May 15, 2010

Immigration debate comes back to haunt Mel Martinez

Images The debate over Arizona's strict new immigration law is giving Mel Martinez -- the Republican senator from Florida who took early retirement last year -- an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.

Martinez, the first Cuban American elected to the U.S. Senate, was at the center of the firestorm over immigration reform in 2006. Activists opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship mailed build-up-the-border bricks to the senator's office. The legislation collapsed as some unions balked, conservative Republicans cried against "amnesty,'' and anti-immigrant fervor laced talk radio.

Here we go again.

Taking matters into its own hands, Arizona has passed a polarizing law making it a crime not to carry a green card and empowering local police to enforce immigration law.

"I kind of cringe to see it all start again, to hear the same angry voices,'' said Martinez, now a lawyer/lobbyist at DLA Piper in Orlando. "What frustrates me so much is people equating illegal immigrants with criminals. You hear people talking about an invasion of our country.''

Full column here.

April 13, 2010

Mel Martinez lands another corporate gig

From the press release: "Stoneleigh Companies LLC announces the addition of Senator Mel Martinez to the Board of Managers and as a Principal of the firm effective April 1, 2010. Senator Martinez was the former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 – 2003 and most recently was the US Senator representing the State of Florida from 2005 - 2009. Upon his retirement from the US Senate in September 2009, Senator Martinez joined the law firm of DLA Piper as Partner based in Orlando, Florida and Washington DC.

Continue reading "Mel Martinez lands another corporate gig " »

March 17, 2010

Are Mel Martinez and Lincoln Diaz-Balart backing a "birther"?

The Washington Post blogs that Ben Loyola, a Cuban-American who has been endorsed by Mel Martinez and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, said in an interview posted on the blog Bearing Drift that he is not sure President Obama was born in the United States.

"When asked if Obama was a 'natural born United States citizen,' Loyola responded 'I'm not sure, and that troubles me.'

"Read the full interview. The interview from Va Blogger of Too Conservative was conducted in August 2009, but just posted online today. Loyola is one of several Republicans competing in a congressional district primary in the Hampton Roads area to run against Democrat Rep. Glenn Nye.

Loyola spokesman Joshua Clark told the Post that the answers were accurate -- "and that he answered that way because he doesn't know whether the president was born in the United States or not."

February 18, 2010

February 12, 2010

Mel Martinez: Twitter Quitter

Mel Martinez took his lumps for quitting before his Senate term was up -- now the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Florida Republican is a "Twitter Quitter.

"The US Republican party has its share of Twitter quitters, too," the newspaper writes. "Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe last tweeted in December 2008. Florida Senator Mel Martinez hasn't made a peep since last July."

Could be cause he left office...

December 23, 2009

Quite the post-Xmas sale at the Rothstein auction

You want a piece of Scott Rothstein?

You can buy it at a Jan. 23 auction. The full inventory of what was left behind at Scott Rothstein's law firm is now posted in bankruptcy court.

There are several signed photos of politicians including Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (plus a limited edition knife signed by that governor.)

Photos of other political figures linclude U.S. Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Gov. Jeb Bush, former U.S. Senatoror Mel Martinez, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Also listed: lots of sports memorabiliia including shoes signed by Shaq and signed Dolphins footballs. There are plenty of other fancy goodies including binoculars, a humidor, cuff links and a crystal ice bucket.

October 01, 2009

Ferre says he will announce Wednesday

Ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre said he will make an announcement "the modern way'' on Wednesday about whether he is running for the U.S. Senate.

Does that mean an e-mail? A pod-cast? Facebook?

"You'll just have to wait and see,'' said Ferre, who hasn't been in public office since 1996 -- two years before Google was incorporated.

Some deep digging turned up a Twitter account opened two days ago with seven followers (including me). His debut Tweet: "Florida needs a pro in Senate, not a rookie."

September 23, 2009

Martinez confirms his new job

DLA Piper confirmed today it has hired former Sen. Mel Martinez as a partner in its Tampa and Washington office. The firm says Martinez brings "extensive legislative and legal experience to the firm and will advise clients on government affairs, litigation, financial services, real estate, energy, defense, infrastructure development and other matters."

DLA Piper global chairman Francis Burch said the former senator has "vast experience and a significant network of international contacts, particularly in Spain and in Latin America which will be a major area of growth and expansion for DLA Piper over the next year."

Here's a look at the firm's lobbying practices, courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Martinez -- who quit his term 16 months early, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family -- said in a statement he will still get family time.

"DLA Piper’s global footprint and international networks provide me with the ideal platform to return to private legal practice, while allowing me to stay close to home and my family," he said. "The firm has market-leading practices in areas like financial services, energy, real estate and defense, where I know I can make a significant contribution. Working in DLA Piper’s offices in Florida, I look forward to helping the firm grow its practice in Latin America and collaborating with a team of distinguished lawyers and professionals with the highest level of legislative knowledge and diplomatic skill."

September 22, 2009

Mel Martinez lands a job

Says BLT - the Blog of Legal Times -- which says the former Florida senator has been hired by law firm DLA Piper as a partner in its Washington and Tampa offices.

"DLA Piper partner Ignacio Sanchez confirmed the news following a partnership vote. Martinez, who left the Senate earlier this month, starts at the firm on Oct. 1.

" 'When he announced he was going to retire and let the governor appoint someone to finish out the term, I immediately talked to him and said, you really ought to consider looking at our firm. I think you would really do well, and we would love to have you,' Sanchez said."

Martinez will not be able to lobby for at least 2 years.


September 17, 2009

LeMieux flexes some muscle: Seeks to block energy bill

A week into his tenure, new Florida Sen. George LeMieux is flexing some legislative muscle. He's told Republican Leader Mitch McConnell he'll block the Senate's energy bill until Florida's concerns are addressed.

A provision in the bill would open Florida shores to oil and gas exploration, but wouldn't compensate the state for it. In the letter, LeMieux says he wants to be consulted "before any efforts or agreements are reached to advance legislation dealing with drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."

A staffer said LeMieux believes that "if energy exploration is going to occur in Florida waters, Florida ought to have a say in how that's done and receive its fair share of revenue."  He noted LeMieux could support something that was "far enough, clean enough, safe enough and included revenue" -- words nearly identical to those of the man who appointed LeMieux to the seat, Gov. Charlie Crist.

It's a departure from retired Sen. Mel Martinez's opposition to offshore exploration in Florida waters, but it reflects Crist's position. The guv, who is running for the Senate seat, last summer began backing away from his opposition to oil drilling. He suggested in July he could accept something that was "far enough, clean enough and safe enough to protect Florida's beautiful beaches."

Wonder what it portends for LeMieux's relationship with Sen. Bill Nelson, who frequently said he and Martinez were "joined at the hip" in their opposition to oil drilling?