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September 20, 2016

Clinton seeks support from young African Americans with Florida radio ad

@PatriciaMazzei

Hillary Clinton's campaign released a new Florida radio ad Tuesday, aimed at getting young African Americans to vote.

"No candidate in any election is perfect, but the choice is easy this time," the spot says, before referring dismissively to Donald Trump. "This guy Trump disrespects Obama, insults communities of color and wants to turn back the clock."

The campaign already put out an ad about historically black colleges and universities, and President Obama himself called into a local R&B station last week.

The new ad, titled "Real Talk," is slated to also air in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the campaign said.

Florida GOP mails tailored campaign fliers for Rubio

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@PatriciaMazzei

In English, Marco Rubio fought against Common Core and for lower taxes. In Spanish, he protected Social Security and Medicare.

These are the messages the Republican Party of Florida wants voters to hear ahead of the Nov. 8 election in which Rubio faces a challenge from Democrat Patrick Murphy.

The party has been mailing fliers to South Florida voters, tailoring them to their language, age and ethnicity.

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New Murphy ad calls Rubio 'reckless on choice'

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@ByKristenMClark

Hot off announcing an endorsement from Planned Parenthood earlier today, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a new TV ad this afternoon that highlights his and Marco Rubio's contrasting viewpoints on abortion.

Murphy's ad slams the incumbent Republican U.S. senator for being "reckless on choice."

The 30-second spot highlights Murphy's new endorsement from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and mentions he is "100 percent pro-choice," while Rubio specifically opposes exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape, incest or for pregnant women infected with the Zika virus.

Murphy's campaign says the ad will run statewide as part of a "seven-figure" buy.

"Marco Rubio is reckless on a woman's right to choose, radical in his attacks on women’s health funding, and irresponsible in his anti-woman rhetoric," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "Florida women deserve a senator who will stand up for their right to make their down health care decisions."

In response to Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Murphy today, Rubio's campaign said in an earlier statement that Murphy was "leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up," because his campaign "is floundering."

As for Murphy's new ad, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, "Patrick Murphy is distorting Marco's record like he distorted his own resume."

"Not only does Murphy support using taxpayer money to fund abortions, he also supports late-term abortions. Murphy's extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians," Perez-Cubas said.

Here's Murphy's new ad:

Image credit: Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign / YouTube

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

Will the governor and Cabinet hold FDLE accountable for investigating inmate deaths?

Prison deathsSix years after 27-year-old prison inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo died at Franklin Correctional Institution  after being gassed by corrections officers, an investigation has still not been complete and witnesses to the incident, who allege he was tortured and beaten by corrections officers, have still not been interviewed, according to a 33-page federal civil rights lawsuit filed Monday.

On Tuesday, the head of the agency charged with investigating the state's role in the death, Rick Swearingen, faces his six-month performance review before the governor and Cabinet today. The governor and Cabinet jointly are responsible for oversight of FDLE.

On Monday, the Herald/Times asked if the governor and Cabinet believed FDLE was sufficiently following up  on the abuse-related deaths at the Department of Corrections, as the agency had told legislators it would do. For the past three years, the Miami Herald has chronicled or revealed details about many of the deaths.

The question was not about the pending investigation but how the governor and members of the Cabinet is holding FDLE accountable regarding its performance about an inmate death nearly six years ago and other deaths the agency is charged with reviewing. 

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater responded. No one chose to answer the question, or explain why they didn't want to answer it. We did not receive a response from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Here is what we asked:

"We are writing today about a federal lawsuit being filed in connection with the death of inmate Randall Jordan Aparo in 2010. We understand the investigation was re-opened by FDLE, however, many of the witnesses in the case and others have not been interviewed, according to the lawsuit. 

"As you prepare the performance review of FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen on Tuesday, could the governor provide us with an answer to this question:

"Have you have been assured that Commissioner Swearingen and his staff are sufficiently following up on the abuse-related deaths at the Department of Corrections? If you are confident these investigations are underway, please explain how you reached that conclusion."

Here's how the governor's office answered the question at 9:47 p.m.

"Commissioner Swearingen has done a great job in his leadership role at FDLE. We look forward to his performance review tomorrow,'' said Lauren Schenone, the governor's press secretary. "Florida is now at a 45-year crime low because of the hard work of Florida’s law enforcement officers, and Commissioner Swearingen has dedicated his career to making sure Florida is the safest state in the nation.”

Here is how the office of CFO Atwater responded: "Our office has not had specific conversations about inmate investigations," said Ashley Carr, spokeswoman for Atwater.

Here is how Bondi's office responded: "It would not be appropriate to comment on a pending investigation,'' said Kylie Mason, Bondi press secretary. "Furthermore, any discussion relating to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen's performance review must be addressed in the open at the public Cabinet meeting."

Manny Diaz Jr. running TV ads for re-election to Florida House

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@ByKristenMClark

School-choice proponent and influential incumbent Hialeah state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is running English- and Spanish-language ads on Miami-area TV to promote his re-election bid for state House District 103.

Highlighting his work on education policy, the Republican spent more than $87,000 on TV ad buys in late August and early September, according to his most recent campaign finance disclosure to the state.

"Improving our education system and creating new jobs are my priorities. I'm working to make Florida better for my family and yours," Diaz said in a statement.

Diaz, who's seeking a third and final term in the Florida House, is a prime target for Democrats this fall. Democrat Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich is challenging him in November.

Democrats want to unseat Diaz because doing so would prevent him from having even further influence on school choice policies, which Democrats say undercut traditional public schools.

Diaz was the House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee chairman in the 2016 session and is on track to be either House education policy chairman or education budget chairman, if he's re-elected.

Gonzalez Petkovich hasn't bought TV ad time yet, according to her available campaign finance records.

