November 15, 2011

SBA chief asks bosses to hold off discussing his reappointment

Ash Williams' bosses were poised to discuss his annual reappointment as executive director of the State Board of Administration during this morning's Cabinet meeting. But Williams asked them to push it back to the next SBA quarterly meeting in December, and SBA trustees Gov. Rick Scott, CFO Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi agreed.

That way, Williams said, they could examine reports of recent meetings of the SBA audit committee and investment advisory council, which are reviewing the agency's investment policies and procedures for public records requests at the request of Atwater. Members of the council agreed in a joint Monday meeting that Williams did not act inappropriately in the agency's $125 million investment in a hedge fund.

"I think the trustees should have the benefit of getting the final minutes and motions and a report directly from those advisory bodies before acting upon this reappointment," Williams said after his Cabinet update.

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State orders Goldman Sachs to repay investors for misleading sales tactics

Florida's securities regulators announced a settlement agreement with Goldman, Sach & Co. that has required the investment firm to back back an estimate $20 million in so-called "auction rate securities" because the company claimed they were liquid and secure when they were not.

From the OFR press release:

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January 31, 2011

Communicators, money-managers among this week's Movers and Shakers

Department of Management Services hires spokesman
Before joining DMS, Kristopher Purcell served as deputy director of communications for the Florida inaugural committee and associate director of communications for former President George W. Bush.

DOE spokeswoman moves to House
Erin Rock has left her job as the Department of Education's communications director for the Florida House. Her last day at DOE was Jan. 27. Rock is the new staff director of the House's Office of Public Information.

Moore Consulting Group announces MCG Advocacy
The communications firm's new public affairs arm will offer services such as coalition mobilization, media relations, message development and special event planning, among other tools. The team includes CEO Karen Moore; senior vice president Terrie Ard; managing director Nanette Schimpf; and directors Kirsten Borman, Shannon Colavecchio and Liz Shawen.

Jeff Atwater appoints staffers at Financial Services
Christina Smith, a Florida State University accounting grad, received a promotion. She moves from assistant director of Division of Accounting and Auditing to director. Terry Kester, former chief information officer at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, retains the title but moves to Atwater's agency. Kester had worked for the Republican Party of Florida from November 2003 to January 2007 as director of party development. And former Senate Majority Office staff director Allison Carter is the Department of Financial Service's new director of program management. Carter is expected to assess programs and find improvements.

Jennifer Green, owner of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, was named chairwoman of the board of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists. Her term is up January 2013.

David Browning joined Southern Strategy Group after raising millions for campaigns, including Scott's, during last year's elections. Previous employers include House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner and Sen. John Thrasher.

Scott transition team member Jon Bussey joined Tallahassee's National Strategies LLC as its vice president. The new gig follows stints as chief of staff for the Florida Department of Lottery and Department of Transportation.

So it's not Tallahassee, but ...
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio hired Cesar Conda as his chief of staff. Conda comes with conservative credentials, having previously worked for former Vice President Dick Cheney, 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Rubio's campaign.

News Service of Florida reports were used in this week's round-up. Don't forget to send your personnel news to Times/Herald reporter Katie Sanders at

October 25, 2010

Ausley to bike to West Palm to promote CFO bid

Loranne Ausley, the Democratic candidate for chief financial officer, will put her campaign on two wheels this week as she bikes from Tallahassee to West Palm Beach. Ausley, a triathlete, plans stops in Gainesville, Apopka and Lakeland before ending up in West Palm, near the hometown of opponent Jeff Atwater.

Ausley will begin the ride tomorrow and finish up Friday. (UPDATE: The campaign had earlier planned a break during the trip, but Ausley decided to ride four days straight.)

Ausley, who has been down in recent polls and outgunned roughly 3 to 1 on TV, has relied largely on a message of cleaning up corruption in state government. Some might deride the bike ride as a campaign stunt, but it surely is a grueling stunt. (You'll remember that at the time, some criticized Lawton Chiles' legendary 1,000-mile walk across Florida as a stunt as well.)

October 21, 2010

GOP issues landslide alert: We're beating Dems in early vote

Florida Democrats had been proudly touting the fact that they were doing better in absentee voting requests then they had in 2006, but the Republican Party of Florida has its own stats that could spell doom for every Democrat on a statewide ballot this year.

