February 21, 2014

UPDATE: For third time, Bill Nelson asks feds to investigate DEO

@mikevansickler

If one goes by the daily updates by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the problems plaguing CONNECT, Florida's $63 million unemployment benefits website, are mostly solved. The agency is reporting that it has fewer than 10,000 6,000 cases where claimaints have waited longer than a week, a drastic reduction from a caseload of more than 60,000 last month.

Of course, how much of that is due to repairs with CONNECT? Remember, the DEO hired 250 extra staffers to review these cases, at a cost of $165,000 a week, plus another $300,000 to lease space for the additional personnel. The DEO can't say because it can't rely on the accuracy of indicators from Deloitte about CONNECT's performance. 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who has twice already asked federal officials to intervene, remains unconvinced progress has been made. On Friday, he asked the U.S. Department of Labor's Inspector General to investigate for "possible waste, fraud or abuse stemming from the launch of a system that reportedly would result in unemployment insurance claims not being processed in a manner consistent with provisions in federal law requiring prompt payment to eligible individuals."

Here's the release: 

 

Continue reading "UPDATE: For third time, Bill Nelson asks feds to investigate DEO" »

February 05, 2014

Congressional Democrats blast Rick Scott for turning back on Medicaid expansion

@tbtia

Gov. Rick Scott made national headlines and disappointed his tea party base last year when he expressed support for using federal Medicaid expansion dollars to help uninsured Floridians get coverage. He supported the plan created by Senate Republicans to use the $51 billion in federal funding, but it was blocked by House Republicans at the end of the 2013 session.

At the time, Democrats criticized Scott for not doing more to back the Senate plan. Since then, it's gotten even worse with the governor refusing to say flat out whether he still supports Medicaid expansion and returning to old talking points criticizing the federal health care overhaul.

Recently, Scott's 2014-2015 budget proposal was silent on the Medicaid expansion issue although there are bills filed in the House and Senate to ressurrect last year's failed plan.

The governor's refusal to address Medicaid expansion has angered congressional Democrats who wrote a letter to express "extreme disappointment" that the subject was not discussed during his budget presentation last week.

"Governor, last year you said your conscience wouldn't allow you to stand in the way of an expansion," they wrote. "We hope your conscience now will compel you to at least ask legislators to find a way to get this done."

The letter is signed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. representatives Kathy Castor, Patrick Murphy, Joe Garcia, Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Frederica Wilson and Lois Frankel.

Click here to download the letter from congressional Democrats to Scott on Medicaid expansion.

December 18, 2013

Poll: Charlie Crist would wallop Bill Nelson by 13, matches up better v. Rick Scott

@MarcACaputo

Despite being a former Republican, Charlie Crist’s standing in his new party is so strong that he could wallop longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by 13 percentage points in a theoretical primary for governor, a new poll shows.

The survey, conducted by Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, also indicates Crist is still formidable in a general election and leads the incumbent by 4 percentage points among likely voters.

Scott fares better against Nelson, who has a mere 2-point lead over the Republican in a general election matchup, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted last month by Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates.

Continue reading "Poll: Charlie Crist would wallop Bill Nelson by 13, matches up better v. Rick Scott" »

December 03, 2013

Bill Nelson refutes Bill Nelson over new run-for-governor talk: "disregard it."

@MarcACaputo

If Sen. Bill Nelson hadn't repeatedly said that he really didn't want to run for governor, then maybe it would have been more believable that he really planned to campaign for the post.

And if all of the risks and problems associated with Nelson running for governor didn't exist (as detailed here), then maybe it would have been more believable that he planned to run for the post.

But Nelson clearly kept the door open a crack. Some advocates tried to blow the door of the hinges. And then Nelson did himself no favors by helping fuel the rumors when he told Politico he would basically hop in the race if Charlie Crist got in trouble.

Now Nelson is basically saying what he always said: never mind.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Asked about the gets-into-trouble remark on Tuesday, Nelson said he had just had a procedure done on his left knee, was on crutches and was trying to get on an escalator when a reporter approached him with a question about the governor's race and stuck an audio recorder or smart phone "in my face."

"I made some flip remark," he said. Asked what people should make of it, Nelson said, "you should disregard it."

When asked during an earlier news conference whether he's running for governor, Nelson said, "I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor. I have my hands full as senator."

November 19, 2013

How Sen. Bill Nelson might be better known as a country singer, sans pizzazz

@MarcACaputo

Sen. Bill Nelson isn't quieting talk from supporters that the Democrat might run for governor, which carries risks for his party as well as new Democrat and current candidate Charlie Crist.

The reasons for all that are outlined in Monday's column. The Sun-Sentinel's Gary Stein adds a new issue: Nelson isn't so well-known and he's boring to some, according to this column "Does Bill Nelson have the pizzazz to run for governor?"

