October 29, 2016

Doral College, Flores accuse her challenger of 'untrue, malicious statements'



Miami Republican incumbent state Sen. Anitere Flores and her previous employer, Doral College, allege that Flores' opponent has made "untrue and malicious" statements that are "damaging" the college's reputation.

Doral College sent a letter to the Florida Democratic Party recently demanding that the party stop publishing and correct TV ads and direct-mail pieces that the college says contain "false" statements.

The state party is supporting Democrat and political newcomer Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, of Pinecrest, who's aiming to unseat Flores for Miami-Dade's District 39 Senate seat. The newly redrawn district is heavily Hispanic and leans Democratic.

Doral College in its letter -- which Flores' campaign provided to the Herald/Times -- accused the Democratic Party of repeating two falsehoods: "that Doral College is a for-profit college and the degrees obtained by its students are worthless."

"These claims are objectively false and warrant immediate correction," wrote Ryan Kairalla, the college's general counsel. Here's an example of a direct-mail piece containing the claims Flores and Doral College took issue with.

Kairalla is correct that the Democratic Party erred in referring to Doral College as a "for-profit" college. It is a not-for-profit institution -- although the company that it's associated with is for-profit -- but whether the college's degrees are "worthless" is a matter of continued dispute in the political battle between supporters of charter school programs and those who favor more traditional educational options.

Mucarsel-Powell said Flores' and Doral College's complaints were "yet another desperate attempt by Anitere Flores to distract from her shameful 12-year record in Tallahassee."

Continue reading "Doral College, Flores accuse her challenger of 'untrue, malicious statements'" »

October 28, 2016

Miami-Dade arrests 2 women in separate cases of election fraud

Absentee Rejects TC

A 74-year-old woman tasked with opening envelopes sent by Miami-Dade County voters with their completed mail ballots was arrested Friday after co-workers caught her illegally marking ballots, resulting in an unknown — but small — number of fraudulent votes being cast for mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado.

Investigators linked Gladys Coego, a temporary worker for the county elections department, to two fraudulent votes, but they suspect from witness testimony that she submitted several more.

Coego, of Westchester, turned herself into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Friday morning. She’s expected to be charged with two felony counts of marking another person’s ballot.

In a separate election-fraud case, authorities also arrested a second woman for unlawfully filling out voter-registration forms on behalf of United for Care, the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office plans to accuse Tomika Curgil, 33, of filling out forms for five people without their consent. She also submitted at least 17 forms for people who apparently don’t exist — and several forms for people who are dead.

Police officers arrested Curgil at her Liberty City home Friday morning and intend to charge her with five felony counts of submitting false voter-registration information.

More here.

Photo credit: Tim Chapman, Miami Herald file

Trump gets $125K from Miami Marlins owner Loria


The owner of the Miami Marlins has made his pick — for the election, that is, not the World Series.

Jeffry Loria — and his checkbook — are backing Donald Trump.

Loria donated $125,000 to Trump’s campaign late last month, according to a campaign-finance report Trump Victory filed late Thursday.

The contribution, first spotted by the Miami New Times, is dated Sept. 29. That’s two days after Trump mentioned Loria, a multi-millionaire art dealer, as the candidate campaigned in Little Havana, near Marlins Park.

Speaking to Cuban Americans at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Memorial Center on Sept. 27, Trump mourned the death two days earlier of Marlins star pitcher José Fernández, who was killed in a boat crash.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

October 27, 2016

West Wing's Josh Lyman calls Curbelo one of 'real heroes' on climate change


Actor Bradley Whitford, best known for his portrayal of Josh Lyman on NBC's "The West Wing," was probably not on Carlos Curbelo's list of political campaign surrogates.

Yet there was Whitford, who's known to be a Democratic activist, being interviewed on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday morning -- and mentioning the Miami Republican congressman by name.

Whitford was plugging his work for National Geographic's "Years of Living Dangerously" series. An upcoming episode titled "Gathering Storm" features Whitford exploring the Citizens' Climate Lobby's efforts to get Congress to act on the threat of climate change.

"My particular thing was dealing with Republicans who have been resistant to acknowledge the science on climate change," Whitford told "Today." "And there's some real heroes in Congress: Carlos Curbelo from the 26th district in Florida has shown that he really wants to work on this."

Curbelo and his Republican allies have been campaigning on his climate-change stance -- a key issue in his Westchester-to-Key West district. His Democratic challenger is former Rep. Joe Garcia.



Trump camp trying to suppress vote in Little Haiti, Bloomberg reports


Bloomberg Businessweek took a deep dive into the data operation of Donald Trump's campaign and found strategic voter-suppression efforts -- including in Miami's Little Haiti. 

The Trump team’s effort to discourage young women by rolling out Clinton accusers and drive down black turnout in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with targeted messages about the Clinton Foundation’s controversial operations in Haiti is an odd gambit. Campaigns spend millions on data science to understand their own potential supporters—to whom they’re likely already credible messengers—but here Trump is speaking to his opponent’s. Furthermore, there’s no scientific basis for thinking this ploy will convince these voters to stay home. It could just as easily end up motivating them.

