November 15, 2010

House and Senate reach deal: no override of DMS and workers comp bills

House and Senate leaders sent a signal Monday to Gov.-elect Rick Scott that they are willing to work with him and agreed not to override a controversial bill that would have taken away some of his power over the state agency in charge of most government contracting and building management. They also agreed not to override a bill that was supported by major campaign contributors in the final weeks of the election.

The two bills, HB 5611 and 5603, will be taken off the list of 9 potential bills slated to be overrided Tuesday during a one-day special session. The session will be added after the organizational session when new members of both chambers are sworn in. Environmentalists also are asking lawmakers to leave alone a veto of HB 1565, a bill that would give legislators the power to ratify what they say is nearly every regulation that comes out of state agencies, but legislators have resisted.

November 09, 2010

November 05, 2010

Haridopolos on Scott's job promise, working with new guv

In a wide-ranging interview today, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos told reporters what to expect out of the Legislature in the next two years: more conservative ideas. He said the shares the same central goal as Gov.-elect Rick Scott -- reduce regulations and make the state more attractive to businesses.

“I think you’re going to see more aggressive policies trying to remove red tape,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in this room can say Charlie Crist was aggressively trying to reduce red tape.”

Scott has promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years -- over and above the growth projected under current policies. Haridopolos was less specific.

“We can’t guarantee success,” he said. “I mean, economics isn’t a simple math question. Our goal is produce two basic items – increase predictability and certainty. Predictability that there's not going to be a new tax or new regulation that's going to limit job opportunities in this state. ... We want to try to give that predictability that, if nothing else in comparison to other states, that we look better."

Haridopolos also discussed how he would work with Scott, the man Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon spent months trying to defeat in the GOP primary.

“The following Monday after the campaign, Dean and I went over to see Rick Scott and had a fabulous conversation,” he said. “We all recognized that Rick, Dean and I -- we all share the philosophy that he espoused on the campaign trail. Rick Scott and I have been very cordial,” he said. “I’ve been supportive. You saw how aggressively I supported him in the campaign.

“Given the way we’ve gotten along so well, I expect to have a good relationship."

August 30, 2010

Cannon quietly conducts school for Republican candidates in House chambers

Rep. Dean Cannon, the Winter Park Republican who has been designated the next House speaker, organized a private little training session in Tallahassee last week for about 30 House Republican candidates who survived the primary. The event, hosted jointly by Cannon and the Republican Party of Florida, gave candidates a primer on campaign strategy -- including dealing with the media -- at RPOF headquarters, and then escorted them to the Capitol, where they heard a speech in the House chambers by Cannon.

His message: We've got a $6 billion budget hole so watch what you promise.

"I wanted to point out that campaigning as a fiscal conservative is easy and governing as a fiscal conservative is much harder than people appreciate,'' he recalled Monday. "A lot of Republicans have said this should be easy -- we just cut waste, fraud and abuse. Yes, we should, but that alone isn't enough to deal with the revenue and budgetary obligations of the state.''

The group also met Cannon's leadership team -- Reps. Will Weatherford, Chris Dorworth, Denise Grimsley, Carlos Lopez Cantera and Gary Aubuchon -- and attended a "Policy Fair" on the 22nd floor where they could ask questions of the staff directors of the House's policy committees. The use of non-partisan policy directors for a partisan event took the House Democratic office by surprise. So, when asked about it, they weren't kind.

"Given the shameful record of failure that Republican legislative leaders have to defend, it’s difficult to imagine what use would come from attending their political soiree,'' said Mark Hollis, the Democrat's spokesman.

All of this would have remained out of the limelight had Tallahassee Democrat reporter Bill Cotterell not stumbled upon the meeting while looking for a candidate and wrote about it. There was no public notice for the distinctly partisan event.

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Rick Scott: from outsider to King of the Insiders

Watching the passel of legislators fawn over Rick Scott this morning at the University Club in Tampa today, I couldn't help but think of the final scene in The Godfather when we know Michael Corleone's transformation into the Don is complete.

Mr. Outsider Rick Scott is now the Kingpin insider, schmoozing with legislative leaders and courting special interests and lobbyist money so he does not have to keep digging into his own pockets. Whether he can maintain his outsider persona while embracing Tallahassee insiders may determine whether he beats Alex Sink for governor.

"My job is to stay who I am,'' Scott said.

