September 20, 2018

March For Our Lives founder leaves the group, regrets trying to ‘embarrass’ Rubio

School Shooting Florida

@alextdaugherty

Cameron Kasky became one of the most recognizable faces of the March For Our Lives Movement after he helped raise millions of dollars in a matter of days for a gun-control rally and confronted Sen. Marco Rubio on television after the nation’s deadliest high school shooting .

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior spent weeks organizing a massive march in Washington that morphed into a nationwide movement and summer bus tour, with an eye toward the upcoming November election.

Now, Kasky is leaving the group.

“I’m proud of everything my friends have done, everything they’re doing, and my focus on opening these conversations to people who disagree with me makes me even more invested in just how important the work they’re doing is,” Kasky said in an email.

Kasky first announced his decision to leave March For Our Lives in an interview with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson on Wednesday, where he also expressed regret for the way he talked to Rubio during a town hall event broadcast on CNN. At the town hall, Kasky said, “Senator Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down a barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz, but the point is you’re here and there some people who are not.” He then grilled the Republican senator over accepting political contributions from the National Rifle Association.

“I look back on that and I say, you know what, there were people who had just been buried and when you’re looking at somebody that you find might in some way have been complicit in this murderer obtaining the weapon it’s hard not to say something like that,” Kasky said to Fox. “But, I went into that wanting less conversation and more to embarrass Rubio and that was my biggest flaw.”

Kasky also said he regrets referring to Cruz by name during the town hall and that he met people during the March For Our Lives bus tour this summer in Texas who share different political beliefs than his, but that he came away wanting to understand more about their differences.

“This summer when March For Our Lives went on the summer tour that we embarked on I met that person in Texas who got that semi-automatic weapon because that’s how they like to protect their family,” Kasky told Fox. “I met the 50-some-odd percent of women who are pro-life, even though I thought it was preposterous that a woman could be pro-life and not pro-choice at the time. I learned that a lot of our issues politically come from a lack of understanding of other perspectives and also the fact that so often young conservatives and young liberals will go into debate, like I said earlier, trying to beat the other one as oppose to come to an agreement... I’m working on some efforts to encourage bipartisanship or at least discussion that is productive and help a lot of people avoid the mistakes that I made.”

Read more here.

September 07, 2018

How a snubbed handshake influenced Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing

Senate Supreme Court

@alextdaugherty

Democrats don’t have the votes to stop Brett Kavanaugh, so they turned his Supreme Court confirmation hearing into a spectacle.

Protesters dressed up in costumes from the dystopian TV drama “The Handmaid’s Tale,” dozens were arrested after interrupting proceedings in the Senate Judiciary Committee and one senator compared himself to Spartacus after daring his colleagues to expel him for releasing supposedly confidential emails from Kavanaugh that had actually been declassified hours earlier.

But the Parkland shooting also played a role in arguments against Kavanaugh’s supposedly genial personality and future rulings on gun issues if confirmed to the lifetime position on the nation’s highest court.

Aalayah Eastmond, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Eastmond recounted in detail her experience on Valentine’s Day, when she hid beneath Nicholas Dworet’s body to shield herself from the bullets. At least one senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, was in tears.

Then she turned to Fred Guttenberg’s snubbed handshake from earlier in the week, when the Supreme Court nominee declined to shake the hand of the Parkland parent and gun control activist whose daughter Jaime was among the victims.

“If Kavanaugh doesn’t even have the decency to shake hands with a father of a victim, he definitely won’t have the decency to make life-changing decisions that affect real people,” Eastmond testified.

Read more here.

September 04, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh declines to shake Parkland parent’s hand at confirmation hearing

Senate Supreme Court

@alextdaugherty

Brett Kavanaugh stood up for a lunch break, began to button up his jacket and turned around to find the outstretched hand of Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Parkland mass shooting on Valentine’s Day.

Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, declined to shake it.

“Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as the morning session ended,” Guttenberg tweeted. “Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg’s dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”

The three-second exchange instantly went viral, as Democrats are trying to muster attacks on Kavanaugh even though they likely don’t have the votes to stop his eventual confirmation. The first leg of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday was frequently interrupted by protesters in the room, with encouragement from Democrats.

The White House said Guttenberg, a vocal advocate for increased gun-control measures who has traveled to Capitol Hill frequently over the last six months to push for changes in legislation, was “an unidentified individual” and that security intervened before Kavanaugh could shake his hand.

“As Judge Kavanaugh left for his lunch break, an unidentified individual approached him,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah tweeted. “Before the Judge was able to shake his hand, security had intervened.”

