June 16, 2013

Amid governor's-race controversy, FL Dems boast they'll still whip Rick Scott

@MarcACaputo

              Florida Democrats’ best candidate for governor right now isn’t a candidate and wasn’t always one of them.

And party leaders caused a stir by snubbing a longtime candidate and party stalwart.

But when the elites of the Florida Democratic Party met Saturday for their annual fund-raising gala, they suggested none of that was really a big problem for one big reason: Rick Scott.

The unpopular Republican governor looks like an easy target for an incumbent.

“Whoever the Democratic nominee is will beat Rick Scott,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “We will win the governor’s mansion next November. There’s not any question.”

Even before the Jefferson-Jackson dinner began, Florida Democratic Party leaders said it was a success, bringing in a record $850,000.

More here

June 12, 2013

Sequester battle over national guard intensifies: Koon calls out Nelson

In a sharply-worded letter to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management calls into question his conclusion that the federal budget cuts to the Florida National Guard could be offset with the swipe of a pen by the governor.

Some background: Gov. Rick Scott suggested in a letter to Nelson that he work with the Obama administration to halt the forced furlough on the technical full-time staff of the Florida National Guard during hurricane season. Nelson responded that the governor could order the guard into action, despite the federally forced furloughs, and get full reimbursement from FEMA. 

Now Bryan Koon, head of the Florida Division of Emergency Action, pens a letter to Nelson and suggests that's wishful thinking:

"To summarize, the claim that the federal government will cover the increased costs associated with sequestration would set precedent, and most likely would not occur,'' he wrote, noting that the state only recently received full reimbursment for expenses from Hurricane Andrew -- 21 years ago.

Koon argued that the state must first deploy its national guard troops before it requests a disaster declaration and that would not be likely reimbursed. No word yet back from Nelson. 

Here's the text of the letter:  Download FDEM Letter to Senator Bill Nelson 6.11.13

Continue reading "Sequester battle over national guard intensifies: Koon calls out Nelson" »

May 21, 2013

Bill Nelson questions "social welfare" designation of nonprofit political groups

@MarcACaputo

The IRS' tea party-targeting scandal got its second congressional hearing today, this time in the Senate Finance Committee, where top Democrats like Florida Sen. Bill Nelson felt as if the tax agency was letting too many political groups wrongly hide behind nonprofit status for "social welfare" groups.

Of course, the IRS tried to stop it but wound up profiling some conservative groups. And that runs afoul of the agency's efforts to remain nonpolitical.

Republicans and conservatives smell a political cover-up.

The IRS worker at the center of the case, Lois Lerner, is going to plead the Fifth Amendment.

The American Spectator notes that President Obama met with an IRS union chief the day before the agency began targeting nonprofit groups for review.

Obama, incidentally, said he knew nothing of the incident until it was publicized. And the Treasure Department, so far, said it was only advised of what happened once an Inspector General began examining the case.

During today's hearing, Nelson wanted to know why the IRS didn't do more.

"How could you all in the IRS allow the tax breaks funded basically by the taxpayer [spent] on these political campaign expenditures?" Nelson asked. "Can you all shed some light, please?"

"What we've seen in the course of the last two campaign cycles is enormous money running through through these c4 organizations...I understand the king’s English, and it says the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns. Now, how you interpret that to say that that does allow some intervention in political campaigns is beyond me.”

May 06, 2013

Democrats urge Medicaid special session, Weatherford says it 'doesn't make sense'

Pressure is mounting on Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session to end the Legislature's impasse on Medicaid expansion. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the 14 Democratic members of the Florida Senate sent separate letters today making that very request, but Scott isn't likely to oblige them if he doesn't think Republican lawmakers are ready to deal.

At stake is $51 billion in federal funding to providing insurance coverage to 1 million low-income Floridians. House Republicans blocked that from happening during the regular session, which ended Friday.

Neither Scott nor Senate President Don Gaetz  have said they would support reconvening the Legislature to address the issue. House Speaker Will Weatherford was cool to the idea when the Times/Herald spoke to him today.

"I don't know what it would achieve," Weatherford said. "Unless there was an agreement of what the session would do, calling one doesn't make sense. We would have to have some agreement on policy, other than drawing down on federal funds."

Weather would not say what type of alternative plan he thinks would make a special session a good idea.

Scott may not be keen on calling a special session if he's not assured the Legislature is fully on board and ready to compromise. In 2010, the Florida House famously adjourned a special session convened by then Gov. Charlie Crist after only 49 minutes of work, rejecting his proposal to initiate a ballot referendum on offshore drilling.

