August 16, 2013

More FL Democrat struggles: CFO candidate has past of bankruptcies

@MarcACaputo

Political unknown Allie Braswell was already facing an uphill struggle in taking on state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who has a solid political team, a Midas touch for fundraising and good name ID (he got more votes in 2010 than anyone else on the Florida ballot: Marco Rubio, Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi or Rick Scott).

Here's another hurdle for Braswell: The Florida Times Union reports he filed for bankruptcy as many as three times.

It's not a disqualification, Democrats will tell you as they quickly point to the record Medicare fraud fine paid by the hospital company that Scott ran years ago.

But Scott overcame those challenges with gobs of his own personal money and a sharp group of message masters. It doesn't look like Braswell has either of those at his disposal. And it's tough to run for a finance-related job when your finances were a mess at one point.

Braswell's candidacy is another sign of the Florida Democratic Party's structural problems. It struggles to field big-name candidates of its own. Despite outnumbering Republicans by more than 514,209 registered active voters, Democrats control no statewide seats based in the state Capitol and only have one statewide elected official, Sen. Bill Nelson. They're also heavily in the minority in the Florida House and Senate.

The FDP has no bench.

Right now its best hope, according to polls, used to be a Republican: Gov. Charlie Crist, who might run for his old job as a Democrat. In that one respect, Crist has a similarity with Braswell, who also used to be a Republican.

Here's the Times Union on Braswell:

His most recent petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Orlando in October 2008, shows he had $324,325 in assets and $509,155 in liabilities. The case was dismissed by Judge Arthur B. Briskman nearly 13 months after it was filed because Brawell defaulted on payments associated with a payment plan.

At the time of dismissal, he was delinquent on plan payments to the tune of $6,000. “Debtor failed to become current in payments and failed to file a response to the Trustee’s motion to dismiss … this case should be dismissed,” the judge wrote in his final order.

Because it was dismissed, Braswell had to reassume the debt. He would not say how much debt he is carrying today, information that will have to be made public on financial disclosure forms filed by all candidates.

“I used bankruptcy as way to responsibly pay my debt,” he said in an interview Friday.

August 15, 2013

Clelland and Zimmermann explain why they broke from Dems on SYG

It’s already been decided -- there will be no special session on stand your ground. Still, votes by lawmakers keep trickling in.

Florida’s Secretary of State office received 12 more votes on Thursday. The new tally is 90 lawmakers, 88 of them Republicans, voting against convening a special session that would address changing or repealing the law. Only 42 lawmakers, all Democrats, voted for it. The 27 lawmakers who still have yet to cast a vote have until Monday to do so.

About the only fun now is figuring which lawmakers will skip the vote and whether any more Democrats join Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary, and Rep. Carl Zimmermann, D-Palm Harbor, in voting against a special session.

So, why exactly did Clelland and Zimmerman stray from the party line?

Continue reading "Clelland and Zimmermann explain why they broke from Dems on SYG" »

July 24, 2013

Residency of all legislators under review

From the News Service of Florida

Legislative leadership wants to know where House and Senate members are when they say they're at home.

With Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, raising questions about a number of Democratic lawmakers living outside the districts they represent, the top attorneys for the House and Senate have been directed to recommend standards for residency.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Ken Detzner will be asked to get a list of where all 160 legislators are registered to vote.

"Neither the House nor the Senate has historically developed a clear set of principles to determine the residency of our members," House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in letter Wednesday to Latvala. "The recommended guidelines should draw on any past rulings of the House and Senate on this question, as well as decisions from other bodies in related legal contexts."

Continue reading "Residency of all legislators under review" »

July 22, 2013

FL Dems political director, Christian Ulvert, ties knot in DC with partner Carlos Andrade

@MarcACaputo

Ulvert

Christian Ulvert, the Florida Democratic Party's new political director, married his partner Carlos Andrade in Washington, DC last week in a ceremony that they couldn't have in their home state.

