March 22, 2013

Jeb returns $270k to fraudster; DNC gives back $51k, DCCC: c.$68k, DWS: c.$5k

South Florida Business Journal:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush has agreed to return $270,000 that he was paid as a consultant to convicted fraudster Claudio Osorio and Osorio’s companies...

According to the agreement, Bush was paid $468,901 between December 2007 and September 2010 for consulting “plus reasonable expenses.”

Bush and his company, Jeb Bush & Associates, are repaying the money to Soneet Kapila, a court-appointed fiduciary who is collecting funds Osorio stole from other people and used to fund business operations at InnoVida Holdings, his housing panel manufacturing business.

The Democratic National Committee also agreed to repay $51,525 that Osorio donated, according to another agreement filed Thursday.

Folks in the GOP blogo-Twittersphere were quick to point out that the story didn't list two other high-profile givebacks.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair and Broward congresswoman, returned $4,800 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee returned $67,575.

September 09, 2012

Antonio Villaraigosa plays Democrat empty suit to Clint Eastwood's GOP empty chair

The Democratic National Convention had its Clint Eastwood.

His name: Antonio Villaraigosa.

Like Eastwood arguing onstage with an empty chair at the GOP convention, Villaraigosa provided an unscripted moment that led to mockery and political trouble.

Specifically, the Democratic convention chairman messed up a political no-brainer: rewording the party platform to reinsert a reference to God and another concerning Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The language got in the platform.

But it took three chaotic voice votes, all called by a flat-footed Villaraigosa — the mayor of Los Angeles — who was caught grinning in confusion after a surprising number of Democratic delegates repeatedly shouted “No!” on the convention floor as TV cameras rolled.

Suddenly, a pro-forma vote that normally garners relatively little negative attention turned into drama. Lots of drama. It was satirized roundly on the liberal-leaning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

A needless and unforced error, it was a gift to Republicans. Just as Eastwood’s performance allowed Democrats to try to cast the GOP as a party of angry old white guys, the Jerusalem issue allowed Republicans to try to cast the Democrats as too hostile to Israel.

Like his fellow Californian Eastwood, Villaraigosa refused to acknowledge any error. “Not one person objected. It’s more a media concern than a delegate concern. I can tell you this — the president of the United States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa later told The Los Angeles Times. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”

Did the president say “Wow!” or “Wow?”

The way Villaraigosa managed the situation gives an indication of why California is so messed up. And if Obama thought he did a great job, it speaks volumes about Illinois and the Democratic Party in general — especially when it comes to handling Jewish voters.

At the least, the incident underscores the needless political risk the party took in omitting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Read more here:

More here

September 06, 2012

Florida Dems' dilemma: Sink with the rank-and-file, Crist with the money men

Crist and SinkAn image that speaks volumes about the potential looming Democratic gubernatorial primary between Alex Sink and Charlie Crist: Last night Sink and hubbie Bill McBride sat in the arena with Florida delegates watching the speakers.

Crist, meanwhile, was shmoozing in the luxury suites with the Democratic big wigs. We hear he also hung out at the Ritz for awhile with Kirk Wager, Florida Finance Chairman of the Crist campaign (who says he merely bumped into him at the bar, though "I do like him). Today CNN's Peter Hamby chatted with the former Republican as he left a DNC national finance committee meeting.

The former governor has steered clear of the delegates and party activists in Charlotte. Most of them show little enthusiasm for Crist, who generally show little enthusiasm for his running for governor, let alone getting a speaking gig on the final night of the convention. No, the enthusiasm for Crist mostly comes from the Obama campaign.

Continue reading "Florida Dems' dilemma: Sink with the rank-and-file, Crist with the money men" »

September 05, 2012

Where's Bill Nelson? And where's Florida at Democrats' convention?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Bill who? Nelson where?

The embattled senior senator from the nation’s biggest battleground state has almost no profile at the Democratic National Convention.

