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September 23, 2016

Clinton tops Trump in Florida fundraising

via @learyreports

Hillary Clinton exceeded Donald Trump in fundraising from Florida by more than $800,000 in August, the latest FEC reports show.

Clinton raised about $2.2 million from Florida for the month, boosting her overall Sunshine State fundraising to $15.5 million.

Trump approached $1.4 million and has so far drawn $5.5 million.

Below, the breakdown by city.


MIAMI  > $1,554,612.43

MIAMI BEACH > $993,629.84

FT. LAUDERDALE > $697,773.86

Continue reading "Clinton tops Trump in Florida fundraising" »

DCCC fully backs Garcia, after opposing him in primary

001 Joe Garcia DS

National Democrats fully endorsed Joe Garcia's congressional bid Friday, adding the former congressman from Miami to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red-to-Blue" program.

The DCCC had opposed Garcia in the primary, backing Annette Taddeo instead. The party wasn't quick to switch gears, though it did put out a Spanish-language radio ad two weeks ago for Garcia and against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"Congressman Joe Garcia has spent his entire life in public service, working for his community and making sure everyone can achieve the American dream," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. "From fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act, to effectively working towards fixing our broken immigration system, Joe has always stood by these values."

The red-to-blue program is meant to highlight candidates in Republican-held districts most likely to flip to Democrats. With the designation comes additional fundraising support. Garcia has been on the program every time he ran for Congress as a challenger, in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Garcia was ousted by Curbelo two years ago after a single term in Congress, but the 26th congressional district now leans more Democratic after having been redrawn.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

Labor unions' new attack ad criticizes Marco Rubio's 'priorities'



Two liberal labor unions have teamed up to launch a new attack ad on Friday that criticizes Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's legislative "priorities" and casts him as out of touch with Floridians.

The ad from AFSCME People and AFT Solidarity accuses Rubio of favoring cuts to Social Security and Medicare and also says he "voted to slash school funding by billions of dollars and would eliminate the Department of Education."

MORE: "Fact-checking Democratic attacks on Marco Rubio's statements on Social Security and Medicare"

The 30-second spot will air in the Tampa and Orlando media markets through the end of the month, AFSCME PEOPLE said. AFCSME and AFT's political committees are jointly funding the $1.3 million ad buy. 

Both of the labor unions support Rubio's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

"Marco Rubio is more concerned with his chances to run for president in 2020 than to tackle the issues that Floridians care about as proven by his dismal record when he actually does show up for work," Shirin Bidel-Niyat, AFSCME’s assistant director of political action, said in a statement. "This ad reminds voters of something they want so badly to forget: Marco Rubio is only out for Marco Rubio, not for their families and their communities."

But Rubio's campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens fired back, saying "Patrick Murphy's liberal supporters are distorting Marco's positions, just like Murphy distorted his own résumé."

Ahrens reiterated a previous statement from the campaign, noting that Rubio's mother relies on Social Security and "Marco would never do anything to hurt his mother or the millions of Florida seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare."

"Marco also believes our children are best served by an education system that's run by Floridians at the state and local level, not by the federal government bureaucrats who bankroll Patrick Murphy's campaign and paid for this false attack ad," Ahrens added.

For AFSCME PEOPLE, the ad represents the second wave of $1.8 million the union plans to spend on TV ads in Florida's U.S. Senate race. The union's first ad -- a joint operation with the Senate Majority PAC -- also criticized Rubio over entitlement programs. PolitiFact rated the claims in that ad "Half True."

Here's the unions' ad:

Image credit: AFSCME PEOPLE / YouTube

*This post has been updated with comment from the Rubio campaign.

September 22, 2016

Trump reschedules Miami fundraiser for day after debate


A big-dollar fundraiser for Donald Trump that was called off earlier this week has been rescheduled -- for the day after the first presidential debate.

Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off Monday night in New York. Tuesday at lunchtime, he'all be in the Magic City, asking donors for contributions of $25,000 each. 

The luncheon was supposed to take place this past Tuesday, but it was pushed back after Trump's schedule took him back to New York following a rally Monday in Fort Myers. 

Trump's schedule doesn't yet show any public events in Florida on Tuesday.

Rubio blasts slumlords, but Democrats accuse him of not doing more sooner

On the same day U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was testifying before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about deplorable living conditions in government-subsidized housing he visited in three Florida cities, state Democrats were calling him out for not doing more to resolve the problem sooner and suggesting past campaign donations influenced him.

