October 01, 2015

Hillary Clinton emails reveal aide exchanges about Marco Rubio, with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


via @learyreports

High ranking aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feared Sen. Marco Rubio would hold up a nominee in retaliation for the proposed Obama administration's prisoner exchange with Cuba in 2011.

A statement Rubio issued went up the chain of command to Clinton, now of course a presidential rival of Rubio’s.

“Rubio statement re negotiations around Alan Gross,” an aide wrote in a October 2011 email to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. “In expressing his frustration, he alludes that he’ll take it out on Roberta during the confirmation process.”

Rubio did put a hold on Roberta Jacobson from being confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, but cited a different issue. Rubio dropped the hold in March 2012 but Obama got his exchange in 2014.

It’s not unusual that Clinton and her team would monitor issues related to Foggy Bottom. The Rubio mention was among Clinton emails made public on Wednesday, part of the massive disclosure of her private email server.

Another email Clinton got, in March 2011, was a copy of a Haiti-related article in Miami Herald quoting Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Ros-Lehtinen, who had been chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, emailed Mills in January 2011 to nail down a trip to Haiti.

“I’m good to go! Ily,” the lawmaker wrote.

“Can’t wait - we will take good care of  you,” Mills wrote.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 25, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner resigns

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will resign at the end of October, shaking up the leadership of the Congress.

Boehner has been under constant criticism from conservatives, who have demanded a more confrontational approach to President Barack Obama. The latest flashpoint is the desire to stop federal financing of Planned Parenthood, which some conservatives insist be tied to any measure keeping the government open when appropriations expire Sept. 30.

Boehner had signed onto an alternative plan that would allow the government to stay open, and give conservatives a separate vote on Planned Parenthood funding, which ultimately would fail with an Obama veto.

When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced at the Value Voters Summit this morning that Boehner would be resigning it drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Here is Boehner's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

Here is the reaction from the South Florida Congressional delegation and other political figures (this post will be updated):

Continue reading "House Speaker John Boehner resigns" »

September 15, 2015

Miami Republicans in Congress sign on to climate-change resolution


In a symbolic move ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Congress, a group of Republicans plans to file a resolution acknowledging climate change caused at least in part by human activities and pledging to address its detrimental consequences.

Among those U.S. House members signing on are Miami Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of whom represent coastal South Florida districts. Curbelo's district includes the low-lying Florida Keys.

"South Florida is the frontline of climate change, where we have seen its negative impact in the form of rising sea-levels and the erosion of our coastal communities," Curbelo said in a statement. "In Miami-Dade County alone, more people live less than a mere four feet above sea level than any state in the union with the exception of Louisiana. In fact, 40 percent of Florida's population is at risk of rising sea levels, posing a clear and present danger.

"Our goal with this resolution is to shift the debate from whether climate change is real to what we can do to mitigate its effects."

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., would commit the House to "working constructively...to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact."

Continue reading "Miami Republicans in Congress sign on to climate-change resolution" »

September 11, 2015

Florida lawmakers call for more Venezuela sanctions after Leopoldo López verdict

via @jimwyss

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Florida lawmakers are calling for a fresh round of sanctions against Venezuela, after opposition leader Leopoldo López was sentenced to 13 years, nine months and 12 days in prison for his role in last year’s national protests.

Civil rights groups and legal experts said the case was marred by irregularities.

On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential hopeful, called on the Obama administration to fully implement the “Venezuela defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014,” which denies visas and freezes assets of human rights violators.

“Leopoldo López’s arrest, incarceration, show trial and prison sentence have all been a sham,” Rubio said in a statement. “The Venezuelan regime is robbing Leopoldo of his freedom, his wife of a husband, his kids of a father and the Venezuelan people of a leader committed to their democratic aspirations.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also a Florida Republican, called on the administration to slap sanctions on the judges, prosecutors and prison officials “involved in this politically motivated sentencing.”