Guttenberg called Shah's version of events "incorrect." 

Read more here.

August 28, 2018

Parkland parent says Wells Fargo’s conduct on guns and marijuana is dishonest

Guttenberg

@alextdaugherty

Fred Guttenberg wasn’t happy with Wells Fargo’s decision to keep banking with the gun industry after the Parkland shooting, in which his daughter Jaime was one of the 17 people killed, but he was willing to continue talking when the bank’s CEO told him they wanted to remain politically neutral.

Then came the bank’s decision to shut down Florida Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried’s campaign account due to the financial support she received from the medical marijuana industry.

Guttenberg, angrier still with what he perceived as the bank’s hypocritical stance, emailed Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan asking him to reconsider their gun policy now that they waded into marijuana politics. 

He didn’t get a response.

And the final straw came Monday night, when CNN reported that Bloomberg News reassigned a reporter who covered Wells Fargo after the banking giant complained about the reporter’s coverage of Wells Fargo’s ties to the gun industry.

“I think people ought to move their accounts. We’ve seen what Wells Fargo will do to consumers in the past and now we see what they do to those who disagree with them,” Guttenberg said in an interview. “I could have gone public multiple times. When I read today that they’re actually seeking to punish people for covering their bad behavior when it comes to guns, now I’m going to go public because I’m angry.”

Guttenberg, a vocal proponent of increased gun control measures who is working to elect lawmakers who agree with him on the issue, said the Wells Fargo CEO’s behavior is different than others he’s confronted in public, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Senator Rubio, he and I have had many private conversations because maybe one day we’ll try to come together,” Guttenberg said. “It became a problem to me when it became clear [Wells Fargo was] lying. I went public when they actually took action against someone.”

Read more here.

August 22, 2018

Fred Guttenberg cuts ad blasting Mario Diaz-Balart

Mario Diaz-Balart

@alextdaugherty

Fred Guttenberg is going after the one South Florida congressman who accepted National Rifle Association money after the nation's deadliest high school shooting where Guttenberg's daughter Jaime was one of 17 people killed. 

Guttenberg, one of the most outspoken anti-gun Parkland parents, cut an ad that blasts Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart for supporting the NRA on behalf of Diaz-Balart's Democratic challenger, former judge Mary Barzee Flores

“Mario Diaz-Balart, after February 14th, after my daughter and 16 others died, you had a choice to make. And you chose to take money from the NRA,” Guttenberg says directly to Diaz-Balart at the beginning of the ad. “You chose to take their money... you’re not worthy of service... you need to be fired.”

Diaz-Balart has accepted more direct campaign contributions from the NRA than any other member of Congress from Florida over the last 20 years, including a $1,000 donation after the shooting in May 2018. His continued support from the NRA comes as other Republican members of Congress from South Florida like Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast have distanced themselves from the nation's largest gun lobby. 

Barzee Flores' campaign manager Sam Miller said the ad will run on digital platforms for now, but could end up on TV later in the campaign. 

Guttenberg has traveled around the country and lobbied dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill to change the nation's gun laws since the Valentine's Day shooting. 

"I will be working everyday to support Mary Barzee Flores for Congress," Guttenberg said after lauding her judicial background.

Diaz-Balart's Hialeah-based district that stretches across the Everglades is the most conservative of the three Miami-Dade congressional seats currently held by Republicans, though Democrats consider the district competitive after Donald Trump eked out a narrow win over Hillary Clinton there in 2016.

Diaz-Balart hasn't faced a competitive reelection challenge since 2008.

Watch the ad below: 

 

August 17, 2018

Parkland parents' super PAC releases new ad—but they're waiting to attack pro-gun lawmakers

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 2.37.31 PM

@alextdaugherty

A group of Parkland parents are getting their hands dirty ahead of the 2018 elections. 

The Families Versus Assault Rifles PAC, a super PAC organized by Parkland parents who want to oust lawmakers that do not support limiting access to assault weapons, banning bump stocks and limiting magazine size, released a new ad that uses footage from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the shooting and a salvo of gunshots to drum up support for their cause. 

The ad, a 30-second digital spot titled "Mass Shootings are NOT Normal" opens with footage of Parkland students being led away from their classrooms during the shooting before the sound of gunshots cuts in. Then, Parkland parents Sergio Rozenblat and Jeff Kasky urge supporters to join and donate to the cause.

