July 08, 2016

Annette Taddeo's hitting mailboxes -- and rival Joe Garcia


For the past three weeks, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo has been introducing herself to targeted voters with mail pieces outlining her personal story. 

She's "a working mother who will challenge the status quo," says one flier. She's "a true Democrat fighting for South Florida," says another. All four biographical pieces show her campaigning in 2014 as Charlie Crist's running mate.

A fifth, more recent mailer focuses instead on her Democratic primary rival, former state Rep. Joe Garcia. It attacks him over two investigations that roiled his 2012 and 2010 congressional campaigns. Garcia's former chief of staff, Jeffrey Garcia, no relation, ended up in jail and on probation; Joe Garcia was never charged.

"Joe Garcia has changed," the flier says. "Many South Floridians have supported him in the past, but politics and money have corrupted him."

The flier also tries to tie Garcia to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the now-defunct Trump University -- a sign that attacks about for-profit universities seem to stick with respondents asked about the issue in public-opinion polls.

"Garcia took thousands of dollars from for-profit colleges, which cost students in South Florida tens of thousands of dollars while handing out 'worthless degrees' or failing to give many students a degree at all," the flier says.

Garcia's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.


July 07, 2016

Rubio picks up NRA endorsement

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio picked up the endorsement of the NRA.

“Marco Rubio is a strong advocate for the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman, NRA Political Victory Fund. “He has fought to preserve our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage, and stood strong against President Obama, Hillary Clinton  and former New York City billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extreme gun-control agenda."

A news release celebrated his highest attainable “A+” rating, "reserved for legislators who have excellent voting records on Second Amendment issues and who have vigorously fought to promote and defend the right to keep and bear arms."

It said Rubio:

Continue reading "Rubio picks up NRA endorsement" »

Carlos Curbelo tries to attach no-fly, no-buy provision to House gun bill


On Thursday, Republican leaders in Congress indefinitely delayed a hearing on gun-control legislation spurred by last month's massacre in Orlando.

The "anti-terrorism" bill was slowed by disagreements among House Republicans over how much gun control, if any, they might accept.

Democrats staged a sit-in two weeks ago clamoring for votes on gun bills. Some Republicans want to vote too -- even if gun-control proposals have little chance of passing.

Among those is Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo. He sponsored a House companion to a Senate bill pushing so-called "no-fly, no-buy," which would prohibit people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms.

After House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy filed the leadership bill, however, Curbelo turned his own proposal into an amendment to attach to McCarthy's legislation.

Just because Curbelo filed the amendment doesn't mean it will be heard, though. And with GOP infighting over gun control, it's unclear if the idea will go anywhere. Stay tuned.

Voters can't trust Patrick Murphy, says U.S. Chamber ad

via @learyreports

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running this TV ad against Patrick Murphy, turning reporting about Murphy's resume into questions of trust.

The chamber's Rob Engstrom wrote on Twitter: "@USChamber all in for Rubio in #FLSen. FL voters just can’t trust @PatrickMurphyFL and they’re about to hear why."

Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen issued a "fact check" rebutting the charges. PolitiFact takes an independent look here.

"Marco Rubio abandoned Floridians to pursue his own political ambition, amassing the worst voting attendance record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years," Slayen said. "It's clear that Missing Marco can’t run on his record and instead, Republicans and outside groups are flooding the airwaves to try and drag the absent Senator across the finish line. This is exactly what Rubio was promised when he decided to run for the job everyone knows he hates.”


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Clinton should be stripped of security clearances, Rubio says

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio and other Republican senators want the State Department to suspend security clearances for Hillary Clinton and her top aides, seeking to capitalize on the private email scandal.

“We believe that is clear from Director [James] Comey’s statement and the FBI investigation that the State Department should immediately suspend the clearances of Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and other former State Department employees for security violations if they still maintain them,” the senators wrote in a letter Rubio's office said he organized.

“There is simply no excuse for Hillary Clinton’s decision to set up a home-cooked email system which left sensitive and classified national security information vulnerable to theft and exploitation by America’s enemies.  Her actions were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk.  Failure to impose any sanctions for these clear violations of State Department procedure undermines the integrity of the State Department’s system for handling classified information and sends the wrong message to the Department’s employees."

The letter was signed by Rubio, David Perdue (GA), John Barrasso (WY), Cory Gardner (CO), John Cornyn (TX), Johnny Isakson (GA), James Risch (ID), Ron Johnson (WI), James Lankford (OK), and Tom Cotton (AR).

The move comes after House Speaker Paul Ryan first suggested action Wednesday, writing a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Democrats launch ads against House Republicans, including Carlos Curbelo


National Democrats didn't even wait until after the two presidential conventions to kick off their ad campaigns against vulnerable Republican incumbents.

Starting Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will start airing ads targeting 10 GOP members of Congress -- including Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

The seven-figure, national ad buy will include ads on cable TV and online. Aiming for an audience of independent women, the ads will air on cable news as well as entertainment and lifestyle networks.

It's the first time the DCCC is beginning its ad campaign so early, in an effort to nationalize congressional campaigns and tie House members to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. The spots will run through the end of the Republican National Convention on July 21.