Early on Thursday, Rubio, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, testified that when they visited public housing properties owned by Global Ministries Foundation in Jacksonville, Orlando and Riviera Beach, they found crumbling staircases, exposed electrical wiring, damaged roofs and mold.

Both Rubio and Nelson blasted inspectors for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which gave the complexes passing grades when the conditions suggested otherwise.

“These slumlords caused the problems but HUD has enabled it,” Rubio said during the hearing on Thursday.

But state Democrats and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy’s campaign both circulated links to television stories from Jacksonville about how Rubio had accepted $72,100 in donations from previous owners of Eureka Gardens, the apartment complex in Jacksonville that was among the facilities Rubio criticized on Thursday.

First Coast News in Jacksonville reported that starting in 2009 Rubio, before he was elected to the Senate, began receiving donations from a Jacksonville real estate investor family that owned Eureka Gardens. The station reported Rubio and a political action committee he controls received $27,600 from the family, which sold the property in 2012. He received another $44,500 in 2014 from a Texas-based company with connections to the same family, the station reported.

Rubio first started digging into Eureka Gardens’ issues in October 2015, after receiving a letter from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. In May, Rubio visited Eureka Gardens and later pushed the Senate to hold the hearings that were held Thursday.

But Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele faulted Rubio for not doing more about the conditions when campaign donors of his were running the facility. Murphy’s campaign also jumped in, releasing a press release that had the subject line: “Marco Rubio stands by “slumlord” campaign donors in Jacksonville”

In an interview with First Coast News, Rubio said he wasn’t made aware of the problem until last October and would have jumped on it regardless of who the owners were and if they gave donations to him.

“it doesn't matter who is owning the property," Rubio told the station. "We would have been on it the same way we are on now.”

Rubio’s campaign slammed Murphy’s campaign for circulating the story, saying it was an attempt to distract voters from the fact that Rubio is getting things done while Murphy is not.

“Patrick Murphy’s campaign is getting desperate,” spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said.

Miami, SEC reach tentative settlement following securities fraud verdict


The Securities and Exchange Commission has reached a tentative settlement with the city of Miami after winning an unprecedented civil securities fraud trial against the city earlier this month.

The details of the agreement aren't disclosed. But attorneys for the SEC and the city notified Judge Cecilia Altonaga Thursday that they have a possible agreement in place after a federal jury found Miami officials played shell games with their finances in the late 2000s and misled bond investors.

Miami commissioners declined to settle with the SEC before the jury trial, which was the first ever between the SEC and a municipality. Several officials who spoke with the Miami Herald say the non-starter in those discussions was a requirement that the city admit to having committed fraud.

"At the time they wanted money. But I think [Mendez's] decision to go to trial was that based on the first offer, you write a letter and you admit to fraud," said Mayor Tomas Regalado. "I think that was the tipping point."

The settlement is expected to include financial penalties, after administrators said this week that they're preparing to include payments to the SEC in the current year's budget. Co-defendant Michael Boudreaux has no objections, according to court documents.

Commissioners may vote on the settlement Oct. 13.

Tim Canova launches PAC




Tim Canova, who lost his primary race to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has launched a political action committee to support candidates and weigh in on ballot amendments including about medical marijuana in Florida this fall.

Canova will chair Progress for All, a federal and state political committee that can contribute to federal, state and local candidates.

According to a press release, Progress for All will support: candidates who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and support campaign finance reform, support action to address climate change and a ban on fracking, want an end to subsidies for oil/gas industry, support solar power and support ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

The committee supports the medical marijuana amendment and opposes the solar amendment that is backed by the industry and opposed by environmentalists. Both questions will appear on the Florida ballot Nov. 8.

Canova, a first-time candidate from Hollywood, raised about $3.8 million in the primary. Wasserman Schultz beat Canova by about 14 percentage points in the Broward/Miami-Dade district. He is on leave this semester from his job as a Nova Southeastern University law professor.

He ran a Bernie Sanders-style campaign that focused on soliciting small, online donations and his campaign got a major boost when Sanders endorsed him. But in the end, Canova appeared frustrated that Sanders didn't campaign for him in South Florida. 