 

"There are certain entities, who are gun lobby entities, who claim certain amounts of membership in the millions of people. There’s one in particular that has 6 million members," Kasky said, referring to the National Rifle Association. "That means there’s 344 million Americans who are not members of your organization. But we also want to be able to say these are the Americans who disagree with your message. You’ve got your 6 million we’ve got our 344 million." 

Kasky started the super PAC shortly after the mass shooting on Valentine's Day and his son Cameron became one of the most visible student leaders in the March for Our Lives effort. The elder Kasky's goal is simple: raise money to fund ad campaigns against lawmakers who don't agree with their agenda. 

Kasky said the group isn't publicly announcing which races around the country will be a part of their effort until after primaries conclude nationwide in a few weeks, though he said the U.S. Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson along with the race for the open Florida governor's seat are on his radar personally. 

"When we find a candidate who disagrees with us then he or she will be in our crosshairs," Kasky said. "Then, we’ll take a look and see if the investment will be productive." 

The group's process is simple, Kasky said. Candidates or lawmakers are asked about their positions on banning bump stocks, limiting magazine sizes and if they support severely restricting assault weapons. If a candidate answers yes to all three, the group moves on. If not, the group will decide if the candidate is worth attacking during election season. 

"We’re looking at each race as a possible investment, if we look at a race and it looks like we can make a difference and it's close enough," Kasky said. "We know our opponents are very well-funded and that’s why were in this fundraising mode. Say our guy is 25 points behind in a traditionally conservative gun-friendly area, we’re not going to look at it, its a waste of our money." 

So far, the PAC has raised about $200,000 according to federal filings that were due at the end of June. If the group wants to compete with some of the nation's biggest super PACs who can swoop in with TV ads during the final weeks of a campaign it will need to raise millions of dollars. 

"It almost goes against every fiber of my being, I’m a professional mediator," Kasky said of the group's negative approach. "I’m a lover not a fighter, but the other side has made it very clear that this is the way they do things. We’re going to have to get a little dirty." 

Watch the ad here: 

August 06, 2018

Two Parkland families are backing Philip Levine on TV

Levine

@alextdaugherty

Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver, the parents of two children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are behind Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine's gubernatorial bid. 

Guttenberg and the Olivers, who have traveled around the country promoting increased gun control measures since the Valentine's Day shooting, both cut TV commercials for Levine's campaign that will go on the air tomorrow in the Miami-Dade and West Palm media markets as part of a six-figure ad buy according to Levine's campaign. 

"I am proud to announce my support of Philip Levine for Governor of Florida," Guttenberg tweeted. "I believe firmly that he will strongly support and reinforce the legislation passed after Parkland. ." 

Levine is trying to emerge victorious in a five-way primary later this month that includes former Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, real estate developer Jeff Greene and businessman Chris King.

"I really believe that Philip is a doer, he can show it, he's part of that team that we're looking for," Manuel said in the ad where he appears beside his wife Patricia. 

Guttenberg in particular gained a national profile after he confronted Sen. Marco Rubio at a televised town hall two weeks after the shooting. He's since appeared at events and protests around the country, arguing that Republicans in Congress aren't doing enough to prevent future mass shootings. 

"Levine's a doer, not a talker," Guttenberg said in his ad.

Watch both ads below: 

 

July 31, 2018

Bill Nelson wants to ban 3D printer-made plastic guns that can evade metal detectors

Plastic Guns

@alextdaugherty

In less than 24 hours, it could be possible to legally download blueprints that allow anyone with access to a 3D printer to make guns out of plastic.

Bill Nelson wants to ban it.

The Florida Democrat introduced a bill on Tuesday that would block the online publication of gun blueprints after the Trump administration decided to settle a lawsuit by a Texas anarchist who built a gun out of plastic in 2013 and posted the instructions online.

The Obama administration ordered the instructions to come down at the time, and the Department of Justice defended the government’s action in court after the anarchist sued for the right to publish until the Department of Justice reversed course in June.

“It just defies common sense and yet this is what the Trump administration has done,” Nelson said. “Just think of the billions of dollars we spend trying to protect national security. And now, suddenly there is going to be published on the internet the plans for making a gun that can evade the detection systems in airports and seaports and all of these governmental buildings as well as some sports stadiums.”

The blueprints could go online by midnight Wednesday unless Trump reverses course. On Tuesday morning Trump tweeted, “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

Read more here.

July 30, 2018

Parkland’s ‘most hated pro-gun advocate’ thrills conservatives

US NEWS FLA-SCHOOLSHOOTING-OPENHOUSE 7 MI

@alextdaugherty

A crowd of 800 teenagers, caffeinated on colorful Starbucks drinks that did not appear to contain coffee, sprang to their feet as Kyle Kashuv, the 17-year-old conservative Parkland student who gained a national following as a counterweight to the March For Our Lives, emerged on stage.