Curbelo is well-funded -- and more difficult to tie to Trump because he has pledged not to vote for him. One of the DCCC's ads accuses House Republicans of being Trump's "sidekicks." The other portrays Trump as a bully.



July 06, 2016

Miami gunfire victim, others push Congress to pass controls


Gun violence victims from Miami and other cities rallied outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and demanded that Congress act on pending legislation to limit firearms sales in the wake of the Orlando massacre last month.

Wearing orange T-shirts to commemorate the 49 people murdered in Orlando and others shot to death, the activists heard rousing remarks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis trying to continue the momentum for gun controls sparked by an unusual overnight sit-in the civil rights icon led on the House floor two weeks ago.

“The American public deserves so much more from our nation’s leaders than constant arguing,” Antwan Reeves, a Miami-Dade Schools employee who survived an automatic-rifle attack on him and his cousin in Miami Gardens last November, told reporters and spectators at the rally.

Saying “it’s a miracle that I’m here today,” Reeves told a riveting story of how he and his cousin, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey, were sprayed with gunfire Nov. 24 while they sat in a car at Northwest 199th Street and 38th Place. Another vehicle pulled up alongside them, and an occupant opened fire as Reeves shielded two of his children in the backseat of their car.

Reeves took 11 bullets while Bailey was shot twice in the head, but both men survived after Reeves somehow drove to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center and each underwent emergency surgery.

“The weapons used during that night of madness left behind 40 shell casings,” Reeves said at Wednesday’s demonstration. “These types of weapons should not be in possession of ordinary citizens.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, Reeves’ representative in the House, also attended the protest.

“We’re going to need the American public and pressure from the people of this nation to help us in this battle,” Wilson told reporters after the rally.

She added: “I am tired of burying little black boys (in my community), and I even have a foundation set aside to pay for their funerals. So we’re going to fight. I’ve been in this battle for a long time, and I do not intend to give up now.”

Since the June 12 tragedy in Orlando, Republicans who control the Senate and the House have blocked mainly Democratic efforts to pass “No Fly, No Buy” legislation that would make it more difficult for people on FBI terror watch lists to purchase guns.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Miami-Dade and David Jolly of Indian Shores, Fla., are among a small number of Republicans who have broken with their party and pushed for those limited controls.

Help is on the way: GOP super PAC reserves TV time in Rubio race

via @learyreports

A super PAC tied to Mitch McConnell said today it has reserved $1.5 million in TV advertising for the Florida Senate race.

Senate Leadership Fund said the ads will air in Orlando and Tampa on broadcast and cable from 7/15 to 7/22.

"Whether the Democrats nominate Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson, we are all in for Senator [Marco] Rubio and intend to hold this Senate seat," said Steven Law, president of the PAC.

The subject of the ad was not disclosed.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Miami Gardens shooting victim will advocate for gun control on Capitol Hill

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Frustrated over inaction on Capitol Hill, Democrats today will put a face on gun violence with a Miami man who was shot 11 times in 2015.

Antwan Reeves is to appear at a 10 a.m. news conference with Rep. Frederica Wilson and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Other gun violence victims will appear, according to Wilson’s office.

“Lawmakers also will reiterate their call for Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on common-sense gun control measures to prohibit individuals on the no-fly list from purchasing firearms and expand background checks,” the release reads.

Reeves was shot in Miami Gardens along with his cousin, St. Lous Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Joe Garcia and the semantics of immigration politics


Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, recently pounced on news that incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo backed a fellow GOP congressman who suggested immigrants in the U.S. be tracked like Fed-Ex packages.

"Rep. Comstock: track immigrants like FedEx packages. Yet @repcurbelo gave her $1000 from immigration PAC," Garcia tweeted on June 30.

The post linked to a Miami Herald story about contributions from Curbelo's leadership back -- including one to Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, who said in 2-14 that "Fed-Ex can track packages coming in here all of the time, we can track people who are coming into the country and we can do that right."

Comparing people to shipping packages did not go over well with pro-immigration activists. But it turns out Garcia made a similar reference two years ago -- not to shipping, but to credit cards.

In a local 2014 radio interview with host Grant Stern, Garcia -- then a sitting congressman -- made an analogy to a traveler using his credit card to buy a coconut in a remote area of Thailand. (Aroud the 40-minute mark.)

"American Express finds you, yet we can't find Pedro, when he crosses the border. It's silliness," Garcia said, apparently using a "Pedro" as the stand-in name for a Hispanic immigrant.

Garcia had been talking about the need for immigration reform, but he added he didn't advocate open borders, just better policies.

Asked about Garcia's comment in light of the candidate's shot at Comstock and Curbelo, Garcia spokesman Javier Hernandez argued the AmEx reference related to financial instruments the U.S. could use to find trouble immigrants -- though if that's what Garcia meant, he didn't make it explicit in the 2014 interview.

"Unlike the Trump Republicans supported by Carlos Curbelo, Joe Garcia would never compare immigrants to inanimate objects in order to score political points," Hernandez said in a statement. "Joe's comments -- in an interview supporting immigration reform -- addressed the ability of the government to use financial tracking mechanisms, if needed, to bring justice to individuals who are breaking the law."