“The malicious use of the judicial system as an instrument to punish and persecute dissent is only part of the problem with [President Nicolás] Maduro’s brutal regime that persists on ruling Venezuela with an iron fist,” she said. “I call on all responsible nations to condemn this miscarriage of justice and call for Leopoldo’s immediate, unconditional release.”

López, 44, was jailed in February of 2014 after leading a massive national strike that went on for weeks and left more than 40 people dead amid opposition and pro-regime clashes.

More here.

August 25, 2015

Miami congresswoman calls for public hearing on Miami boat show permit


Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to hold a public hearing before making a final decision on a permit to allow the city of Miami to host the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has a license agreement with the city to move their massive industry event from the Miami Beach Convention Center to a utility-lined lawn outside the Miami Marine Stadium. Boats would also be exhibited in the Marine Stadium basin, and thousands of attendees are expected to take water taxis to the show.

In an application submitted months ago for a permit, Boat Show organizers sought permission to erect temporary docks and walkways large enough to cover more than four football fields. They have since said the show won't be nearly that large, but environmentalists and residents from nearby Key Biscayne are opposed to hosting the event on Virginia Key due to concerns about traffic and potential damage to an environmentally sensitive area. (The Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area is located on the north bank of the basin.)

A protest is scheduled Saturday morning.

In May, Key Biscayne village officials requested a public hearing. Ros-Lehtinen, whose district includes both keys, wrote to the commander of the Army Corps Jacksonville District Tuesday to request that their wish be granted.

"The issues raised by the Village of Key Biscayne regarding this permit application should warrant a public hearing," wrote Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. "It is important that this process is conducted in an open and fair way."

August 19, 2015

Venezuelan president publicizes video naming Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as anti-government protest financiers


On Tuesday night, Marco Rubio was flying back to Miami from a presidential campaign trip to Iowa. Meantime, his name was being invoked on state-run television -- in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro publicized a video in which an accused murderer claims last year's protests against the Venezuelan government were financed in part by Rubio and another Miami Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Both politicians denounced the allegations as absurd.

Prisoner José Rafael Pérez Venta offers no details in the video about how much money was involved or how it was obtained, other than the say it came through a woman he identified as Betti Grossi, according to a Spanish-language report by the EFE news agency.

Pérez Venta also claims ties to Maduro's political opponents in Venezuela, and says further financing for protests came from a U.S. embassy worker and from the government of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe, Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen are vocal Maduro critics.

The video is of a purported interrogation in which an off-screen interrogator whose voice has been distorted asks questions to Pérez Venta, who has been accused with dismembering a woman whose body parts were find on the side of a Caracas road. Venezuela is one of the world's most dangerous countries.

Continue reading "Venezuelan president publicizes video naming Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as anti-government protest financiers" »

Attempt to change Miami-Dade congressional districts fails


Florida Senator Dwight Bullard’s attempt to redraw a pair of congressional districts in Miami-Dade did not get far on Wednesday.

Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, tried to change a proposed redistricting map that would shift 35,000 black voters from the 26th Congressional, represented by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, into the 27th District, which is not represented by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Bullard specifically proposed shifting Richmond Heights, Palmetto Estates, and West Perrine back into the 26th District.

The Senate voted down the amendment, which would keep those communities contained in the Ros-Lehtinen district.

Bullard’s amendment comes days after a coalition of voting groups sent a warning shot to Florida lawmakers, claiming that their proposal for revising Miami-Dade’s most competitive congressional district appears to have been designed to boost the chances of Curbelo, who is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Annette Taddeo in 2016.

For the last several years District 26 has had one of the most turbulent election histories in the state.

Curbelo defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia by 3 percentage points in 2014 but Taddeo, who was then on the ballot as the running mate for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, was also popular. The Crist-Taddeo ticket won the district by 5 points over Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera.

In a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida suggested that shifting 35,000 black voters from Congressional District 26 into Congressional District 27, has a “partisan effect” that violates the anti-gerrymandering rules of the Florida Constitution.