Read the full story here.

October 25, 2016

Trump tries to win over Miami Cubans once again

Trump cubans

@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

With Florida slipping away from his electoral grasp, Donald Trump devoted much of Tuesday to Miami’s Cuban Americans, the reliably Republican voters who have stubbornly resisted this year to lean decisively toward the GOP nominee.

Trump paid tribute to Bay of Pigs veterans who had honored him with a historic endorsement.

He listened to the mother of Brothers to the Rescue pilot shot down by the Cuban government over the Florida Straits.

“Very sad story,” Trump told Miriam de la Pena.

And he eagerly repeated criticism of rival Hillary Clinton when longtime Miami Republican donor and activist Remedios Diaz-Oliver declared, “She has never done anything right.”

“It’s just about true,” Trump said. “She’s never done a thing right. Bad judgment.”

Trump’s overtures reflected his broader problem two weeks from Election Day: He has yet to consolidate the conservative vote. The more time he spends trying to do so, the less time he’s got to try to persuade independents and moderates who decide general elections.

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

'Scandals. Corruption. Convictions': House GOP-backed super PAC debuts anti-Garcia ad


Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC.

The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia's former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases.

"Scandals. Corruption. Convictions," the ad says. "We can't let Joe Garcia run his scheme on us again."

Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It's spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.)

"Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians," Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia's schemes. That's why they've rejected him once, and they’ll do it again."

Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing.

October 24, 2016

Miami Beach mayor's got a bus for fellow mayors to campaign for Clinton

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Here's Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's latest contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign: a bus.

Decked in Clinton's blue and white colors, the bus reads, "Mayors for Hillary." Underneath that, it says, "Clinton 'Souls to the Polls' Train."

The bus, organized by Levine and paid for by the Florida Democratic Party, has been rolling around Florida since last Wednesday, stopping at canvassing, phone-banking and other get-out-the-vote events. On Monday, it's in Miami-Dade County, hitting early voting sites and a Florida International University rally with Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Levine, a longtime Clinton friend and fundraiser, is part of her Florida "Leadership Council." She gave him a shout-out during her most recent Miami rally, which was focused on a key Miami Beach issue: climate change.

Frank Artiles manipulates facts in misleading attack ad on Dwight Bullard



Through a new Spanish-language TV ad and other campaign materials, state Senate candidate and Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles is falsely telling central Miami-Dade County voters his opponent “voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community.”

Artiles’ TV ad claims Cutler Bay Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard “was the only senator who voted against keeping our communities safe — the only one,” and that Artiles would be the one who would protect the communities of Senate District 40. He echoed the attack in an image he posted on Twitter, too, in which Artiles claimed he “led the way to keep sexual predators off the streets” while Bullard “voted in favor of releasing violent criminals.”

But Artiles’ assertions manipulate facts.

Bullard called the ad "disgusting" and another example of "gutter-level politics" from Artiles.

More here.

October 23, 2016

Trump plans visit to Cuban-exile brigade in Miami


Miami's veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion saluted Donald Trump picking him as the group's first-ever presidential endorsement. Now Trump is preparing to return the favor.

Trump plans to visit the 2506 Assault Brigade museum and library on Tuesday, the Miami Herald has learned. The Brigade emailed its members over the weekend to inform them that "we were contacted by his campaign to coordinate a visit...to discuss the Cuba issue."

Brigade 2506's executive board voted unanimously 10 days ago to back Trump. The group had never before made a presidential pick in its 55-year history. The endorsement came after Newsweek reported that Trump's casino company had violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in 1998, when it paid a consultant to explore business opportunities on the communist island.

Days before that revelation, Trump the presidential candidate had pledged in Miami to espouse a hard line on Cuba policy, reversing President Barack Obama's approach.

Trump had said in a 1999 speech to the Bay of Pigs veterans that Fidel Castro has "been a killer." "He's a criminal, and I don't think you should reward people who have done what he has done," Trump said. The crowd cheered, "¡Viva Donald Trump!"

His local backers have pointed to that speech and a Herald op-ed at the time to evidence that Trump -- even if he did spend money in violation of the embargo -- changed his mind about it later.

"The Brigade's board is very proud about Mr. Trump's statements about canceling and reversing all the concessions made by President B. Obama to the dictatorship of the tyrants to our Homeland, trying to guarantee that they remain in power," reads the Brigade's email about Trump's visit to the group's "house." The museum is located at 1821 SW 9th St.

Recent polls show Trump splitting or only narrowly defeating Clinton among Florida and Miami-Dade County Cuban Americans, a sign that he has been unable to shore up support like his Republican predecessors have. Cuban Americans make up more than 70 percent of Miami-Dade's registered Republicans.

Trump's public schedule lists him holding a rally at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Sanford. He's been in Florida since late Saturday night, ahead of three days of campaigning in what for him is a must-win state against Hillary Clinton.

Photo credit: Tim Chapman, Miami Herald file