April 13, 2010

Gelber's leads AG pack in mi$leading first quarter numbers

What's one way to make it look like you're beating the pants off your opponent in fundraising? If you're Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami-Beach, you send out an email from your attorney general campaign HQ boasting that "we received over $325,000 in contributions... I have received more contributions than any other candidate in the race – Republican or Democrat."

$325k sure is a lot of money. Too much in fact.

Turns out, he raised $218,911 in cash. So how can he say he "received" $102k more than that? Gelber counted in-kind donations -- that is, stuff that isn't cash. And even if the in-kinds are added to the cash, Gelber's haul is technically $321k, due to common campaign accounting adjustments. Still, by rolling the inkinds into his fundraising total, it's a 32 percent inflation. Oh well. Technically, in-kind contributions are still contributions.

And Gelber's not alone when it comes to rolling inkind donations into an initial, misleading announcements about their contributions. Republican Holly Benson's contributions were inflated by 21 percent. Republican Jeff Kottkamp inflated his numbers by 17 percent and Republican Pam Bondi boosted hers by just 6 percent.

Only Gelber's Democratic rival, Dave Aronberg, looks like he was straight up when he said he raised $260k. Techincally, it was $259k.

Boy is this getting lawyerly. Maybe we shouldn't be shocked. This is a race to be the state's top lawyer.

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

Benson, Bondi post eerily similar 1Q numbers

Two rivals for the GOP nomination for attorney general -- Pam Bondi and Holly Benson -- posted nearly the same fundraising totals for the first three months of 2010. Bondi, a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, says she raised almost $240,000 this quarter. Benson, who ran the state's Medicaid agency under Gov. Charlie Crist, says she pulled in $241,000.

The totals come about a week after their third rival, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, announced he raised $270,000 during the same time period.

Democratic candidates Dan Gelber and Dave Aronberg raised $325,000 and $260,000, respectively. Both of those totals do not include March, when the two state senators were banned from fundraising.

April 05, 2010

Dan Gelber'$ in the AG race lead

Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Dem running for attorney general, last week had good reason to boast of his $260k fundraising numbers. Until now. Dem Sen. Dan Gelber reported a $325k haul. As we said before, this race comes down to money. Advantage: Gelber. For now.

On the R side: Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp is doing ok with $270k. Haven't seen much from Holly Benson, former AHCA chief. No surprise. The it girl/person/woman in this race is Pam Bondi, Hillsborough prosecutor who has a good base to work from and some TV name ID as a cable news talking head. She and Gelber (former prosecutor) are the only ones in the major race to actually put a number of bad guys behind bars.

March 30, 2010

Get ready for state buget fun this week

The state budget takes center stage in the House and Senate on Wednesday. And based on the amendments already filed, it could be a lively debate.

In the House, Democratic Leader Franklin Sands gets the partisanship started with an amendment to allow state universities to conduct embryonic stem cell research, which is currently prohibited. Another from top Democrat Ron Saunders of Key West would rename the state budget the "Job Killer Act of 2010." Saunders is upset the budget cuts $466 million for road-building fund, which Florida Transportation Commission is also fighting. And Rep. Marcelo Llorente wants to cut the language proposed by House Budget Chairman David Rivera that would require most state agency chiefs to live within 50 miles of Leon County.

Continue reading "Get ready for state buget fun this week" »

Dave Aronberg raises big in Attorney General's race

We're hearing that Dem Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres raised about $260k in just two months during this fundraising quarter in his race for Attorney General. That's about $10k more than he Aronberg raised in the entire quarter before.

Aronberg and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, are largely mirrors of each other (sorry guys), so there's a good chance this race to come down to one thing: Money. Waiting on Gelber's numbers......

March 26, 2010

Did Bill McCollum break state law with health care bill lawsuit?

When she bashed Attorney General Bill McCollum's health care lawsuit today, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chief Democratic whip in the House, let slip an interesting charge: That McCollum failed to go through the proper legal channels before filing his suit.

"State law requires a study and to consult with the congressional delegation," she said.

She's right. Kind of. Statute 16.52 says as much (text at bottom).

But the attorney general's office struck back with a May 5, 1999 memo from then Attorney General Bob Butterworth (a Democrat) who said the office can initiate federal constitutional challenges under its common-law powers. In an interview, Butterworth said he didn't remember the memo or the statute cited by Wasserman Schultz, but he said he believed McCollum could file the suit without consulting Wasserman Schultz, et al. Download Butterworth

What's he think of the ObamaCare suit? Said Butterworth: "I haven't read it."