Canova said in his press release that he will limit donations to small donors and reject any from corporate-funded PACS and then takes a swipe at Sanders: "This fundraising plan for Progress for All is in contrast to Our Revolution, started by Bernie Sanders, which was organized as a 501(c)(4) that could accept large undisclosed donations."

Earlier this month Canova opened a campaign account which could allow him to challenge Wasserman Schultz again in 2018. Canova said he hasn't decided yet whether he will run for the same seat in two years.

"I'm still kind of recovering from the campaign -- it was nine months of 24-7 nonstop," he said. "It's premaure to be deciding if I am running for office and when."




More mental health, campus security funding again a priority for Florida universities



After the Florida Legislature failed to act on similar budget requests for this year, state university officials are once again asking for money to increase staffing levels and beef up resources for campus police forces and student counseling centers at Florida’s 12 public universities.

The public university system’s Board of Governors wants lawmakers to designate an extra $28.5 million for those efforts, $8 million more than the unfulfilled request they’d made for the current 2016-17 budget year.

But rather than asking for all the money at once, as they did for this year, officials plan to ask the Legislature to spread the dollars over two years — giving the universities time to hire more qualified police officers and counselors.

While meeting in Sarasota this week, the Board of Governors emphasized that additional dollars for mental health services and campus security is among their foremost priorities for the 2017-18 budget, which lawmakers will craft next spring.

Data show Florida’s university police forces and campus counseling centers are understaffed, officials have been saying for more than a year now.

More here.

Image credit: The Florida Channel

How Donald Trump bought a chunk of the Sunshine State and became a Florida man

via @laforgia_

Donald J. Trump has a story he liked to tell early in his campaign to win Florida.

The first time he told it, he had 144 days to go before the Florida primary. He was in front of hundreds of people at a rally at Trump National Doral, which was fitting because the story is all about how he bought the South Florida golf resort in the summer of 2012.

The story goes that he and his daughter Ivanka walked into closing with a contract to buy Doral for $170 million. But when it came time to do the deal, Trump told the crowd, he got the sudden urge to show off.

There he was, Trump said, staring across the bargaining table at the other dealmakers, who all were beautiful men, “like from a movie, better looking than Tom Cruise,” and who were wearing red suspenders and had gone to the best schools. And what did Trump do? He started ranting like a lunatic about the terrible shape the property was in.

Within about two minutes, Trump told the crowd, the movie stars in red suspenders took $20 million off the price tag. He got the place for just $150 million. And then he tore it down and built it up again.

This is what he wants to do with America, he said. Acquire it, gut it to the steel and remake it in his own image.

It didn’t matter that the story Trump told was exaggerated. That Ivanka was said to have worked out most of the deal by herself. That people on the other side of the deal believed Trump had overpaid for the property by as much as $60 million — even at the lowered sale price — and were giddy at landing such an unexpected windfall. That contractors Trump hired to make the resort great again were filing liens against him because he hadn’t paid them for their work. That rooms in the redone hotel could be booked, same-day, on for $160, which was $9 cheaper than rooms at the nearby Courtyard Miami and $109 cheaper than the Marriott Vacation Club just a few blocks away.

None of that mattered to the crowd at Doral on Oct. 23, 2015. What mattered was the image being put in front of them.

More here.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott directs $25M toward Zika vaccine research


In an unusual move, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday he'll use his emergency powers to direct $25 million from the state for Zika research.

The Florida Department of Health will dole out the money through a competitive grant for speeding up the development of a Zika vaccine and "innovative, cost-effective" methods to test for the virus.

Scott has traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge congressional action and routinely called out the federal government on cable news for failing to pass a Zika funding bill. On Thursday, he did the same.

"Every minute that passes that Congress doesn’t approve funding means more time is lost from researching this virus," Scott said in a statement. "For the sake of our state’s future children, this is time we cannot afford to waste."

The first cases of Zika spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States began this July in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

To date, there have been 874 Florida cases of the virus, which is linked to birth defects, according to the Florida Department of Health. While most of those cases are connected to travel abroad, 92 have been linked to local infections spreading, most notably in Miami Beach and Wynwood, though additional locally-spread cases were found in Pinellas, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

As governor, Scott can allocate funds in emergencies without the Legislature's approval. In February, he declared a public health emergency to address the burgeoning threat Zika posed.

In July, Scott expanded the emergency declaration to authorize $26.2 million in spending for mosquito control, testing pregnant women and preventing Zika's spread. Last week, he announced another $10 million for that cause.