April 13, 2010

First quarter fundraising roundup

Here are the highlights of the official first quarter fundraising numbers that came out last night. (With a helpful assist from Christina Johnson over at On3PR)

Toplines in the governor's race: Republican Bill McCollum raised just less than 1.4 million in the first three months of 2010, compared with Democrat Alex Sink's 1.1 million. Sink still holds the overall edge in campaign cash, though, with $5 million on hand compared to $3.8 million for McCollum. GOP challenger Paula Dockery has $410,000 on hand. That figure includes $280,000 in personal cash she has put into her campaign.

An interesting note in the AG race. Days before the official numbers came out, Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber announced an impressive haul of $330,000. Turns out that number was pumped up with about $100,000 worth of in-kind contributions. His actual cash haul was $218,000.

Other AG candidates: Sen. Dave Aronberg took in $259,000 to use in the primary against Gelber. On the Republican side: Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp raised $232k, Pam Bondi raised $222k and Holly Benson raised $198k.

Senate President Jeff Atwater and Congressman Adam Putnam both opened up wider leads in their races for CFO and Agriculture Commissioner. Atwater took in $446,000 and has almost $2 million on hand. His Democratic challenger, Loranne Ausley has $346,000 on hand. Putnam had about $1.2 million on hand, while Democrat Scott Maddox has $314,000.

April 09, 2010

Alex Sink gathers signatures against teacher tenure bill

Calling the legislation an unfunded mandate, Chief Financial Officer and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink circulated a petition against the so-called "tenure bill" Friday.

From the campaign: Florida's students, parents, teachers, and schools just suffered a serious blow: Late last night, Tallahassee politicians passed a bill dictating a rigid, one-size-fits-all policy to our local schools. Now, it is on Governor Crist's desk, waiting for his signature. And it's up to us to stop it.

It's time for Governor Crist to listen to the parents, students, and teachers he represents -- and oppose this bill before it hurts our schools and students.

With Governor Crist poised to make his final decision as early as today, we have to make our voices heard now on this issue. Please join me and speak out!

April 07, 2010

Florida senator: Republican Crist, Democrat Sink think alike

Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos linked Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to Democratic CFO Alex Sink in a partisan missive criticizing Crist for vetoing the leadership funds legislation.

"His uninformed veto comments did not reflect the stringent details of the bill, rather, it parroted the talking points of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink," Haridopolos, the bill's Senate sponsor, said in a statement issued by his legislative office.

Haridopolos and Crist -- who spent a good chunk of time campaigning together for GOP presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 -- disagreed about whether the bill would let leading lawmakers raise money during the legislative session, a practice that is currently banned.

Read his full statement below.

Continue reading "Florida senator: Republican Crist, Democrat Sink think alike" »

April 06, 2010

Sink bashes leadership funds bill

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and chief financial officer Alex Sink called on Gov. Charlie Crist to veto Tuesday a bill that would allow a few legislators to create powerful new fundraising machines known as leadership funds to influence future election cycles.
Read the press release below.

Continue reading "Sink bashes leadership funds bill" »

April 02, 2010

Crist takes responsibility for putting Greer at helm

In an interview, Gov. Charlie Crist said he is growing increasingly disillusioned with how former Chairman Jim Greer and the Republican Party handled secret contracts and spent money on party credit cards.

“It’s a mess,” Crist said in an interview. “This thing stinks.”

“A federal comprehensive investigation is ... fully appropriate,” he added, crediting CFO Alex Sink for suggesting the idea. “Particularly because of the significant IRS implications throughout this thing.”

Asked what took him so long, after months of demands from Democrats and Republicans for a federal investigation, he said: "I think it was being handled appropriately at the outset, based on what we knew at the time, and as I just said, the more facts you become aware of, the more concerned somebody who is fair and honest would become. And its simply a matter of that process."

Crist also acknowledged he put Greer at the helm. "I take responsibility for that but I think that again, once you become aware of what the facts are. I think an appropriate response is absolutely what is required. And I think it's required."

CFO Sink calls for special prosecutor to investigate GOP

Democrat CFO Alex Sink sent a letter to AG Bill McCollum (her gubernatorial rival) asking him to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate criminal activity at the Republican Party of Florida concerning former Chairman Jim Greer. This is the only way to avoid a conflict of interest, her letter states.

