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July 14, 2016

The time Govs. Rick Scott and Mike Pence crossed paths in Broward

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence crossed paths in Fort Lauderdale earlier this year at an event that also featured Bill Scherer, a lawyer and lobbyist who has been a prominent figure in Republican circles for a long time -- and who's a native of Indiana. Photos from the Feb. 5 event indicate they were at the Tripp Scott law firm, whose partners include former Senate President Jim Scott and Ed Pozzuoli, a former Broward County GOP chairman who's a delegate to next week's convention.

Speculation is mounting that Pence will be Donald Trump's choice for running mate -- especially after Pence's name was not listed among the speakers at next week's convention in Cleveland.

Take a look here from the Conrad Scherer firm's web site, and Tripp Scott's site includes a Pozzuoli interview with Pence.

Marco Rubio to give video address at GOP convention


Marco Rubio won't physically be at next week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But he'll address the gathering via video, organizers announced Thursday.

It'll be a message, not a live speech via satellite.

Later in the day, the RNC plans to release a more complete list of its video program. The first two names revealed were Rubio and retired basketball coach Bobby Knight.

Rubio has said he's staying in Florida to campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. His absence, though, was viewed by some Republicans as a less-than-full-throated endorsement of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Rubio's primary rival, Carlos Beruff, will be in Cleveland. His campaign quickly accused Rubio agreeing to speak to delegates only after finding out Beruff would go -- and after a new poll showed Trump narrowly leading presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida.

"Looks like he’s going to phone it in just like he’s phoned it in as a Senator," Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline said in an email to the Miami Herald. "Figuring out where Marco stands on Trump is like nailing Jello to a wall, which is fitting, since Jello is approximately the consistency of Marco's backbone."

Several other former Trump rivals -- Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker -- will speak at the convention in person. Conspicuously absent: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose state is hosting the event.

The most high-profile Florida politicians scheduled to appear on stage are Attorney General Pam Bondi -- in prime time -- and Gov. Rick Scott.

Florida Congressional Democrats push Paul Ryan for action on Zika funding

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Democratic members of the Florida Congressional delegation sent a letter urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to act on Zika.

Partisan gridlock remains over Zika funding while the House is poised to recess Friday. In the Senate, Marco Rubio has joined Bill Nelson and the Democrats in calling for $1.9 billion in federal funding.

From the Florida House Democrats' letter:

"Florida Democrats stood united in demanding Speaker Paul Ryan act on the Zika virus before the Congressional recess. This is a serious public health crisis, which House Republicans have shamefully responded to with endless delays and refusals to provide the funding our public health experts have said we need to properly tackle Zika.  The number of Floridians with Zika is growing by the day. It is unconscionable for House Republicans to send Members home for seven weeks without passing legislation that would meaningfully address this deadly disease. This crisis falls squarely at their feet, and the House of Representatives should not recess until we do the job we were elected to do and help keep the American people healthy and safe.”

The letter was signed by Florida Democrats in the House: Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch, Patrick Murphy, Frederica Wilson, Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson, Gwen Graham and Kathy Castor.

The infamous elections history of Daphne Campbell's campaign manager


Nacivre CharlesThe man managing Democratic state Rep. Daphne Campbell's state Senate campaign is well known in Miami political circles -- but not for a good reason.

Nacivre Charles is three months removed from serving probation for campaign violations related to illegal expenditures. Charles pleaded no contest last June to charges of authorizing illegal campaign expenditures when he ran the 2013 campaign of former North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau.

According to the arrest warrant, Charles approved $12,000 in withdrawals from Tondreau's campaign account days after she won her runoff election in 2013. That's well above the $500 limit.

Read more here: The infamous elections history of Daphne Campbell's campaign manager


QB Tim Tebow became a real Republican in the nick of time

Tim Tebow was a crowd favorite as a Florida Gator, and he's sure to electrify the crowd at Donald Trump's Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week.

The Heisman-winning QB from Jacksonville was among the surprise names on a list of speakers released Thursday by the convention CEO, Jeff Larson.

As it turns out, Tebow became a registered Republican in Florida just in the nick of time, avoiding the state's unpopular closed primary system as he eluded so many would-be tacklers at The Swamp.

Tebow, a 28-year-old native of Ponte Vedra Beach, now lives in Jacksonville. He was one of the many unaffiliated Florida voters registered as NPA, or no party affiliation, since 2013. But according to voting records, he re-registered Republican on Feb. 16 of this year. That was the last day a voter could change parties to be eligible to vote in Florida's closed presidential preference primary.

The Washington Post recently reported that a Trump charity, not the wealthy businessman himself, paid $12,000 at a fund-raising event in Palm Beach in 2012 for a signed Tebow jersey and helmet that he wore when he was with the Denver Broncos.

Pam Bondi gets prime-time speaking slot at GOP convention

via @stevebousquet

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose ties to Donald Trump have been a source of controversy, will have a prime-time speaking appearance at next week’s Republican National Convention.

Bondi is scheduled to give a five-minute address at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on the subject of law enforcement.

Gov. Rick Scott is also expected to speak, as well as former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.

The exposure on all three major cable networks offers an opening for Bondi’s critics to launch a new wave of attacks over her connections to Trump.