"Here’s something that will surely get everybody in Florida excited.

"Bill Nelson might run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"Half of you might be saying 'Who is Bill Nelson?'

The other half are saying  “Is he the country western singer?"

Column here

***Blog note: The original post had a messed-up headline and, in trying to unmess it, I deleted the original post.

November 15, 2013

Charlie Crist's first cash haul: $872k in 13 days (includes a Jeb-ite in the Crist pile)

@MarcACaputo

Former Gov. Charlie Crist still has a Midas touch for fundraising even though he's in his second political party (now a Democrat after being an independent and a Republican), having pulled in $812,000 $872,000 between  Nov. 4 and Nov. 16.**

Caveats: It's soft money (i.e., limitless un-capped cash one can raise from a donor or a few donors) contributed to his committee, Charlie Crist for Florida. The campaign "hard" money has yet to be reported. And Gov. Rick Scott is still the soft-money king and plans to have as much as $100 million to spend. Crist hopes to have at least half of that amount.

Also, it will be tough for Crist to keep pace. He's not a current office holder, so he lacks that leverage. And now some people affiliated with Sen. Bill Nelson are trying to keep the door open for the senior Democrat (who has told time and again that he doesn't want to run and doesn't intend to), but in doing so, the Nelsonites run the risk of freezing some Florida and DC donations to Crist, the Democrats' frontrunner.

Of interest: There's a Jeb Bush-ite in the Crist donor pile: David Rancourt, former Bush insider and now-retired lobbyist. Most of Crist's money is from trial lawyers because he is, well, a trial lawyer and they're among the deepest pockets for Democrats

**Note: Between the time we posted this and noon, Crist's folks added four more contributions, boosting the total. Here's the new list:

Barbara Stiefel  $100,000
Sheldon J. Schlessinger P.A.  $  25,000
Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A.  $  25,000
Mayville and Associates  $    5,000
James Savko  $    5,000
Rosalie Danbury  $100,000
William Merlin, Jr.  $  10,000
The Yerrid Law Firm  $  10,000
Francoise Haasch-Jones  $    4,000
George Chandler  $    1,000
Rosalie Danbury  $  50,000
William Andrew Haggard  $100,000
David Rancourt  $  50,000
Grossman Roth, P.A.  $250,000
Oakland Investments, Inc.  $  25,000
John Uustall  $  25,000
Michael Cohen  $  10,000
Michael Moskowitz  $    5,000
Timothy Ritvo  $    2,000
Robert Kelley  $  25,000
Robert O'Neil  $  10,000
Moskowitz, Mandell,   $    5,000
Las Olas Recovery, LLC  $    5,000
Bob Poe  $  25,000
   $872,000

November 08, 2013

Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest

Segovia Tower Coral GablesPresident Obama arrived in Miami Friday afternoon to headline three Democratic Party fundraisers hosted by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.

Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Mike Bennet of Colorado. 

Continue reading "Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest" »

October 30, 2013

Bill Nelson wants feds to investigate Florida's unemployment website

via Brittany Davis, @brit_alana

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for a federal investigation into problems plaguing Florida’s new unemployment website.

The Florida Democrat has asked the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate what is going wrong with the $63 million overhaul, which has erroneously blocked some jobless people from applying for their benefits.

Continue reading "Bill Nelson wants feds to investigate Florida's unemployment website" »

October 29, 2013

After Twitterbomb, Nelson agrees to sign Employment Nondiscrimination Act

@SteveRothaus

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat, has signed on as a co-sponsor of ENDA, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, reports HRC.

Last week, Equality Florida pressured Nelson to become a co-sponsor by Twitterbombing him. Last April, Nelson reversed his position and became the 51st U.S. senator to support marriage equality.

From Huffington Post:

There are now just two Democratic senators -- Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) -- who are not co-sponsors of the legislation, which would bar workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability.

 

 

October 27, 2013

Wasserman Schultz: Obamacare's working, Rubio's delay plan is "baloney"

@MarcACaputo

ImageIt’s tough to find an Obamacare success story.

But one of them– Plantation resident Carolyn Newman – found her local congresswoman, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who's touting her case to pushback against Republican criticisms that the Affordable Care Act is a failure because of the problems plaguing its website.

“Obamacare is working,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters Saturday. “It’s working, and when we get the website kinks ironed out, we’re going to make that everybody has access to quality affordable care.”

A 50-year-old cancer survivor, Newman got a letter from insurer Florida Blue that informed her Sept. 26 that it was she cancelling her high-risk plan.

But then came the good news, she said: The plan they were offering had more benefits and a significantly lower monthly premium cost, $640.82 – 49 percent less than she pays now.

“I think I’m going to frame that letter,” Newman told The Herald in a recent interview.

Continue reading "Wasserman Schultz: Obamacare's working, Rubio's delay plan is "baloney" " »