October 03, 2016

In new TV ad, Ros-Lehtinen says she's fought sea-level rise


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen casts herself as something of an environmentalist in a new TV ad her congressional reelection campaign released Monday.

The spot features Ros-Lehtinen at a factory where she talks about the importance of creating jobs and focusing on South Florida's economy -- which is why, she says, she "worked to arrest the effects of sea-level rise: because our community's jobs depend on pristine beaches and natural beauty."

Especially notable is that the ad is running in both English and Spanish. In South Florida's ethnic politics, most candidates typically address the environment in English, trying to appeal to non-Hispanic whites who more frequently cite that as a top issue.

Over the summer, Ros-Lehtinen a filed legislation to promote coral-reef restoration, which they said would help limit potential destruction from higher storm surge given sea-level rise. Earlier this year, she also supported a bill requiring foreign companies to be on the hook for more cleanup costs for oil spills in nearby foreign waters.

Ros-Lehtinen and Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo are seeking reelection for the first time under redrawn districts that lean more Democratic, and both are now campaigning on their positions on the environment, which is unusual for Republicans.

Ros-Lehtinen faces a challenge from Democrat Scott Fuhrman, whom she has slammed on the airwaves for weeks. He has made climate change a key issue in his campaign. 

September 23, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen, Ortega toss verbal grenades at each other

NP-ILR-092316-Florida_Candidates 05 EKM


Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Nicaraguan government traded bitter criticisms Friday over charges of intimidation and repression.

The exchange started with a statement by the Managua government opposing an effort in Congress led by Ros-Lehtinen to restrict its access to loans in what would be a form of economic sanctions.

Without citing the Miami Republican by name, Nicaragua accused her and other lawmakers of having "been involved in disinformation and intimidation campaigns in the media against Democratic, pluralistic and progressive processes in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The alleged interference in Latin America appeared to be a reference to lawmakers' past criticism of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

Ros-Lehtinen has been especially critical of Cuba and its allies in Venezuela and Nicaragua, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and other Cuban-American members of Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen fired back at the Nicaraguan government's latest salvo.

"Ortega's baseless accusations are just his latest attempt to detract attention away from the human rights abuses and the acts of corruption and intimidation he has been perpetrating in Nicaragua, but nobody is fooled," she said.

While Ros-Lehtinen targeted Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the statement criticizing her bill came from the government he heads, not from him personally, although he all but certainly approved it.

And although Ros-Lehtinen said Ortega had attacked her, the Nicaraguan government statement did not mention her or any other lawmaker by name.

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure that would place U.S. limits on loans to the Ortega government unless it accepts international observers and other steps toward holding free elections.

Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Albio Sires, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey, were lead sponsors of the legislation. The Senate has not pass a companion bill.

Ros-Lehtinen said her measure's main aim was to “stop Ortega from accessing international funds until he adopts reforms that promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, respect human rights, and celebrate free, fair, and transparent elections supervised by electoral observers.”

For more, read here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot



Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

Photo credit: C. M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy


September 14, 2016

Competing demands crowd Zika money



WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy



September 13, 2016

Florida members of Congress to Gov. Rick Scott: Ask for clean Zika bill


Nine Florida members of Congress asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his Tuesday visit to Washington to advocate for a "clean" Zika funding bill, free of any politically charged amendments that would make it more difficult for the legislation to win bipartisan approval.

"The stakes are too high to allow partisan riders to hold up this critical support, and existing funding is set to run out by the end of this month," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. "There are over 300 cases of Zika in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, 84 of which involve pregnant women. For pregnant mothers in areas with Zika, not knowing whether one mosquito bite will dramatically alter their unborn child’s life is a daily fear, especially in South Florida, where mosquitos are year-round inhabitants."

The letter, led by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, was signed by Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Kathy Castor of Tampa and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens. They were joined by two Miami Republicans, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Scott will be on Capitol Hill lobbying for Zika money through Wednesday.

September 07, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen attacks Democratic rival's criminal driving record in TV ads



Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen debuted a pair of hard-hitting television ads Wednesday slamming her Democratic challenger, Scott Fuhrman, as untrustworthy because of his criminal driving record.

One spot centers on the father of a 16-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver. The other features the retired Miami-Dade County police sergeant who responded to the girl’s 2000 death. Though Fuhrman was not involved, both show an illustration of Fuhrman behind bars.

