October 12, 2016

Foreign-visa program provided Garcia a cause in Congress — and a job out of it

002 Joe Garcia DS

As a member of Congress, Joe Garcia championed immigration visas that allow wealthy foreigners to obtain U.S. residency if they pledge at least $500,000 to job-creating projects within the nation’s borders.

According to one analysis, Garcia became the biggest beneficiary in Congress of donations from bankers and developers eager to expand the visa program, known as EB-5.

When the Miami Democrat was ousted from Congress after a single term, Garcia took a job as senior vice president for a private Miami Beach bank named QueensFort Capital that specializes in matching foreign investors to EB-5 visa projects.

Though not illegal or improper, the relationship illustrates the revolving door that often exists in Congress: As a lawmaker, Garcia worked on EB-5 legislation. He then worked for an EB-5 bank. Now he’s again running for Congress, where he might write EB-5 rules that would affect his former employer.

Garcia told the Miami Herald he got the bank job because he could leverage his local connections and not because he filed legislation in March 2014 to expand the EB-5 program.

“This was a job because I knew a lot of people in South Florida,” said Garcia, whose legislation didn’t pass. “The whole point was because of my relations. It was not because of my EB-5 expertise.”

More here.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

Bashing 'extreme liberals,' clean energy super PAC starts ad campaign for Curbelo


A clean energy super PAC backing U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is launching a new cable-and-digital ad campaign for the endangered Miami Republican.

ClearPath Action Fund, which threw its support behind Curbelo over the summer, says it will spend more than $500,000 through Election Day promoting the freshman congressman. Curbelo was the first lawmaker ClearPath endorsed.

Beginning this week, ClearPath's digital ads will begin online. They're intended to counter an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee slamming Curbelo on the environment that PolitiFact found misleading. Curbelo has asked TV stations to take the ad down.

"Extreme liberals are making false claims about Carlos Curbelo's environmental record, but you deserve to know the truth," the spot says. "Carlos Curbelo puts South Florida and the environment first -- and he has the record to prove it."

Next week, ClearPath's ads on cable will stress to Florida Keys voters that Curbelo supports renewable energy. The 26th district extends from Westchester to Key West. A push-poll conducted for a pro-Curbelo group by a Republican pollster in Miami suggested independent voters in the district might care enough about environmental issues like the Everglades that campaigning on those policies could win them over.

Curbelo is opposed by Democrat Joe Garcia.

Democratic super PAC debuts anti-Curbelo ad


Joe Garcia got a little help on TV this week from a Democratic super PAC that started airing its first ad against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"Carlos Curbelo shares Donald Trump's dangerous views," the ad from House Majority PAC says. "They both want to defund Planned Parenthood. They both called Social Security a 'Ponzi' scheme."

The ad also claims a super PAC funded by Trump has spent "over $1 million" trying to reelect Curbelo, but it doesn't name the PAC. Asked to identify it, House Majority PAC spokesman Jeb Fain said it was the Congressional Leadership Fund, which accepted a Trump donation in 2012, long before his candidacy.

"The contortions Democrats are making in this ad only showcase how desperate they are to talk about anything but Joe Garcia'a scandal-plagued record," Emily Davis, Congressional Leadership Fund'/ communications director, said in a statement.

National Democrats have made it their chief campaign argument to tie congressional Republicans to Trump. Curbelo has escaped some of that criticism by saying he won't back the presidential nominee. But Democrats are nevertheless finding issues on which they can link the two Republicans.


Republicans bring back Garcia's 'Communism works' snippet


Two years ago, then-U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia tried to make a point about Republican spending on border security resulting in scores of government jobs. "Communism works," he quipped.

A political tracker was taping him. And the out-of-context words have been used in attack ads against him ever since -- even though Garcia is the son of exiles who fled Cuba.

So it goes with the latest ad by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which continues to jab Garcia as "embarrassing." Most of the ad is an attack on Garcia's support for the Iran nuclear deal. But the first quote that appears on the screen is "Communism works."

The NRCC is backing incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Garcia's first TV ad knocks Curbelo -- and Trump -- on Obamacare


Miami Democrat Joe Garcia is using his first TV ad of the year to accuse Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- and Donald Trump -- of trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

"Carlos Curbelo and Donald Trump want to go backwards," Garcia says in the 30-second spot, titled "Leadership." "They're working to repeal Obamacare, stripping healthcare from thousands of Florida families. That's wrong."

No sources are cited in the ad. Trump said as recently as Sunday, in his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, that he'd get rid of Obamacare. Curbelo said when he was running in the Republican primary in 2014 that he'd "replace" Obamacare, "because to just say 'repeal' implies that there is no need for health care reform." Republicans, including Curbelo, haven't voted on any "replacement" legislation.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already running a commercial noting Curbelo's Obamacare opposition, among other things. Then-Rep. Garcia hit Curbelo over the same issue two years ago. Curbelo has refused to endorse Trump.

A recent poll commissioned by Garcia shows the candidates tied in the swing 26th district, which spans Westchester to Key West. Their first debate is scheduled to take place Thursday evening. Curbelo, who didn't have a primary challenger and has far outraised Garcia, has been on the airwaves for more than a month.