Continue reading "Democrats urge Medicaid special session, Weatherford says it 'doesn't make sense'" »

April 28, 2013

More on that Bill Nelson v. Rick Scott rumor here

Bill Nelson looked like the heavy favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to unseat vulnerable Republican Gov. Bob Martinez in April 1990. But as Martinez continued to beef up his reelection campaign account and then-U.S. Rep. Nelson remained little known to much of Florida, Democrats fretted over Nelson’s prospects.

Soon former Sen. Lawton Chiles confirmed the bombshell rumor: Yes, he would run for governor. Nelson gamely continued campaigning, but it was hopeless against the popular elder statesman. “Walkin’ Lawton” went on to crush Nelson by more than 30 percentage points and then Martinez by 13 points.

More than two decades later, U.S. Sen. Nelson is the elder statesman of Florida’s Democratic Party, and the buzz is growing about him stepping into the governor’s race to take on unpopular incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. With many Democratic leaders worried about the baggage of former Gov. Charlie Crist, Nelson has emerged as the potential savior of Florida Democrats.

The latest noise came Thursday when Roll Call, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper, reported on its web site that Nelson was mulling over a possible run.

“I’d say that’s true, that he’s considering it,” Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin told the newspaper. “An awful lot of people have contacted him and asked him to do so. But — and as he’s said a number of times — he presently doesn’t have any intention of running. He’s got a job to do as a senator.” More here from Tampa Bay Times' Adam Smith.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/27/3355862/will-it-be-senator-bill-nelson.html#storylink=cpy

April 16, 2013

Will do-nothing Congress kill lawmakers call to fight $5b tax-ID fraud industry?

@MarcACaputo

Tax Day is no longer just a deadline for citizens to rush and file their returns.

It’s now a day for members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike —to file legislation or announce ways to prevent an estimated $5 billion in tax-identification fraud, which is particularly virulent in Florida and especially South Florida.

The effort by local lawmakers is nothing new, nor is the fact that the measures have died year-after-year in a do-nothing Congress.

On Monday, Miami-area Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Garcia and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen all promoted legislation to put an end to the practice. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson announced a bill last week.

“Something needs to be done,” said Jon Simpkins, a Miami-Dade businessman who appeared with his wife, a tax-ID fraud victim, at Garcia’s press conference.

It took the Internal Revenue Service until April 8 to supply the family their tax-refund money from last year — a week before this year’s tax-filing deadline.

“I’m surprised they haven’t fixed this yet,” Simpkins said, detailing the delays and difficulties of just getting the IRS to do its job.

Continue reading "Will do-nothing Congress kill lawmakers call to fight $5b tax-ID fraud industry?" »

April 15, 2013

Charlie Crist vulnerabilities are fueling speculation over Nelson running for governo

From @AdamSmithTimes

Major Democratic financial backers, including trial lawyers and teachers, are gushing about Charlie Crist and his prospects for 2014. Crist has not announced plans to run for governor again, but polls show him trouncing Republican Gov. Rick Scott by double digits.

The lifelong Republican-turned-Democrat at this point looks like he could grab the Democratic nomination without even a serious challenge. But oh-so-quietly, veteran Democratic fundraisers and strategists across Florida worry about another scenario: a Charlie Crist train wreck that would ensure a second term for one of America's most vulnerable Republican governors.

The wariness and even downright hostility to Crist's candidacy are part of what's fueling speculation about Sen. Bill Nelson entering the race. Story here. 

 

April 09, 2013

From fraud-ridden Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson targets tax ID theft

@MarcACaputo

IRSWith nine of the United State's top 10 tax-ID fraud cities in Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson is again backing legislation to crackdown on the $5.2 billion crime.

The cities:

1 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 35,914 645.4

2 Naples-Marco Island, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,279 397.8

3 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 9,805 352.3

4 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,810 292.5

5 Tallahassee, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,060 288.5

6 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,692 281.0

7 Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,156 272.6

8 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 12,992 246.6

9 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,720 244.9

10 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,991 233.8

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "From fraud-ridden Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson targets tax ID theft" »

April 04, 2013

Bill Nelson flip flops on gay marriage, backs it

Sen. Bill Nelson has reversed his opposition to gay marriage, becoming the latest senator to do so. Now, only six Democrats in the chamber are opposed to gay marriage. In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, he wrote: It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today "... that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all. --- Alex Leary

March 27, 2013

Bill Nelson has 'no intention' of running for gov, stays mum on Crist

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he is not planning to run against Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 governor's race but stopped short of completely ruling it out.

"I'm not planning to run for governor," he said Wednesday in Tallahassee. "I have no intention of running for governor. I've got plenty to do as serving as the senator of this state, and that's why I'm here today, in my role as senator."

Will you say that you won't run for governor? a reporter asked. "I said what I said," Nelson replied

Continue reading "Bill Nelson has 'no intention' of running for gov, stays mum on Crist" »