Legislative map drawers have said they shifted the communities after being told by the Florida Supreme Court to not split Homestead, which was fully included into Curbelo’s district. Because of that, the area’s Bullard highlighted were shifted into Ros-Lehtinen’s district.

August 13, 2015

Florida politicians react to U.S. embassy opening in Havana


South Florida Republicans in particular are upset about the Obama administration's planned opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana Friday. We'll update this post with statements as we get them.

(We posted separate blog items about a Marco Rubio speech, and about a Jeb Bush statement.)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

John Kerry's presence in Havana on his global capitulation tour is yet another example of the Obama administration’s d’esire to pursue deals at any cost. While the Castro brothers will roll out the red carpet for Secretary Kerry, the people of Cuba will continue to be met with violence and detentions. While Secretary Kerry just changes the sign on the door at our post, he purposefully forgets that the Castro regime tries to prevent the people of Cuba from even reaching our building.  While political prisoners languish in Castro’s gulags, Secretary Kerry will be shaking hands with their oppressor. The arrest of more than 100 pro-democracy leaders just days before Kerry’s visit should provide proof enough that the Castro regime has no intention of changing, so why should our policies change?

From a dangerous Iran deal to being weak against North Korea to giving in to the demands of the Castro brothers, this administration has demonstrated it imposes no moral bar to negotiating with tyrannical regimes. It is a shame we continue to give away so much in exchange for nothing since the White House was unable to ensure democratic freedoms for the people of Cuba, the return of fugitives from American justice, or compensation for illegally confiscated properties. Our country stands for so much more than the pittance it has accepted from the Castro regime.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 2016 Republican U.S. Senate

The Obama Administration’s refusal to invite pro-democracy leaders to Friday’s U.S. Embassy ceremony in Havana is a shameful embarrassment that emboldens Castro's repressive regime. Once again, it demonstrates that President Obama is committed to a policy that allows the Castros to dictate the terms and conditions of their relationship with the U.S., to the detriment of the Cuban people’s right to freedom and self-determination.

During his visit to the enslaved island of Cuba, I call on Secretary Kerry to demand the dictatorship immediately release all political prisoners and end the repeated violence against peaceful pro-democracy leaders. Because the Obama Administration has decided to proceed with normalization while disregarding the clear evidence of increased brutality against peaceful dissidents, President Obama now bears the responsibility for the violence that will continue to be inflicted upon the Cuban people.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to U.S. embassy opening in Havana" »

July 20, 2015

'Sad' day for Miami GOP members of Congress over Cuban embassy opening

Mario21 cuba new hmg


The three amigos, as U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls herself and Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, watched Monday morning from Miami as the Cuban flag rose once again in Washington D.C.

In the afternoon, they gathered in Ros-Lehtinen's district office to declare it a "sad" day for Cuban Americans who have fought to keep the dictatorship isolated until the Castro regime becomes a democracy. The three Miami Republicans stood next to posters brandishing images of beaten up Cuban dissidents and the four men who died shot down by the Cuban government in the Brothers to the Rescue flights of 1996.

"There is not enough room in this office to display the faces of the opposition," Ros-Lehtinen said. 

Diaz-Balart said he won't consider a Cuban ambassador or other diplomats representatives of the people who live on the island.

"Cuba's true leaders, those are the ones that are in the prisons,"  Diaz-Balart said, or who've had their professional licenses or rationing cards taken away as a punishment for their political views. "The Castro regime is not the Cuban people. If only we had a president who knew the difference."

Continue reading "'Sad' day for Miami GOP members of Congress over Cuban embassy opening" »

July 15, 2015

Jeb Bush calls Miami congresswoman, gets voicemail, sings 'Happy Birthday'


Wednesday is Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's birthday.

Her pick in the 2016 GOP presidential race, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, called to congratulate her. He got her voicemail.

So he sang to her machine instead. The full song.

"Happy birthday dear Ily," he intoned. Then: "This is Jeb." 

Ros-Lehtinen, true to form, posted the message to Twitter. Bush managed her first campaign for Congress, in 1989.