlando. I have spoken with the FBI and there appears to be a link to Islamic radicalism. I have conferred with additional sources and they think there is likely a connection with ISIS. So as we all mourn the senseless loss of life and investigators continue to learn more, we must remain vigilant and remember that if you see something, say something.”

 

May 25, 2016

Marco Rubio reports another $100K from book sales

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio earned an additional $102,500 in 2015 from book royalties, his financial disclosure form shows. That adds to the $1 million or more he'd already earned from two books, chiefly An American Son published in 2012.

He also earned $9,016 for teaching at Florida International University. His wife shows "partnership distributions" for JDR Events but Rubio is only required to say it was more than $1,000.

Bill Nelson reported $49,100 in retirement income from his time in state government and about $5,600 from an IRA. More detail here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Zika funding inaction frustrates Florida members of Congress

via @learyreports

With Congress set to go on -- another -- vacation, Florida lawmakers are worried about Zika funding. 

Sen. Bill Nelson today sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter urging him to keep the chamber in session.

"Though the House passed a stand-alone bill to provide a mere $622 million and the Senate attached $1.1 billion in Zika funding as an amendment to a larger appropriations package, we are still weeks away, at best, from passing a final bill out of Congress," Nelson wrote. "Without the passage of a stand-alone Zika funding bill by the Senate, there is no clear path forward. I have tried repeatedly to pass a bill to fund the Administration’s request and send it to the House. Unfortunately, each attempt was blocked. For these reasons, I ask you to exercise your power as the Senate majority leader to take up consideration of a stand-alone funding bill (S. 2843) to address Zika, and to even delay the Memorial Day recess if Congress needs more time to pass the bill."

Sen. Marco Rubio was on the floor Tuesday making a similar call for action. "For all of us as Americans but especially for all of us as elected leaders, It is long past due to take this virus seriously. Because the virus is not just serious; this virus is deadly serious and so far, I must say that congress is failing this test.”

Rep. Vern Buchanan is asking House and Senate leaders to appoint conference members to work out differences on spending measures.

"The cost of delay is unacceptably high," Buchanan wrote in a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders. "We are seeing the effect of this disease in Florida, where mosquito season has already begun. Currently, Florida has more than a quarter of all U.S. Zika cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are expected to enter the U.S. mainland and begin infecting Americans within the next 'month or so.' "

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

May 04, 2016

Jose Javier Rodriguez revs up Florida Senate bid with help from special guests

Jjr fundraiser 0503

@ByKristenMClark

MIAMI -- If there was any doubt about the importance of District 37 in terms of Florida Democrats' desire to win back a few seats in the state Senate in November, look no further than the campaign kick-off of Jose Javier Rodriguez on Tuesday night in Miami.

Gathered with a few dozen family, friends and supporters at the Segafredo restaurant in Brickell, the two-term state representative had two high-profile Democratic guests in attendance to help him raise money: current U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens, was also there, hoping to see Rodriguez join his ranks next year.

Nelson spoke for about seven minutes, urging the crowd to open their wallets in support of Rodriguez so he can help bring back "common sense in our state Legislature."

"The Senate certainly works in a more collegial way than the House but then they’re going to have to work together all the more," said Nelson, himself a former state legislator. "If you bring people into the Senate like Representative Rodriguez and make him Senator Rodriguez then that’s what’s going to turn the tide. And that’s what’s going to turn the state of Florida back to a much more mainstream position, instead of an extreme."

District 37 is expected to be one of the more competitive contests in the state, with Rodriguez facing current Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, one of the chamber's moderate conservatives. (Mercedes Christian has also filed as an independent candidate in the race.)

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April 28, 2016

Three Floridians among Obama nominees to federal district bench

@jamesmartinrose

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated U.S. magistrate judges in Jacksonville and Ocala and a prominent Tampa lawyer for federal district court seats, adding their names to a backlog of dozens of judicial picks the Republican-controlled Senate has failed to confirm.

Obama named Magistrate Judge Patricia D. Barksdale of Jacksonville and Tampa white-collar defense attorney William F. Jung to the Middle District of Florida, and he chose Magistrate Judge Philip R. Lammens for the Northern District of Florida.

"There is a judicial emergency in the Middle District of Florida right now," Sen. Bill Nelson said. "Sen. Rubio and I have conferred on these three nominees, and even in this highly partisan environment, I'm hopeful that we can get them approved quickly."

Aides to Rubio confirmed that the two senators had worked together in recommending the Florida nominees to Obama.

Rubio, however, declined to say whether he would push for his Senate Republican colleagues to confirm them. Republicans are refusing to hold hearings or to vote on Obama's nomination last month of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

With 85 federal district seats unfilled nationwide, Florida has three of 28 vacancies deemed "emergency" by the U.S. Judicial Conference, the policy-making body for federal courts overseen by the Supreme Court.

The emergency designation is based on a combination of the length of vacancy and how many cases are pending before a court.

Both seats that Obama moved to fill Thursday for the Middle District of Florida are among the 28 emergency vacancies, with one seat empty since June 30, 2015, and the second seat unfilled since August 1 of last year.

The Middle District of Florida had 9,401 cases in 2015, which is considered a heavy load. It stretches from south of Naples on the Gulf Coast to the Georgia border and includes Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando.

Obama also nominated five other district judges to seats in Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

"Throughout their careers, these nominees have displayed unwavering commitment to justice and integrity," Obama said of his eight choices for judicial promotion. "Their records are distinguished and impressive, and I am confident that they will serve the American people well from the United States District Court bench."

The Senate on April 11 unanimously confirmed Waverly Crenshaw Jr., an African-American lawyer from Nashville, Tenn., to a federal district judgeship.

The Senate confirmed just 17 of Obama's judicial nominees last year, the fewest since 1960.

Before becoming a U.S. magistrate judge in 2012, Lammens was a federal prosecutor in Jacksonville, the city's No. 2 attorney and a civil trial lawyer in the torts division of the U.S. Justice Department. He earned his law and undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida.

A U.S. magistrate judge since 2013, Barksdale also previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Jacksonville. She, too, has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Jung is a founding partner of the Jung & Sisco law firm in Ocala, specializing in white-collar criminal defense. He was a federal prosecutor in Miami in the late 1980s and clerked before that for then-Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist. Jung received his law degree from the University of Illinois and his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University

 

 

 

  

April 27, 2016

Bill Nelson meets with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson met Wednesday with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

"Judge Garland is obviously qualified and should be confirmed as soon as possible," Nelson said in a statement after the meeting.

Garland has been working Capitol Hill, but most Republican senators, including Florida's Marco Rubio, won't sit down with him because they don't think the president should nominate a justice in his last year in office.

April 25, 2016

Bill Nelson weighs in on potential release of 9/11 report

via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday wrote to President Obama and appeared to question speculation, largely coming from former Sen. Bob Graham, that the 9/11 report shows ties to Saudi Arabia.  

The letter follows high-profile media appearances by Graham, who has strongly suggested a Saudi relationship with the terrorists.

Nelson's letter:

I understand that your administration may soon decide whether to declassify part or all of the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 report that have not yet been made available to the public.

As I’m sure you are aware, there is growing speculation that information contained in these 28 pages will show that Saudi Arabia provided support to those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I have read the 28 pages, and I have also read intelligence reports that debunk them.

If you declassify these 28 pages, I strongly urge you to also declassify intelligence reports that debunk them in order to provide the American people with a complete picture of this issue. 

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 21, 2016

Bill Nelson to kick off Miami lawmaker's Florida Senate bid

@PatriciaMazzei

State Rep. José Javier Rodríguez is bringing a big name to kick off his Florida Senate bid: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson will be the featured guest at a May 3 fundraiser at Segafredo, a restaurant in Miami's Brickell neighborhood, according to an invitation sent Thursday by Rodríguez's campaign.

The minimum suggested donation is $100.

On Senate floor, Bill Nelson renews call for $1.9B to fight Zika

via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson on Thursday filed legislation to fully fund President Obama's $1.9 billion request to fight Zika, saying the move was necessary amid "rumors" that appropriators have struck a deal for $1.1 billion.

"This is truly an emergency,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “I’m calling on our colleagues to approve the president's $1.9 billion in emergency funding request now in the immediate future. Not later. The cost of this inaction would be far greater, and the consequences way too devastating."

Republicans have given a mixed reception to calls for $1.9 billion, with some supporting it and others suggesting Obama first use the funding he has already secured. Sen. Marco Rubio supports Obama's request.

 

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

March 16, 2016

Florida politicians comment on Obama's SCOTUS nominee

@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans said even before there was a nominee that they wouldn't hold any hearings.

Here's what Florida politicians had to say about Garland's nomination:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat:

The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court and I take that responsibility very seriously. Today, the president nominated Judge Merrick Garland to serve on our nation’s highest court and I hope that the Senate is given a chance to fully consider this nominee.

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