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August 02, 2010

Haridopolos Medicaid bus tour rolling through town near you

Soon-to-be Senate President Mike Haridopolos is barnstorming the state on a Health Care Solutions trip where he'll be joined by House Speaker-to-be Dean Cannon and others. The Republican Party of Florida is underwriting it. So expect loads of ObamaCare-bashing, a call for more managed care, and restrictions on trial lawyers/medical malpractice suits.

Here's the schedule and the members who'll appear on the world tour:

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July 20, 2010

June 28, 2010

How Dean Cannon's $727k could help Alex Sink

Soon-to-be House Speaker Dean Cannon has joined soon-to-be Senate President Mike Haridopolos in the big-money bashing of fellow Republican Rick Scott, who is now the front-runner v. their governor candidate, Bill McCollum.  Cannon's committee gave the cash, $727,000 in three big chunks (more here) to the Florida First Initiative, which McCollum is using as a vehicle to bash Scott.

Haridopolos, as we reported last week, isn't far behind with his Citizens Speaking Out group, which has yet to post a web page detailing its financing activity.

All the scorched-earth big-spending against Scott could prove to be a little risky for the GOP. Suppose he actually wins the primary election and he has to face Democrat Alex Sink with his entire party having called him a party to a massive fraud. Now whom does that help?

But wait. There's more. One Republican pointed out to us that the money Haridopolos and Cannon have raised through their committees might have gone to help Republican legislative candidates (Frank Artiles for state Rep., anyone?). Now the cash is going to McCollum instead. That might make some of the tea-party-leaning rank-and-filers not so happy.

** Update: McCollum Friday acknowledged his relationship with Florida First and another group, Sunshine State Freedom Fund, by filing with the state's election division a Statement of Solicitation detailing his involvement. Intriguingly, McCollum's Building Integrity & Lasting Leadership Fund seems pretty dormant, save a few recent expenditures to an accountant and a $40,000 contribution to the Republican Party of Florida on 8/19/09. Wonder what that was for? Paying the bills when RPOF was almost failed to make payroll?

Haridopolos' Freedom First Committee and Cannon's Liberty Fund each received $500,000 from three companies controlled by Miramar doctors Paul Zimmerman and Gerald Glass on June 16 ($150k each from Orthopaedic Fellowship Group; another $150k each from Durable Medical and another $200k each from Green Solar Transportation). Haridopols then gave $403k to Citizens Speaking Out.

June 24, 2010

527 cash pours into the GOP governor's race

Expect more negative hits on Rick Scott as groups tied to Bill McCollum, his GOP rival in the governor's race, look to spend more big bucks.

The Florida First Initiative bought nearly another million in TV time for a June 24 to July 2 bombardment -- in the political group's largest salvo to date. The $900,000 buy brings the group's total spent on TV advertising to $1.9 million.

This comes as a new 527 backed by McCollum supporters, Citizens Speaking Out Committee, appears poised to launch its own attacks on Scott. One of the group's top benefactors: incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a key McCollum ally. (He follows his House counterpart, future Speaker Dean Cannon, who put money into Florida First.)

Haridopolos' political committee, Freedom First, sent the Citizens Speaking Out $435,000 in the last month after receiving three $500,000 from three Broward County donors who support McCollum, according to the News Service of Florida.

June 11, 2010

Greer seeks delay in civil case as new documents emerge

Indicted former GOP Chairman Jim Greer is asking a judge to put his civil lawsuit against the Republican Party of Florida on hold until his criminal case is finished.

Greer sued the party in May after FDLE acknowledged the criminal investigation that led to six felony charges earlier this month ranging from money laundering to organized fraud concerning a secret contract he authorized to skim party contributions to a company he owned. He contends the party never paid him the $124,000 owed under a severance agreement signed by party leaders in exchange for his resignation.

Greer's attorney, Damon Chase of Lake Mary, filed a motion to abate at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Seminole County court. "In as much as Greer's criminal indictment appears more, at least in part, to be the latest attempt in a long line of attempts by RPOF to avoid its obligations under the the severance agreement, Greer respectfully requests this honorable court abate the instant matter until resolution of the criminal matter as opposed to outright dismissing his facially meritorious claim," Chase states in the motion obtained by the Times/Herald.

The documents filed with the court include a number of new details that indicate incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon repeatedly assured Greer that the party would honor the contract even after the interim executive director, Bret Prater, tried to end the deal.

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