May 12, 2011

Mike Huckabee goes whole hog for Mike Haridopolos

Mike Haridopolos announced his first major endorsement of the Republican U.S. Senate primary -- former 2010 presidential contender Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee wife gave $4,800 to Haridopolos. In a fundraising letter going out today, Huckabee writes: "We need more street-smart fighters in the Senate -- like Marco Rubio -- capable of stopping the Democrats’ unprecedented spending and government intervention. That is why retiring Bill Nelson and electing Mike Haridopolos is critical."

It's not entirely surprising. Haridopolos was Huckabee's Florida chairman. Both are also Arkansas Razorbacks. As Haridopolos once said: "I'm a Razorback. When I support someone, I go whole hog."

May 10, 2011

May 06, 2011

We're in overtime! The anatomy of a session meltdown

Bitter and exhausted, Republicans in the Florida Legislature officially extended the 2011 lawmaking session into overtime late Friday as the House and Senate began killing each other's bills unexpectedly. UPDATE Session actually ended at 3:34 a.m

"It's an enormous power struggle," said Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico. She blamed the meltdown on the proliferation of conference reports, the product of joint House-Senate committees.

In all, legislative leaders wanted rank-and-file lawmakers to pass 44 conference reports. Some of the legislation was decided in the final days, was written by a few lawmakers and made major policy changes that irked those who weren't on the inside. The frustration and suspicion created a political powder keg, and despite the fact that Republicans overwhelmingly control both chambers of the Legislature, they ran out of time and patience with each other.

"It just didn't work out," Senate President Mike Haridopolos said early Saturday morning. "We would rather get it right then get out on time."

Haridopolos said his chamber will only pass one more bill: HB 7023, a $126 million tax-cut and economic development package.

"Ill sleep in my office. And if they just send over tax relief, we can go home," Haridopolos said.

Continue reading "We're in overtime! The anatomy of a session meltdown" »

Proof that Mike Haridopolos is ready for the NFL

Sign The Florida Democratic Party had a good laugh at Senate President Mike Haridopolos' expense by disseminating a coloring book adaptation of his work, Florida Legislative History and Processes. Asked about it and a request from Dem party spokesman Eric Jotkoff that he sign the book, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate said it's all part of the game of politics.

What did Charlie Crist say? Welcome to the NFL? I guess I'm ready for the NFL," Haridopolos said. He then requested to see the book and smiled. He said he'd sign it and used a Miami Herald pen.

"See you in D.C." he wrote.

Sorry, Eric, we're keeping it.


Dems mock Mike Haridopolos with coloring book

IMG_5328 If the Florida Democratic Party was at good as fielding great candidates and turning out the votes as it is mockingly clever, it probably would be in the majority. Consider the coloring book adaptation of Senate President Mike Haridopolos' Florida Legislative History and Processes. Dems are passing it out to the lobbying corps on the 4th floor of the Capitol, where even hardcore Republicans can't suppress a chuckle. Background is here

The Dems later issued a press release in which it used the coloring book as this fundraising pitch:
Haridopolos was paid $152,000 of taxpayer’s money for a book that was never published since it turned out to be less informative than watching the School House Rock video.

As this session closes, we have discovered a more interactive coloring book version, which is an equally informative sequel to Haridopolos’ book.

While you can download the coloring book for free, since Floridians have already paid the price for Haridopolos’ sweetheart dealings, we hope you will consider donating $5 to the Florida Democratic Party to help us hold Mike Haridopolos and the other Republicans accountable.


May 04, 2011

House gift for Mike Haridopolos: His constitutional amendments

The Florida Legislature handed Senate President Mike Haridopolos an elections gift Wednesday when it approved two proposed constitutional amendments concerning healthcare and taxes that could join him on the 2012 ballot.

 Haridopolos, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, said he proposed the amendments to give voters a choice over how their government is run. 

 One amendment would cap future state spending, the other aims to block the requirement that people purchase health insurance, as outlined in President Obama’s healthcare plan.

 “I’m not rushing it on the ballot,” Haridopolos said. “This is long term. The more people learn about these issues, the more they’ll be supportive.”

Both measures cleared the House floor on Wednesday on largely party-line votes. The House also approved another amendment capping property taxes of wounded veterans, and the Senate approved two amendments concerning a cap on non-homesteaded property taxes as well as a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said Republicans were just trying to gin up their base in a presidential election year, when Democrats tend to vote in larger proportions than Republicans.

“You really want to get out the vote on the right on Election Day,” Schwartz said.

Democrats said Haridopolos’ so-called “SmartCap” proposal to limit tax and fee revenues would hurt the state’s bond rating and made bad budget sense.

“You have so little confidence in yourselves that you can’t control your own spending,” Schwartz said.

But Republican leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, said the revenue cap was inflexible. He said lawmakers can cast a two-thirds vote to collect tax money in larger amounts. He also dismissed the Democrats’ claim that future legislators would be hurt by the tax cap.

“I don’t worry about our future leaders – as long as they’re conservatives,” Lopez-Cantera said.