Bill Nelson neither asked for nor was offered a speaking role. He held no big public events. He didn’t appear at the Florida delegation breakfast.

But he did stop by and visit delegates on the floor, grant a handful of news-media interviews, attend a fundraiser and then hustle out of Charlotte N.C. after less than a day on the ground.

It’s vintage Nelson: low key and averse to overt partisanship — the essence of a political convention. Nelson, who has shied away from President Barack Obama while backing much of his agenda, didn’t have a speaking role in the 2000 convention, when he first successfully ran for Senate, in 2004 or in 2008.

“The campaign’s in Florida, not in Charlotte,” Nelson explained. “I start in Panama City and start working back from the Panhandle out east on Thursday. That’s where the campaign is.”

Nelson just isn’t the type of speaker a convention would feature anyway, according to those who know him.

“His style is more tailored to small groups, speaking with voters one-on-one,” said David Beattie, a pollster who works for Nelson.

“I don’t know all of the inner workings of how a convention is put together,” Beattie said, “but it all depends on who fits their messaging, what’s right for the hall.”

By that standard: Florida isn’t right for the Democratic National Convention.

More here

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Bain-bashing Miamian to speak at DNC tonight

It wouldn't be a convention without some Bain Capital bashing, and tonight the DNC will feature Cindy Hewitt, who was HR manager at a medical supply company Mitt Romney's firm held in the late 1990s.

As described in our story earlier this year, Bain shut down its Miami operations costing 850 jobs and a $30 million payroll in the community. "What bothers me most is that Romney's campaign says he was a creator of jobs," said Hewitt said in January. "I didn't see that in any way, shape or form. He didn't create jobs. He slashed and burned jobs." 

Also speaking tonight is Floridian Johanny Adams, who became a citizen on Feb. 29, will cast her first vote for President Obama. "Her mom works as an overnight nursing assistant and they both “are trying to make ends meet every month," the DNC said. "Johanny is currently studying Political Science and Journalism at Miami Dade Community College and believes the Pell Grant program is a 'blessing' because 'every dollar makes a difference in college.' "

Posted by Alex Leary

September 04, 2012

Pro-Cuba travel sentiment at the Democratic National Convention

Image002Here's something you don't see at the Republican National Convention: An activist holding up a sign calling for more travel to Cuba. President Obama loosened travel and monetary-remittance restrictions to Cuba. But under Helms-Burton, travel to Cuba isn't free and easy (and, of course, once you're in Cuba you're subject to the whims of the dictatorship).

Public opinion surveys indicate that support for Cuba restrictions is thawing. But the Republican base in Miami-Dade County, where 72 percent of the GOP is Hispanic and overwhelmingly Cuban, still favors a hardline stance.

Sorry, Charlie? Kendrick Meek (gov. candidate in 14?) won't tamp down talk of a rematch.

Former Congressman Kendrick Meek is no Charlie Crist fan.

When the former governor decided to run for Senate, he ultimately left the Republican Party but stayed in the race, all but ensuring a win for Marco Rubio in 2010. That helped syphon votes from the Democrat in the race, Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek.

Crist allies leaked word that Meek was being pressured by top Democrats like Bill Clinton to leave the race. That hurt even more.

Now Crist is on the precipice of running for governor again, in 2014, as a Democrat. And Meek might want a little payback.

Sure, President Obama's campaign is giddy over Crist because he's scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention to drive home the idea that the GOP is too extreme. But Florida Democrats aren't pleased. Among them: Meek.

When asked what he thought of Crist at the convention, Meek smiled and essentially refused to comment.

"I'm not in charge," he said. "I'm going to go get my credentials (for the convention)."

When asked if he'd run for governor against Crist, he smiled: "I'm going to get my credentials."

That would be bad news for Crist, who has goodwill among African-American voters and the teachers union. So does Meek. He's the son of black-community icon and former Congresswoman Carrie Meek. And he repeatedly took on former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush over education initiatives that Crist backed and that the union opposed.