“Guys, we have a surprise for you,” Kashuv said as the riff from AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” played in the background. “You know what that means?”

David Hogg?” one student shouted back.

“We have shirts. We have shirts! We. Have. Shirts!” Kashuv replied, flinging T-shirts into the frenzied crowd like Frisbees.

Kashuv was in Washington last week for the culmination of months of work with the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA, where he now serves as the director of high school outreach. The teenagers in attendance at the group’s high school leadership conference at George Washington University had already been treated to a host of big-name conservative speakers invited by Kashuv, like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Instead of giving a talk to the students, Kashuv took questions.

One student who described herself as being from a “deep blue” part of Connecticut asked Kashuv what it was like dealing with liberal teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“A teacher tried to give me like an 89.4 and purposely gave me one point lower on a quiz to an 89.4 so I couldn’t get an ‘A’ in the class,” Kashuv replied. “But I power-moved her. I went to the administration and we made it happen.”

The crowd went wild.

Another asked him, what is his favorite dinosaur?

“T-Rex,” Kashuv said, before pausing and declaring his affinity for triceratops instead, prompting a smattering of jeers and cheers.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, a 24-year-old conservative who gained fame for protesting what he sees as liberal bias on college campuses and who was barred from speaking on Stoneman Douglas’ campus after the shooting, said Kashuv’s involvement with his group has given it more prominence within the conservative community, and it has benefited massively from Kashuv’s work to get dozens of Trump administration officials, members of Congress and celebrities like Mark Cuban to attend the conference.

“All the credit goes to Kyle,” Kirk said. “We’re nothing but an infrastructure that’s helped make this possible. We are a movement, don’t get me wrong, we were doing this before, but Kyle comes in and brings it to the next level. The energy, the enthusiasm, the speakers. He put his time, his talents behind this, and that’s a great partnership because we both benefit from this.”

Kashuv continues to talk about school safety and his support for the Second Amendment six months after the nation’s deadliest high school shooting and has appeared on TV dozens of times, but he’s branched out politically after successfully lobbying for a school safety bill in Congress earlier this year.

“He’s done an amazing job,” Scaramucci said, also emphasizing that his short term as White House communications director that ended after a vulgar rant recorded by a reporter was 11 days, not 10. “I think Kyle’s voice frankly is a much needed voice because it fits into a narrative of school safety, but recognizing that the founding fathers of our country wanted people to have the right to bear arms. I applaud all of these kids though.”

Read more here.

July 20, 2018

Youth voter registration went up 41 percent in Florida after Parkland

Student Gun Protests(2)

@alextdaugherty

A significant number of young people are registering to vote in Florida, and they could tilt this year’s midterm elections in the nation’s largest swing state, according to a new analysis of voter registration patterns.

The analysis by TargetSmart, a data firm that works on behalf of Democrats, shows that the share of newly registered Florida voters between the ages of 18-29 increased by eight percentage points in the two and a half months after the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Voters between the ages of 18-29 made up 26.23 percent of all new voter registrations in Florida in the two and a half months before Feb. 14, 2018. In the two and a half months after the shooting, young voters made up 34.22 percent of all new voter registrations in Florida.

The eight percentage point gain also shows that young voters are now a bigger share of all new voters. The percentage of new voter registrations from all other age groups in Florida decreased to compensate for the eight-point jump among 18- 29-year-olds.

The total number of young people registering to vote also went up. From Dec. 1, 2017, to Feb. 14, 2018, 27,789 18- 29-year-olds registered in Florida, and between Feb. 14 and April 30, 39,218 young people registered, according to TargetSmart. The 11,429 more voters that registered represent a 41 percent increase.

The total number of new voters from ages 30 to 49 increased slightly after the shooting, while the total number of new voters from ages 49 and up decreased by 4,240 votes in the three months after the shooting.

“A new generation of political leaders emerged in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy,” TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier said in a statement. “We witnessed their ability to organize in Florida and across the country as massive crowds took to the streets for the March for Our Lives, and now we’re seeing a quantifiable impact from that organizing. It remains to be seen how many of these younger registrants will cast a ballot in November, but they are poised to have a louder voice than ever in these critical midterm elections.”

The increase in young-voter registration among Florida voters as a percentage of the entire electorate ranks seventh among the 40 states where voter registration has been tracked since February, trailing Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Virginia, Indiana and Arizona.

Read more here.