District 103 includes Miramar, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley and part of Doral.

Image credit: Manny Diaz Jr. for State Representative / Facebook

Rubio to join Pence at GOP dinner in Tampa

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida announced Tuesday that Marco Rubio will speak at a dinner next month in Tampa. Rubio is the second big name on the program, after vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

RPOF's "victory dinner" will take place Oct. 15.

Rubio, who is running for reelection to the U.S. Senate, has not campaigned with Pence or Donald Trump.

Kimmel blooper video features outtakes from Bush Emmy appearance

@PatriciaMazzei

So successful was Jimmy Kimmel's opening video to the Emmy Awards Sunday night that on Monday he released a blooper reel -- which he titled "boners and boo boos" -- featuring the TV stars who participated, and Jeb Bush.

In one outtake, presidential-candidate-turned-limo-driver Bush called Kimmel a "godless, shameless, stinking hippie" -- instead of the final line, "godless Hollywood hippie."

"He was great," Kimmel told the audience of "Jimmy Kimmel Live." "Very high-energy, by the way."

 

Donald Trump an environmental hero? "You've got to be kidding me."

@doug_hanks

When Donald Trump offered to spend $10 million revamping the county golf course in Crandon Park, his top negotiator made one thing perfectly clear: the 20-foot trees along the shoreline had grown much too tall for the mogul’s tastes.

“If he can’t get the 450 yards of mangroves reduced to 4 feet high so the Miami Skyline can be seen along Number 18,” parks chief Jack Kardys wrote to staff in March 2014, “there will be no deal.”

More than two years later, Trump’s failed bid for Crandon is being lauded in a book by his top negotiator, Edward Russo. The title: “Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero.”

In the self-published book, Russo argues the GOP nominee takes a practical, selfless approach to environmental conservation through his development deals. For Crandon, that included a plan to irrigate the course with reused wastewater from a nearby plant, reduce chemical runoff into the adjoining Biscayne Bay, and efforts to make Crandon safer for birds.

“There were serious environmental problems at Crandon,” Russo wrote. “[T]he entire archipelago was part of a migratory bird superhighway. Special care was not given to habitats or food sources.”

As for the mangroves, Russo said Trump was right to want to let some breeze in through permitted trimming.

“An environmental hero would look at those mangroves and improve their quality,” Russo said Monday. “And improve the quality of life in and around there right now.”

Critics scoff at Trump as a climate-change denier who has declared windmills too ugly to be within sight of his golf resorts. Among them is Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, who said in a statement: “The bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst candidate for the environment ever nominated by a major political party in the history of our country.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, a Democrat, said when told of the book.

Read the story here.

Patrick Murphy attacks Marco Rubio in announcing Planned Parenthood's support

Murphy primary nite 3 - richard graulich pbp

@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has the official support of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and he's using that backing to renew attacks on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on abortion and the Zika virus.

The inclusion of Zika funding for Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Puerto Rico has been a partisan sticking point that's prevented Congress from passing a $1.9 billion funding package that President Obama requested months ago.

It's not unexpected that Planned Parenthood's political arm chose to endorse Murphy over Rubio in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race. Rubio is pro-life, while Murphy advocates for women's choice on abortion.

Murphy said he was "incredibly humbled" by the endorsement, announced Tuesday.

"This is an organization that provides vital health care to millions of women across this country," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "While Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to choose, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and has exploited the Zika virus to attack women’s health, I will be a senator who stands with Planned Parenthood to fight for Florida families."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards also criticized Rubio while praising Murphy.

"Murphy has been a fighter for Florida women, pushing for smart policies to ensure access to affordable birth control and safe, legal abortion," Richards said in a statement provided by Murphy's campaign. "Patrick sees the importance of access to reproductive health providers, like Planned Parenthood, to keep Florida women healthy. Rubio’s multiple attacks aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting health care access in Florida, forcing women to pay more for birth control and eliminating access to safe, legal abortion, would all have devastating effects on Florida women and families."

In response to the criticism from Murphy and Planned Parenthood officials, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said: "Patrick Murphy's campaign is floundering, so he's leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up."

"Voters have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," Perez-Cubas added.

Planned Parenthood's is one of several endorsements Murphy has announced since the Aug. 30 primary election. He's continuing a strategy he employed during the primary, in which he touted endorsements from a wide array of Democratic establishment supporters to propel his campaign against his party competitors. It's unclear whether that's having a similar impact during the general election contest against Rubio.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/ The Palm Beach Post

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

Bondi breaks silence, does not regret taking Trump's $25,000

@MichaelAuslen and @stevebousquet

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday morning broke her silence on the political mess surrounding her office and a $25,000 political contribution she accepted from Donald Trump for her 2014 re-election bid.

Bondi appeared on the defensive as she confronted reporters in her first public appearance since the Trump story made national headlines two weeks ago. Her comments came at a last-minute press conference that turned testy with reporters digging in on questions about whether she is fit to do the job of the state's top legal officer. 

She said she wishes she had come out in front of the check allegations early on but says she has no regrets about taking the money because there was “no investigation” in her office over the Trump University complaints.

Asked if her credibility is “shot” with voters, Bondi said, “I hope not” and rejected talk of resignation.

Bondi defended her office, saying she has received about 800,000 calls from consumers and said that a review by one of her lawyers of a 2011 complaint against Trump University was appropriate. 

While internal emails show that high-level Bondi staffers including her chief of staff knew about the complaints against Trump  before she requested his donation in September 2013, she insisted that she "had no idea" until reporting by the Orlando Sentinel that October. 

She also shined a light on some unknown parts of her relationship with Trump, who says Bondi is a good friend. 

Bondi said they met well before she was attorney general, "probably" at the time that she was a regular on Fox News.