Charlie Crist’s DNC role disappoints some FL Democrats

To President Obama’s reelection team, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s high-profile speaking role at the Democratic National Convention is a coup.

But to many longtime Florida Democrats, it’s revolting.

"If he gets up to speak at the convention, it'll be a good time to go to the bathroom," said Palm Beach County’s tax collector, Anne Gannon, a Florida Democratic delegate.

“He’s a born-again Democrat,” Gannon said. “He’s a nice man, but he doesn’t have a clue about his value-system.’

Crist is widely expected to run for governor again in two years as a Democrat. He left the Republican Party in 2010, saying it became too “extreme.”

His conversion, to an independent, came only after he was all but assured a GOP-primary loss to fellow Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race. Crist went on to lose the general election to Rubio in a three-way Senate race involving former Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek, who wouldn't comment.

"I'm not in charge," he said when he ran into a reporter at the convention. "I'm going to go get my credentials (for the convention)."

Crist has slowly tilted toward the Democratic Party ever since, endorsing Sen. Bill Nelson and then Obama just before the Republican National Convention kicked off the Sunday before last. He was awarded a DNC speaking slot, perhaps on Thursday night when Obama is nominated.

The speaking role of a not-quite-Democrat at the Democrats’ convention speaks volumes about the state of the party.

Except for national party chairwoman and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, no other Florida official will play a high-profile convention role. Nelson isn’t scheduled to speak. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 5 percentage points in Florida yet only hold one state-wide elected office, Nelson’s, and comprise less than a third of the Legislature.

As a must-win state for Republicans that Obama won in 2008, Florida is nonetheless playing a much-downsized role at the Democrats’ convention relative to its outsized importance.

Republicans have reveled in Crist’s flip-floppery, disseminating Tweets from the time Crist was still a Republican who bashed Obama’s healthcare plan.

Democrats aren’t so happy to point out the inconsistencies, but they’re noting them nonetheless in a bipartisan act of marveling at Crist’s appetite for political reinvention. They expect Crist, a trial lawyer at the Morgan & Morgan firm, to become a Democrat at an opportune moment and then run for governor.

“Less than two years ago, he was against the Affordable Care Act and he thought Sarah Palin was an excellent choice for vice-president. How does he explain that?” said state Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who’s running for governor in 2014.

Continue reading "Charlie Crist’s DNC role disappoints some FL Democrats" »

August 27, 2012

No surprise news of the day: Charlie Crist secures DNC speaking spot

Charlie Crist, who yesterday endorsed Barack Obama, will speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week.

"The Democratic convention will be about bringing people together to continue the progress we've made in rebuilding our economy from the middle out, not the top down," a Democratic official said. "Gov. Crist can personally speak to this, and contrast the president's vision with Mitt Romney's, which caters to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and undermines the middle class." See more here.

Florida  Agriculture Commmissioner Adam Putnam told Florida delegates about it this morning, and the news drew groans from the audience.

“Unbelievable,” Putnam said. “What does he stand for except for himself. He’ll wear any costume just to get in the parade.”

-- Alex Leary and Michael Van Sickler

August 29, 2008

A lucky sign for Obama from South Florida?

Homemade signs are generally among the banned items at tightly orchestrated political conventions -- no off point messages, please. But a small band of self-proclaimed Cuban American Democrats managed to evade the sign police Thursday night at Barack Obama's speech and made their allegiance clear.

The four snuck in a sign reading, "Cuban American Democrats for Change," and waved it proudly. It caught the cameras several times and got up on the giant screens at Invesco Field at Mile High.

On the way to the event, "people were telling us, 'You know, they don't allow signs,' " said Arthur Costa, 49, of Miami. "But we figured we'd take a chance."

They saw several signs get confiscated, but walked out on the field with the goods.

"We just witnessed history tonight," Costa said as he rode the bus back to the Florida delegate's hotel. All four signed the sign for posterity. It'll go next to the sign Costa snuck into the convention in 2000.