"It is only through a completely independent investigation that Floridians can have confidence that any criminal activity that may have occurred in the Republican Party will be properly addressed,” Sink said in a statement. “We need an independent prosecutor leading this investigation, and not a Cabinet agency.”

The request from Sink's office mirrors the one earlier in the week from Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman. McCollum played a key role in helping to oust Greer. When the party presented him with the latest audit showing the party paid a shell company Greer secretly owned, McCollum asked FDLE to investigate.

March 31, 2010

Dockery takes a stand; McCollum, Sink don't

The most heated debate in Tallahassee today is expected to concern Sen. J.D. Alexander's plan to close two state-run prisons to populate the private Blackwater prison in the Panhandle.

Where do the three leading gubernatorial candidates stand on the issue?

Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum dodged the issue and CFO Alex Sink, a Democrat, wasn't available for comment. Only upstart Republican candidate Paula Dockery, a state senator from Lakeland, took a stand. She called the deal "outrageous" and demanded a more thorough vetting.

McCollum's office issued a non-answer: "The Legislature is in the very early stages of the budget process, and I know they are facing tough decisions. I encourage them to continue to make public safety a top priority as they move forward in budget negotiations." His office didn't respond to follow-up questions.

And Sink's office said they couldn't reach her Tuesday evening.

As the candidates avoid the issue, state lawmakers worked behind closed doors late Tuesday to strike a compromise on Blackwater and the cuts to the Department of Corrections.

Continue reading "Dockery takes a stand; McCollum, Sink don't" »

March 29, 2010

FL poll: McCollum, boosted by health fight, beating Sink

Attorney General Bill McCollum’s decision to sue the federal government over health care reform looks like a political winner, according to a new poll showing that he has widened his lead over state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the race for governor.

The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey shows that 51 percent of registered Florida voters approve of McCollum’s lawsuit while 39 percent are opposed.

As the state appears to lean rightward, the Republican McCollum draws 49 percent support compared to the 34 percent who would vote for Sink, a Democrat, according to the poll of 625 registered Florida voters.

“The lawsuit probably gave McCollum a little lift and has put him in a strong position, but there’s more going on here,” said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker.

“The numbers that jump out at me is that he’s peeling off 24 percent of Democrats. She only draws 3 percent Republican support,” Coker said. “Also, there’s no gender gap. That’s a problem for Sink. A Democratic woman can’t win without the strong support of women.”

Continue reading "FL poll: McCollum, boosted by health fight, beating Sink" »

March 25, 2010

GOP wants records on Sink's ties to BofA

The Republican Party of Florida sent a huge public records request to Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink's office, looking for documents related to her former employer Bank of America and her husband, Bill McBride. The letter says the records are necessary to provide "full disclosure to the people of Florida in regards to state contracting" but political points are surely the main objective. For the request, read below.

This comes after Democrats requested documents about Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum's ties to his former lobbying partner, David Rivkin, who is suing the federal government on behalf of the Attorney General's Office. 

Continue reading "GOP wants records on Sink's ties to BofA" »

March 23, 2010

McCollum under fire for health care lawsuit, 'sweetheart' deal

CFO Alex Sink blasted Attorney General Bill McCollum on Monday for using Florida tax dollars to file a lawsuit against the health care legislation.

"He seems to be obsessed by Washington politics and not really acting in the best interest of Floridians," said Sink, a Democrat. "It's unfortunate that he's using taxpayer money to file a suite on behalf of the people of the state of Florida when in fact this legislation is going to provide help for many, many Floridians."

Sink contended McCollum, her GOP gubernatorial rival, was "playing party politics" and objected to his questionable contract with his former business partner, David Rivkin and Lee Casey with Baker and Hostetler. She suggested he should have opened the contract bidding to other law firms, as his legislative priority concerning contingency fee contracts would mandate.

"Certainly that's not appropriate in a situation like this," she said. He should have sought proposals "as opposed to providing sweetheart contract to someone he is very close with."

McCollum dismissed the suggestion.

"We hired the best constitutional lawyer possible in David Rivkin," McCollum said. "I have known David Rivkin for a long time. He is an excellent constitutional lawyer."

A spokeswoman for McCollum's office said Florida is paying Rivkin part of a fee split among the dozen attorneys general who filed suit. The fee is $250 an hour but Florida's portion is still undetermined. Here's the contract, which puts a cap of $50,000 on the bill.