“My 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie Witty, was killed by a drunk driver on Red Road,” John Witty says into the camera. “Now another drunk driver, Scott Fuhrman, wants to be in Congress, even after also being convicted of possessing a firearm while intoxicated. Less than three years ago, he fled on foot from a hit-and-run on U.S. 1.”

Retired Sgt. David Greenwell, who introduces himself “as a 33-year police veteran and 16 years as a supervisor in traffic homicide,” delivers a similar message.

“I don’t trust Scott Fuhrman in Congress,” he says.

Ros-Lehtinen is not considered one of the most vulnerable Florida Republicans in Congress, though her redrawn 27th district now leans Democratic. But Fuhrman, who runs his family juice-bottling business in Allapattah, is well-heeled enough to run more than a token opposition campaign. He sent plenty of fliers ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, which he won easily, and has hammered Congress for inaction on the Zika virus.

More here.

August 31, 2016

DCCC praises Scott Fuhrman, who'll challenge Ros-Lehtinen in November


Political newcomer Scott Fuhrman easily won the Democratic primary Tuesday in Florida's 27th congressional district, winning him the chance to challenge longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who also cruised to victory.

Fuhrman received 59 percent of the vote over Frank Perez's 24 percent and Adam Sackrin's 17 percent. Neither Perez nor Sackrin campaigned much, while Fuhrman, who is personally wealthy, mailed plenty of fliers to reliable primary voters.

"The results from yesterday's primary victory made clear that Democrats are united in taking back the House seat by seat," Fuhrman said in a statement Wednesday. "I am dedicated to standing up to special interests like the NRA on behalf of the families torn by gun violence in our district and around the country. I'm the only candidate to sign Bullsugar's pledge to protect the environment from the dumping by Big Sugar, and I stood for Miami families terrified by Zika after Congress failed to act."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which didn't actively recruit Fuhrman or anyone else to go up against the popular Ros-Lehtinen, praised his win.

"Fuhrman's efforts to hold Republicans accountable for their failure to provide funding to combat the growing Zika epidemic is a clear example that he is willing to fight for South Florida's priorities," DCCC spokesman Jermaine House said in a statement.

August 30, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen claims victory in GOP congressional primary


U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami claimed an early victory Tuesday in her Republican primary.

Early results in her Miami-Dade County district showed her trouncing her two little-known rivals, David "Tubbs" Adams and Maria Peiro.

"I work diligently for our community both at home and in Congress and that message came through loud and clear during this Republican primary election," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "From supporting small businesses and our economy to helping ensure our national security, I know that South Florida needs an advocate in Congress. I've been proud to stand up for our community on bipartisan issues like climate change to ensure our children and grandchildren have economic as well as environmental futures here.

"I invite Democrats, Independents, and all South Floridians to join my campaign so that we will continue to have a strong voice in Congress," she continued. "I'm grateful for the trust South Florida's Republican primary voters have put in me and am ready to again make my case for why I'm the best qualified candidate to represent our community."

She will face a general-election race in November.

Florida lawmakers urge tough steps against Venezuela



Florida's congressional delegation has the biggest presence in a bipartisan letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to extend sanctions and take other tough steps against the Venezuelan government.

Nine of the 30 lawmakers who signed the letter to Kerry and Lew are from the Sunshine State, among them South Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, plus Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson.

Also on the letter are Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and John Mica of Winter Park, plus Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of West Boca Raton.

"People are literally starving, suicide rates are rising and the government continues to repress its people," the lawmakers wrote.

Congress in July passed legislation sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami, which President Barack Obama signed into law, extending sanctions on human rights abusers in Venezuela.

"However, the are scores of other Venezuelan officials, including within the Supreme Court, federal judiciary, judges in various states, national and state prosecutors, and police and security officers who have reportedly directly engaged in human rights abuses, efforts to undermine democracy and public corruption," the lawmakers wrote to Kerry and Lew.

The 30 House members called on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to hold a recall referendum this year, release all political prisoners, follow democratic principles, permit the delivery of emergency food and medicine, and stop government support for drug trafficking.

To read the letter:

August 22, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen goes up on TV

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen_2

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen isn't taking any chances.

The Miami Republican is expected to comfortably defeat her novice primary opponents on Aug. 30. She's not seen as being in much more danger in the Nov. 8 general election, even though her district is now more Democratic and her likely opponent, political newcomer Scott Fuhrman, has said he'll put his own wealth into the campaign.

Nevertheless, Ros-Lehtinen is on the air on South Florida television, in an apparent get-out-the-vote effort that could also help keep her favorable opinion ratings and name ID up through November.

Here's the ad:


Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald