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May 09, 2015

Jeb Bush courts evangelical Christians in faith speech

via @lesleyclark

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Looking to win over skeptical evangelical voters, Jeb Bush pushed back Saturday against what he said are modern intrusions on religion as he lauded graduates and their families at Liberty University, a Christian college popular on the path to the Republican presidential nomination.

“Fashionable ideas and opinions — which these days can be a religion all by itself — have got a problem with Christians and their right of conscience,” Bush told an audience of 34,000 in the school’s football stadium.

“That makes it our problem, and the proper response is a forthright defense of the first freedom in our Constitution.”

Some evangelicals view Bush warily, questioning whether the former Florida governor and likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination would provide a suitable bulwark against gay marriage, illegal immigration and other issues key to conservatives.

Bush did not mention gay marriage, but got some of his loudest applause when he said “wherever there is a child waiting to be born, we say choose life, and we say it with love.”

And the convert to Catholicism pledged that he would not apologize for allowing faith to influence his decision making.

“The simple and safe reply is, `No. Never. Of course not,' “ Bush said. “If the game is political correctness, that’s the answer that moves you to the next round.”

More here.

NYT: Norman Braman funded Marco Rubio's FIU gig

via @learyreports

The New York Times takes a look at Marco Rubio’s relationship with Norman Braman, the Miami billionaire who has vowed to plow millions into a Super PAC. One nugget stands out:

When Mr. Rubio left state government, determined to shore up his finances before running for the United States Senate, he landed a teaching job at Florida International University, agreeing to raise much of his salary through private donations.

Mr. Braman gave $100,000, according to records he shared with The New York Times. Dario Moreno, who oversaw the university center where Mr. Rubio worked and who taught classes with him, confirmed that Mr. Rubio had raised the money from Mr. Braman.

Rubio got the FIU job, which was never advertises, after leaving the state House due to term limits in 2008. His hiring was controversial at the time. Moreno refused to identify the money Rubio raised when the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald wrote about the controversy.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

May 08, 2015

First attack ad lands in Miami Beach commission race

via @joeflech

Miami Beach politics are heating up early this campaign season. With three seats up for grabs and 10 candidates having declared their candidacy for the November election, the race for Ed Tobin's spot on the dais has seen its first attack ad.

The ad takes aim at Ricky Arriola, chief executive officer of Inktel Holdings and immediate past chair of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Trust Board. Inktel, an outsourcer of business and direct marketing services, has a contract with Miami Beach to handle customer service calls for its building, transportation and other departments.

Inktel has had a contract with the city since 2009 for call center services for the Beach's building department, with a separate three-year contract being approved in Spring 2013. The two agreements were rolled into one for a total of about a $200,000-a-year deal.

The ad points out that Inktel was not the first-ranked firm in a public solicitation when the contract was first awarded in 2009. This is true, and the record of that late-night discussion on the dais (Beach meetings used to go late into the night) shows a motion from Commissioner Jonah Wolfson to choose Inktel because they are headquartered locally. The first-ranked firm was based out of state and had a location in Miami.

Arriola told the Miami Herald this week that he does not have a conflict right now since he hasn't been elected, and if he were, he would take care of any threat of a conflict of interest. He did not specify how and said he would address it directly with voters during the campaign.

Continue reading "First attack ad lands in Miami Beach commission race" »

Gov. Rick Scott asks hospitals to consider profit sharing

Gov. Rick Scott is pitching a new idea to help Florida hospitals handle the potential loss of federal funds: profit sharing.

"This would be similar to how large market baseball teams share revenues with small market baseball teams," the Republican governor wrote in a Friday letter to hospital executives. "With the hospital industry's record-high profits, it does not make sense for the hospital industry to ask state taxpayers to back fill funding the Obama Administration has elected to terminate."

A spokeswoman for the Florida Hospital Association said her organization was still reviewing the letter.

Jackson Health System in Miami had not yet done so late Friday.

Scott's suggestion comes as lawmakers are struggling to build the state health care budget.

Federal health officials have said they will not renew a $2.2 billion federal-state program that reimburses Florida hospitals for charity care. The state proposed a successor to the so-called Low Income Pool, but has yet to hear back from the feds.

In his Friday letter, Scott suggested that the federal government was unlikely to continue the funding, and said state lawmakers should "begin preparing a state budget without any LIP funds from the federal government."

Continue reading "Gov. Rick Scott asks hospitals to consider profit sharing" »

Jeb Bush's planned commencement speech will hit Obama on religious freedom

via @lesleyclark

LYNCHBURG, VA — Jeb Bush will deliver the commencement address Saturday at Liberty University, criticizing the Obama administration for being “small minded and intolerant” of religious freedom.

The address comes as the presumed presidential contender seeks to boost up his standing among conservatives and religious evangelicals and excerpts released ahead of the speech by his campaign committee show he will deliver a defense of religion, saying that “whatever the need, the affliction, or the injustice, there is no more powerful or liberating influence on this earth than the Christian conscience in action.”

He will tout Christian charity at the school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, saying that “every day in the life of this nation, uncounted people are comforting the lonely, aiding the ill and discouraged, serving the weak and innocent, giving hope to the prisoner, and in every way they know, loving mercy and living with integrity.”

The former Florida governor who converted to Catholicism, also proclaimed he is pro-life in the excerpts, noting that “wherever there is a child waiting to be born, we say choose life, and we say it with love.”

His remarks are also critical of the Obama administration, accusing it of “supporting the use of coercive federal power. What should be easy calls, in favor of religious freedom, have instead become an aggressive stance against it.”

Continue reading "Jeb Bush's planned commencement speech will hit Obama on religious freedom" »

Rick Perry to travel to Florida next week


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's flirting with making another White House run in 2016, has scheduled three Florida events next week. None are in South Florida. Perry ran in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

According to his political action committee, Perry will attend the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee Dinner in Fort Walton Beach on Tuesday, a "cocktails and conversation" event hosted by the Collier County Republican Executive Committee in Naples on Wednesday, and a St. John's County "public forum" in St. Augustine on Thursday.

Nineteen Republicans are running or thinking of running for president next year.

Gov. Rick Scott signs executive order to reform Florida prisons

From Gov. Rick Scott's office:

Governor Rick Scott today signed Executive Order 15-102 which makes significant reforms in Florida’s prison system to improve safety, transparency and accountability. The measures included in Executive Order 15-102 were recommended by Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones and various stakeholders. Many of the included reforms are currently being implemented by the FDOC to increase safety.

Governor Scott said, “The steps outlined in today’s executive order present a clear path forward for the Florida Department of Corrections. The Department’s number one focus is the safety of Florida’s correctional officers, communities and the inmates in state custody and supervision. I would like to thank Secretary Jones for advancing the Department’s mission by increasing transparency and accountability in all Florida correctional institutions.” 

“The Florida Department of Corrections is committed to progress and reform through data-driven initiatives and actions,” said Secretary Julie Jones. “Looking forward, it is critically important that this Department continues in our efforts to be accountable to the people of Florida, our employees and the hundreds of thousands of inmates and offenders under our custody and supervision.”

Read the governor's four-page executive order here.

Miami Democrats, Jackson hospital workers rally for Medicaid expansion

via @dchangmiami

Democratic state representatives and Jackson Health System nurses and doctors on Friday called for Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott and House leaders, to expand Medicaid healthcare coverage for more low-income Floridians and also preserve a federal program that funds hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured patients.

The rally — hosted by Jackson’s labor union for doctors and nurses, SEIU 1991, in front of the state’s busiest public hospital, Jackson Memorial — drew several hundred hospital employees and at least three House Democrats who support a plan approved by the Republican-controlled Florida Senate but rejected by House leaders.

The plan would expand Florida’s restrictive eligibility criteria for Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled, and renew a hospital funding program called the Low-Income Pool, or LIP, that provides about $1.3 billion for hospitals but is set to expire on June 30.

The healthcare issue is at the center of a stalemate between the two chambers that led House leaders to abruptly end the legislative session without adopting a budget — the one job they are constitutionally required to complete.

More here.

Has there only been one bank formed since Dodd-Frank as Jeb Bush says?

At an appearance in Concord in mid-April, former Florida governor Jeb Bush talked banking -- and the legislation meant to reform it.

"On my last trip to New Hampshire I think I met the guy who founded the first and only bank since Dodd-Frank passed, since the financial crisis," Bush said at hisspeech at Saint Anselm College’s Politics and Eggs event April 17. "One bank in the country."

The banking reform legislation known as Dodd-Frank became law on July 21, 2010, nearly five years ago. We decided to look into Bush’s statement that only one bank had been founded since that time.

We checked with Bush’s camp and according to spokesman Matt Gorman, Bush met with businessman Bill Grenier when he was in the state March 14. Greiner, of Bedford, filed last year with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to charter an entirely new bank named Primary Bank.

"We’re going against the grain, and we’re okay with that because we see a need," he told the Wall Street Journal in December.

So would Primary Bank be the nation’s "first and only" since Dodd-Frank? Not exactly. Depending on the data set you choose, it’s either the second, fourth, ninth or 20th.

The Journal  and other media sources have said the first bank founded after the law’s passage is in fact the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, Pa. It mainly serves the area’s Amish community. And yes, it includes a drive-through window for horse-and-buggy.

Turn to Clay Wirestone's fact-check from PolitiFact New Hampshire and see Bush's full Truth-O-Meter record.

Kansas, Texas say Florida lawsuit is 'more than an isolated dispute'

For those of you following Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lawsuit against the Obama Administration, here's a copy of the amicus brief filed by Texas and Kansas.

The two states announced their plans to join the suit earlier this week.

The opening line of their brief: "This lawsuit is more than an isolated dispute between Florida and a federal agency."

Download Amicus