E-Verify may haunt Haridopolos

Rick Scott last year throttled Bill McCollum on immigration, accusing him of being soft in the issue and a flip-flopper. Now U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos is sure to take some heat for failing to get a tough anti-illegal immigration bill passed in the senate he leads. Senators passed immigration bill critics will call toothless because it was stripped of a requirement that private employers use the federal E-Verify system to check a worker's immigration status.

Check out the first 30-seconds of this March 8 video, where Haridopolos responds to activists chanting E-Verify! E-Verify.

"I'm here to verify it will be a part of our senate bill,'' Haridopolos assured the crowd. Ouch.

Haridopolos said this evening that he had hoped to get more elements of E-Verify in the bill, but "I'm only one of 40 senators."

With immigration bill likely dead, what happens to Mike Haridopolos' Senate bid?

In an emotional debate during which senators choked up and recalled the struggles of their immigrant forebears, the Florida Senate on Tuesday unexpectedly defeated one of Gov. Rick Scott’s pledges to crack down on illegal immigration.

The 23-16 vote to defeat an amendment to institute E-Verify, the federal government’s system to check a worker’s immigration status, could ultimately doom any immigration crackdown.

The annual legislative session will end Friday, and House members say they won’t take a watered-down immigration bill without a stronger E-Verify component.

“The process does not really allow for a piece of legislation like this to come in the waning hours,” said Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, a mild-mannered retired Miami-Dade cop and the bill’s House sponsor. He called the possibility of the House’s taking up the Senate’s bill “improbable.”

The Senate might wait for the House to take up the measure. The House might wait for the Senate. So the bill itself could be dead because the E-Verify amendment was killed.

Senate President Haridopolos was on the losing side of a vote that he said was “not really” surprising, though he thought it would be closer.

“I’ve proven on many different times I’m not a dictator,” he said, noting members vote their will. To grassroots Republicans, he said he would point out that his chamber is fiscally conservative, having cut spending and taxes.

Still, Haridopolos put his members on the board for an emotional vote -- one that some fear could cost them. Technically, it could have been done as a voice vote and Haridopolos would have made the call as to whether it passed or note (though a board vote could've been forced if five members requested it).

Will this have an effect on Haridopolos U.S. Senate bid? Polls show Republicans wildly favor immigration crackdowns. Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic, don't. But, by and large, the only Republican Hispanics are Cubans, and they have special immigration status. So this bill doesn't affect them as much as, say, people from Central America.

And it affects white-bread farmers as well. Case in point: Sen. J.D. Alexander, the Senate budget chief who wound up carrying the bill after it was yanked from Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami. Alexander persuasively argued against e-Verify and he probably swayed some votes. How many? Who knows. Could Haridopolos have handled this differently?

Haridopolos says there's always "Monday morning quarterbacking." Indeed. Game's on.

More here

April 30, 2011

Big-money doc donors to Scott, Cannon, Haridopolos try to kill pill price-fixing

n the opening days of the lawmaking session, two low-profile South Florida doctors helped funnel $70,000 to politicians and political groups, bringing their total contributions to an eye-opening $3 million in just one year.

In the next two days, as lawmakers hammer out the state budget, it’ll become clear if doctors Paul Zimmerman and Gerald Glass will get a return on their political investments.

The two doctors are the founders of a Miramar-based company called Automated Healthcare Solutions, which sells software that workers-compensation doctors use to dispense medications in their office.

But that profitable practice could be undermined by a little-debated provision slipped into an under-the-radar Senate budget bill at the behest of the insurance lobby, which says that doctors who dispense in-house are driving up the workers-compensation costs.

The dispute is just one example of how the agendas of special-interests crop up with little discussion and tie up state lawmakers as they try to write the state budget.

The workers comp language doesn’t exist in the House, where the political committees run by House Speaker Dean Cannon and budget chief Denise Grimsley each received $10,000 from Automated Health Care Solutions just before the start of the lawmaking session, when fundraising is banned.

Why did the doctors contribute so much?

“Because I’m a nice person,” smiled Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who’s one of the most well-liked legislators in the Capitol. 

Zimmerman and Glass have given more than $1 million to the Republican Party of Florida, $615,000 to a committee once run by Haridopolos, $610,000 to two committees linked to Cannon, $295,000 to Scott’s political committee and $60,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.

More here


April 28, 2011

Mike Haridopolos' financial backer goes bust

Appliance Direct, the central Florida appliance chain whose subsidiary pays Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos $60,000 a year for consulting services, has filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection, Florida Today reports.

"Due largely to an unsuccessful expansion effort and the decrease in sales, debtor has had difficulty in servicing its trade debt or making demand payments to certain  creditors," according to the filings.

A subsidiary of Appliance Direct, Market Share Systems, since 2007 has paid Haridopolos $5,000 per month to advise Appliance Direct's founder, Sam Pak, on economic, business and political matters. The bankruptcy filings make no mention of Market Share or Haridopolos, a candidate for U.S. Senate..

The lobbyist represented Appliance Direct, Frank Tsamoutales, is one of Haridopolos' closest advisers and also a close friend and business partner of Sam Pak. More on that here

--Adam Smith