"Getting married in DC was a natural choice for us because Carlos lived in DC for a year and my passion for politics made it a perfect choice," Ulvert said. "It also symbolizes how far we've come in a short period in moving forward with marriage equality."

But it has only gone so far in Florida, where voters overwhelmingly approved of a state-constitutional same-sex marriage ban in 2008. The ban remains on the books. Dislodging it will be tough because, though public sentiment appears to have shifted in favor of same-sex unions, the constitution can only be changed with 60 percent approval by voters.

Ulvert is keenly aware of the political challenges. He was tapped to be the Democrats' political director this April after he helped the party win nine seats in the Florida House last year. He has worked on statewide campaigns with Democrats and a Miami-Dade slot-machine referendum effort with Republicans.

Ulvert, 31, was born and raised in Miami and Andrade, 33, is native of Venezuela.

Together for three years, their relationship took a more-serious turn after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Joined by a few family members and friends, they were married July 19 at the Liaison Hotel, a block from the US Capitol.

"After the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, we decided to get married because it was the first time that we would be recognized as a married couple," Ulvert said. "Though living in Florida means our home state still lags behind in affording equal rights to every Floridian, knowing that the full weight of the federal government stood behind our marriage is why we decided to get married."

July 18, 2013

Republicans now own 'Empty Chair Charlie' website

For weeks, Florida Republicans have gleefully tweaked former Gov. Charlie Crist and his record with a daily "This Day in CRIST-ory" feature that points out the flip-flops and policy shifts in the Republican-turned-Democrat's record.

The GOP took its strategy a step further Thursday, claiming ownership of the dormant site www.emptychaircharlie.com, which the Florida Democratic Party created in 2008 as a vehicle to criticize Crist for what Democrats then saw as his inattention to his responsibilities as governor. 

In a release, RPOF said: "The site's sole purpose will be to archive and post previous Florida Democratic Party press releases and other materials attacking Crist's tenure as governor and his open campaign to be John McCain's vice president."

In launching the site in 2008, then-Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman sent an email to party activists, saying the site would be "dedicated to holding Crist accountable for his blatant absence during the state's most dire economic times in 16 years." 

The "empty chair" strategy was actually created by Crist's team in the 2006 governor's race, when Crist effectively criticized his Democratic opponent, Jim Davis, for missing votes while in Congress.   

July 15, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Ferre appointed to Metropolitan Planning Organization in Miami-Dade

 Former Miami Mayor Maurice  Ferre, a Democrat who supported Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial race after losing his own bid for the U.S. Senate, has been appointed by the governor to the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Miami-Dade County.

Ferré, 78, succeeds Maritza Gutierrez.

Miami attorney named Bondi's associate deputy for legal policy

Nilda R. Pedrosa has been appointed by Attorney General Pam Bondi to serve as associate deputy attorney general for legal policy, based in Miami. Pedrosa’s previous positions include chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; a senior policy advisor to former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez; and assistant dean at Florida International University College of Law. Attorney Pedrosa is a Miami native and graduate of FIU and New England Law.

New appointments to Children’s Trust board in Miami-Dade 

Scott made three appointments to the Children's Trust governing board in Miami-Dade County.

Marissa Leichter, 36, of Surfside, the senior program attorney with the Guardian Ad Litem Program, succeeds Benjamin F. Gilbert Jr.

Trudy Novicki, 62, of Miami, the executive director of Krisiti House, Inc., succeeds Pamela Lillard.

Kadie Black, 30, of Miami, the external affairs director for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., succeeds Jose Gregoire.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

June 28, 2013

Update: Sachs draws ethics complaint for living outside her district, denies claims

A Broward Republican voter has filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Maria Sachs, a Democrat, accusing her of leasing a Fort Lauderdale apartment to comply with the residency requirements of her district which stretches from Delray Beach to Fort Lauderdale.  Download Sachs.Ethics.Complaint 

Matthew G. Feiler, 32, filed the complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission accusing Sachs of violating state ethics laws, committing perjury for signing an oath of office paperwork claiming she lived in Broward County, and violating Article III, section 15 (c) of the Florida Constitution which requires legislators to live in the district they are representing.