RPOF says that, for the first time ever, they've won the first two days of early voting. And compared to 2008 (the year of Obama, when Dems outperformed Reps), Republicans are doing far better in absentee voting requests and returns. If true and the trend continues, Democrats have a dim future. Maybe governor candidate Alex Sink could squeak by Republican Rick Scott, in large part because she'd not running as a Democrat and she's at times running away from President Obama. But the numbers suggest the Obama millstone will weigh her down as the red wave swamps Florida.

From RPOF:

Requested absentee ballots: Republicans lead by 228,930 – a 13.21% lead over Democrats. In 2008, Republicans had an 8.89% lead by Election Day. Then, President Obama only won by 2.8 percentage points after a massive ad blitz.

Voted absentee ballots: Republicans lead by 112,534 absentee votes – a 21.88% lead. In 2008, Republicans had a 10.8% lead on Election Day.

Early Voted: Republicans lead by 15,281 votes – a 11.32% lead (Monday and Tuesday). In 2008, Republicans were losing by 73,384 votes at this point in 2008. By Election Day, Republicans had lost the Early Vote by 23.97%.

"We don’t expect to win early voting, but any lead at all is shocking at this point and a testament to the incredible enthusiasm amongst Republicans," RPOF spokesman Dan Conston said.


October 14, 2010

Atwater ad ties Ausley to Pelosi

Jeff Atwater is out with a new TV commercial hitting CFO opponent Loranne Ausley. The ad tries to link Ausley with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and says Ausley is a "Tallahassee politician who wants total control of our money. Tough stuff from a campaign that has so far been pretty above board. The ad fails to mention, however, that Atwater's Senate pushed through (in a lean budget year) $2.2 billion in taxes and fees in 2009. Check out the ad (uploaded by the Ausley camp) below the jump.

October 12, 2010

Ausley TV spot hits on mess in Tallahassee

Here's CFO candidate Loranne Ausley's TV ad, heavy on the message of cleaning up the "pay to pay" culture in Tallahassee:

Jeff Atwater campaign spokesman Brian Hughes noted that his guy just pulled down five newspaper endorsements: "In the meantime, Ausley continues her campaign from the gutter. Ausley's commercial uses mops to claim that she'll clean things up. Well, it looks like Ausley needs those mops to clean up the trash and mud she's been slinging for months while hiding her liberal, tax-and-spend record."

October 08, 2010

Ausley urges Atwater to accept last-minute debate

CFO candidate Loranne Ausley today urged her opponent Jeff Atwater to accept a last-ditch debate -- on Oct. 28 in Miami for Univision. The Spanish-language station, which is sponsoring a debate today in the governor's race, has said that is the only date left that it can sponsor a debate.

"So I'm calling on Jeff Atwater to stop hiding, stop ignoring the issue of our state and his record, and have a debate," Ausley said. "No more excuses, no more stalling."

Earlier, a Florida Press Association/Leadership Florida debate for Cabinet races fell through after Atwater and AG candidate Pam Bondi didn't accept. Atwater's folks say they are considering the 28th: “We’re hoping to make it work,” said Atwater spokesman Brian Hughes. “But as you can expect, with 25 days left to go in a campaign, we can’t be everywhere all the time.” (Hughes points out they accepted the 21st, while Ausley's camp says it preferred both the 14th and 28th but would have taken the 21st if it were the only option.)

October 06, 2010

October 01, 2010

RPOF hits Ausley on property tax votes

The Republican Party of Florida is out with another installment of its "Costly Ausley" website, this time hitting CFO candidate Loranne Ausley for her votes against Republican plans in 2007 and 2008 to provide property tax relief.

The legislation allowed homeowners to take their "Save Our Homes" property tax savings with them when they moved to a new house. (You know, back when home values were spiking and people were getting higher property tax bills instead of lower ones.) A second bill to cap property tax rates passed the House but died in the Senate.

"Even in the toughest of economic times, costly Loranne Ausley refuses to give Floridians tax relief," RPOF Executive Director Ronnie Whitaker said in a statement. "With 11.7% unemployment, Floridians simply can't afford Ausley's tax-and-spend policies in the CFO's office." (We should note that the votes didn't occur exactly in the toughest of economic times...)

Here's the response from Ausley's press guy Kevin Cate: “Jeff Atwater has once again retreated to the comfort of the disgraced Republican Party of Florida. Floridians deserve a CFO who will speak up and hold politicians like Jeff Atwater accountable, not hide behind political parties and hoard money. This is a JV political hit job by a JV, and soon to be out-of-work politician.”