Garcia's new ad, coming as Miami-Dade County sends its first batch of mail-in ballots to voters, invokes President Barack Obama, whose national popularity has soared as of late. Garcia says he'll "improve" the healthcare legislation if he's returned to Congress.



Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio’s support for LGBT issues declined in recent years, according to scoring by Human Rights Campaign.

The group has released its rankings for the 114th Congress and Rubio scored a zero. That was down from 22 percent in the 113th Congress and 47 percent in the 112th.

Human Rights Campaign based its current report on several issues, including a budget amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, that would have ensured same-sex couples have access to Social Security and veterans benefits.

Rubio also voted against a failed amendment from Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that included LGBTQ non-discrimination protections or runaway and homeless youth programs. In a couple instances, Rubio missed votes that group scored.

Rubio’s score was higher the previous year because he voted against an amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 striking provisions prohibiting discrimination against victims of domestic violence based on sexual orientation as well as eliminating protections relating to Native American and immigrant victims. He voted against a similar amendment the year before.

Continue reading "Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better" »

October 11, 2016

Murphy casts Rubio as Trump lackey at Clinton rally


Patrick Murphy ripped into Marco Rubio as a backward science skeptic Tuesday, using a Hillary Clinton rally on climate change as a backdrop to score points against the Republican incumbent.

Murphy got five minutes on stage ahead of Clinton's event at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus, the first time the Jupiter congressman appeared behind the microphone at a Florida campaign stop for the Democratic presidential nominee, who has endorsed him. Murphy's moment in the spotlight came just a few hours after Rubio had refused to withdraw his support for Donald Trump over an explosive 2005 recording showing Trump bragging about making unwanted sexual advances at women.

While Murphy alluded to Trump's "misogynistic attacks," he didn't inform the crowd of Rubio's most recent statement backing Trump. He just continued tying the two Republicans together.

"When Donald Trump goes low, Marco Rubio is right there with him," Murphy said, referring to a line by First Lady Michelle Obama and adopted by Clinton that when Republicans "go low, we go high."

Murphy instead offered a morsel or two about himself -- "I could swim before I could walk and fish before I could talk" -- and emphasized Democrats' defense of the environment.

"Sen. Rubio stands with Sen. Trump and refused to protect our environment," Murphy said. "When presented with the overwhelming scientific existence of climate change, Marco Rubio's quote was, 'I'm not a scientist.'

"Senator, you don't need to be a scientist -- look out the window!"

Murphy called himself a "millennial" and got a decent round of applause -- but he didn't get to introduce Clinton. He was followed instead by a round of pop music.

When she arrived, Clinton gave Murphy a shout-out saying she hopes he'll be the next U.S. senator for Florida.

Democratic challenger wipes foreign affairs page from website as Ros-Lehtinen hits him on Israel


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen mailed a new flier Monday attacking Democratic rival Scott Fuhrman over Israel and Iran policy proposals laid out in his website.

Make that, formerly laid out in his website.

As of Monday night, Fuhrman's "Foreign Affairs" issue page had disappeared from scottfuhrmanforcongress.com. 

Ros-Lehtinen's camp says the page was still up in Saturday when they sent the flier to print. Google shows a cached version of the page from a week ago.

In the now-deleted page, Fuhrman said the U.S. shouldn't "walk away" from trying to negotiate a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

"This is an opportunity to make forward strides in peace," he said. "I believe congress should take leadership and put forward its own parameters for a negotiated resolution. The goal is to keep as many children and families safe from terror while encouraging equitable diplomacy in much needed areas."

In her flier, Ros-Lehtinen claims Fuhrman's "dangerous foreign policy pledges to undermine relationship with Israel."

Continue reading "Democratic challenger wipes foreign affairs page from website as Ros-Lehtinen hits him on Israel " »

Rubio stands by Trump

GOP 2016 Debate (1)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he’s not revoking his endorsement of Donald Trump, despite Trump’s lewd and vulgar comments in a 2005 recording about groping women without their consent.

“I ran against Donald Trump. And while I respect that voters chose him as the GOP nominee, I have never hesitated to oppose his policies I disagree with,” Rubio said in a statement. “And I have consistently rejected his offensive rhetoric and behavior. I disagree with him on many things, but I disagree with his opponent on virtually everything.

“I wish we had better choices for President. But I do not want Hillary Clinton to be our next President. And therefore my position has not changed.”

More here.

Photo credit: Associated Press

October 10, 2016

SEIU backs Republican Ros-Lehtinen


The Service Employees International Union, which tends to back Democrats, has endorsed the reelection of Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"Through her work on behalf of South Florida's working families, Ileana has shown a record of results for our community," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement. "The members of SEIU are proud to endorse Ileana because she is a partner in our quest to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, raise living and working conditions for health care and other professionals as well as for the most vulnerable, our seniors. She also supports a functional immigration system that will strengthen families and communities."

Ros-Lehtinen faces Democratic challenger Scott Fuhrman in Miami's 27th congressional district.

"I'm honored to receive the support of the hardworking men and women of the SEIU," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I work every day for South Florida families. I look forward to their help throughout the campaign as I speak with voters about my focus on improving our economy."