Spoken like a true AG.

The statute language:

"In order to provide for independent action and cooperative participation by the state in a program of concerted action among the states, and independent procedure to oppose any existing or proposed federal legislative encroachments upon constitutional state powers, it is hereby made a duty of the Department of Legal Affairs to make a study of federal legislation - existing and proposed - to determine whether such legislation has resulted, or may result, in objectionable or harmful encroachments upon the constitutional integrity of state governments, and with due regard to this state's full contribution to the national war effort, in cooperation with the attorneys general of other states, or alone, to pursue that course best calculated to preserve and safeguard the constitutional state powers of the government of this state. It shall furnish to each of the several representatives in the Congress from this state, a written statement giving the reasons for any action being considered, or about to be taken hereunder at the time; and if possible, shall procure the assistance of such representatives therein and therefor." 

March 25, 2010

Dems: Audit Bill McCollum's office over health lawsuit

Senate and House Democratic leaders are striking back at Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum for his lawsuit to stop ObamaCare. They want Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul (Republicans) to call on the Auditor General to examine McCollum's office to determine just what the office is up to, how it picks its targets, etc.

Looks like Cretul's office is ready to say no, and Atwater might follow suit.

The open question: Who wins?

Maybe Sen. Dan Gelber, at least in his his primary bid v. Sen. Dave Aronberg. Gelber's aggressively campaigning against McCollum, even though the Republican is running for gov. McCollum is a conservative that liberals love to hate (cf. his role in the impeachment of President Clinton), so Gelber's striking Democratic primary gold.

In the governor's race, it all comes down to the independents in the polls. If they look like they hate the healthcare reform law, then McCollum will be a darling and his Democratic opponent for gov, CFO Alex Sink, could have a tough time seizing the spotlight. So far, she has avoided the health bill like it's the flu incarnate. But independents also profess to dislike partisanship, and legislative Dems appear to be doing their best to make McCollum out to be a partisan animal.

Anyway, here's the letter:

Continue reading "Dems: Audit Bill McCollum's office over health lawsuit" »

On Gelber's 'silly political antics'...

Republican Bill McCollum's campaign for governor is none too pleased with Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber's broadside against his lawsuit over ObamaCare. More here for the background.

Said McCollum's campaign in a written statement: "Silly political antics by Attorney General candidates on the chamber floor aside, a vote for Dan Gelber’s amendment was a vote to support Washington’s unconstitutional health care plan that will raise taxes, kill jobs and cut Medicare."

Bill McCollum's 'political frolic' continues...

Is it an election year, or what?

First Attorney General Bill McCollum holds a slew of press conferences leading up to his lawsuit aimed at stopping ObamaCare. He and other attorneys general hired an outside lawyer that, they say, will cost each state about $20 an hour. At the same time, McCollum's pushing legislation to cap the fees of outside attorneys.

Enter Sen. Dan Gelber, a Democrat seeking to succeed the Republican attorney general. He sponsored an amendment to the McCollum's fee-cap legislation (first reported here) aimed at stopping the lawsuit. The amendment failed 12-24 on a party-line vote. But not before Gelber pulled out the rhetorical stops.

“Why is our Attorney General spending all the resources of his office almost on a daily basis for this political frolic to get headlines?" Gelber said, grabbing a headline of his own. He called McCollum's effort a "circus" and an "ideological escapade," and said that McCollum is siding with big insurance companies against kids while ignoring child predators, pill mills and gang violence -- all are issues that McCollum, however, has made priorities.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, gave Gelber a mild there-you-go-again chiding.

"My good friend Sen. Gelber. You're at it again," Thrasher said.

“What we’ve gotten into unfortunately is a political debate over legislation passed in Washington D.C.”
“Defend us from a mandate that has never before in the history of this country has never been done: where we have to purchase insurance.”

After the amendment died, the other Democratic Sen. running for Attorney General, Dave Aronberg, bashed the fee caps as a "polluters protection act." Aronberg said the bill would unfairly "tie the hands of future attorneys general" in big tort cases like an oil spill or a massive prescription drug case.

Thrasher also swiped at Aronberg, thanking him and Gelber for trading blows against his bill.

"It's good to see you all dividing your time," Thrasher said. The bill passed 27-11 and now heads to the governor for his signature.