Feiler, a registered Republican living in Tamarac, according to Broward County voter registration records,  cited a television news report by Bob Norman of Channel 10 news who obtained video footage from a private investigator showing Sachs arriving at night at the Boca Raton home she owns with her husband in Boca Raton and leaving the next morning. 

The report did not indicate who paid for the private investigator to stalk Sachs. Sachs was re-elected to the Senate in November after a bitter election battle against former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. 

Update: Sachs denied the allegations and attributed them to "partisan Republican attacks."

"Of course I live in my district,'' she said in a statement. "I love to call the 34th District home. Republicans have spent millions attacking me and those attacks unfortunately did not stop with the election.  But sadly, the Republicans' well-funded attacks against me are getting more and more personal, but the people in my district aren't buying it. And everyone I represent can be certain of this, too: I'm not going to take my eye off what's important for a single moment. I'm focused on my constituents and their needs."

Continue reading "Update: Sachs draws ethics complaint for living outside her district, denies claims" »

June 20, 2013

Is Rick Scott's Florida No. 1 for corruption? Dems say so

The Florida Democratic Party is jazzed up about the chance to knock Gov. Rick Scott out of office, producing a Web video that touts the significance of "one" in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

One part features Scott saying, "Florida won't stop until we’re No. 1."

The words "Um, right" appear on the screen, followed by a newspaper headline typed over Scott: "Study ranks Florida No. 1 in government corruption." "No. 1 in government corruption," the text states. "Yep, Rick Scott, you're #1 alright."

Continue reading "Is Rick Scott's Florida No. 1 for corruption? Dems say so" »

June 18, 2013

Dems aren't ready to measure their candidates but they do have metrics on -- the JJ dinner

FLDEM infographicHere's a new one -- an infographic touting a dinner. This one is about the Florida Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner, held Saturday at the Westin Diplomat in Broward.

The party offers up on its web site its metrics for what says was an unprecedented number of attendees and $850,000 in money raised (compared to last year's $600,000.) It even measured the applause, with a decibel meter. 

Then there's what the graphic didn't measure:

* the rift between House Democrats;

* the rejection of former state Sen. Nan Rich, who is running for governor, from the speaker's platform;

* the reaction to Alex Sink, former CFO who narrowly lost to Rick Scott and is considering entering the race again; 

* or the crowd's receptiveness to likely-Democratic candidate and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

 A new Quinnipiac University poll out today did take a measurement on some of those folks. Respondents said that if the election were held today both Crist and Sink would defeat incumbent Gov. Rick Scott while too few people know about Rich to judge her.  Download 061813 FL GOV POLL + BP

Update: Republican political consultant Brian Burgess notes that, based on a report published in the Palm Beach Post last year, Democratic Party organizers in 2012 actually reported a higher number of people in attendance (1,000) and a fundraising threshold of $750,000. 

"Either the Florida Democrats are lousy at math, or they're lousy at telling the truth,'' he said. 

Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp, who wasn't with the Florida party last year, responded that the actual number of attendees in 2012 was closer to 900 and the amount reported as raised was based on amount pledged. This year's number, he said, was based on checks delivered and he stands by the percentages reported.

 

June 16, 2013

Amid governor's-race controversy, FL Dems boast they'll still whip Rick Scott

@MarcACaputo

              Florida Democrats’ best candidate for governor right now isn’t a candidate and wasn’t always one of them.

And party leaders caused a stir by snubbing a longtime candidate and party stalwart.

But when the elites of the Florida Democratic Party met Saturday for their annual fund-raising gala, they suggested none of that was really a big problem for one big reason: Rick Scott.

The unpopular Republican governor looks like an easy target for an incumbent.

“Whoever the Democratic nominee is will beat Rick Scott,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “We will win the governor’s mansion next November. There’s not any question.”

Even before the Jefferson-Jackson dinner began, Florida Democratic Party leaders said it was a success, bringing in a record $850,000.

More here