As the state’s chief legal officer, Bondi is the target of ethics complaints over her solicitation of a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump in 2013. At that time, her office said, two complaints were on file against Trump University, a for-profit real estate school that’s the subject of hundreds of complaints and nationwide class action lawsuits in California and New York.

Bondi decided not to open an investigation of Trump University and urged complaints be filed with New York, which had already launched a probe of the school.

“No one in my office ever opened an investigation on Trump University nor was there a basis for doing so,” Bondi said last month. “I have spent my career prosecuting criminals and protecting Floridians.”

More here.

Carrie Meek's daughter, a county administrator, part of group pursuing $5 million county subsidy


A top Miami-Dade administrator is helping run a company close to securing about 120 acres at the county’s Opa-locka airport — and a $5 million county subsidy — under a foundation created by her famous mother: former congresswoman Carrie Meek.

Lucia Davis-Raiford, who earns about $197,000 as Miami-Dade’s social-services director, serves on the board of a for-profit company that the Carrie Meek Foundation recently formed to jump-start an Opa-locka commercial project that’s been stalled since 2008. That’s when county commissioners approved the Meek Foundation’s lease of the 120 acres at the airport in order to create an economic-development center and commercial complex to provide jobs for the working-class neighborhood.

Eight years later, the foundation’s new for-profit arm is set to partner with a commercial developer to build an undisclosed project on the public land and use county funds to subsidize some development costs.

Raiford-Davis briefly attended Wednesday’s negotiations between the foundation and the county’s economic-development officials, but did not speak and left minutes after arriving. The negotiations are public, and a reporter was already seated in the County Hall conference room when Davis-Raiford entered and took a chair by the wall.

Asked outside why she was there, Davis-Raiford said she was “curious.” Asked if she had a financial interest in the foundation’s new for-profit company, CPM Community First, Davis-Raiford said she was on her way to another meeting. “I’m not prepared to do an interview,” she said.
Read the story here

Miami parents of Orlando shooting victim thank Nelson, Curbelo for gun-control support


Tuesday marked the grim, one-month anniversary of the massacre at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. The parents of one of the victims, Jerry Wright, wrote that they planned to mark the night in Washington D.C., pushing for more gun control.

"In the wake of Jerry's murder, while we've been mourning, we've watched as our nation's elected leaders listened to the calls of their constituents to rise up and fight to change our nation's weak gun laws," Maria and Fred Wright of Miami wrote in an op-ed published by MSNBC. "Historic moments like a 15-hour filibuster by Sen. Chris Murphy and an overnight sit-in started by Congressman John Lewis did not go unnoticed."

The Wrights publicly thanked two Florida politicians -- Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- for backing tighter gun laws. They said they planned to ask Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has generally opposed restrictions to gun ownership, to change his mind.

"We decided to spend this very sad anniversary urging our elected leaders in Congress to pass common-sense laws that will keep guns out of dangerous hands," the couple wrote. "We decided to thank leaders like Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Carlos Curbelo for standing up for public safety. We’ll ask Senator Marco Rubio —  who as fellow Republicans, we have supported in the past — to stand with our family and put the safety of Floridians ahead of the extremist gun lobby."

Read the full op-ed here.

Quinnipiac poll: Rubio's lead has widened since entering Senate race


Marco Rubio’s lead over his Democratic rivals has grown into the double digits since hedecided to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll that shows — for now — the Republican incumbent isn't being dragged down in Florida by presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows Rubio widening his advantage in potential head-to-head match-ups against Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. Rubio is ahead of Murphy by 13 points (50-37 percent) and of Grayson by 12 points (50-38 percent).

Last month, when Rubio still hadn’t made up his mind about running, he led Murphy by 7 points (47-40 percent) and Grayson by 8 points (48-40 percent).

Murphy, who has the high-profile backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other national Democrats, had a particularly difficult end of June. He was hit with a serious of news reports indicating he had repeatedly inflated his résumé.

“Democrats made fun of Sen. Marco Rubio when he opted for a last-minute re-election bid in Florida, but he may be on the way to a last laugh, having quickly opened double digit leads over both Democratic challengers,” Peter A. Brown, the poll's director, said in a statement.

The poll didn’t measure Rubio’s popularity against his sole GOP primary rival, Carlos Beruff, who would lose to Murphy by 40-34 percent and be tied with Grayson at 38 percent.

Polls generally tighten in a general election, and Senate races may be affected by the presidential contest at the top of the ticket. The Florida primary is Aug. 30.

More here.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, attack dog for Marco Rubio


Marco Rubio won't respond to Republican Senate primary rival Carlos Beruff's attacks. But Carlos Lopez-Cantera will.

The lieutenant governor, who dropped out of the Senate race to make way for his longtime friend Rubio to seek re-election, issued a statement Wednesday on behalf of Rubio's campaign after Beruff released a new TV ad accusing Rubio of not being fully behind presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"His record is clear, just like his good friend Charlie Crist, Carlos Beruff continues to flip-flop to try to be everything to everyone," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement. "He's a Crist insider who values political opportunity over Florida's conservative principles."

Rubio's campaign has consistently noted Beruff's ties to Crist, the former governor Rubio defeated in the 2010 Senate race. Beruff maxed out as a Crist donor while Crist was a Republican. Beruff's camp likes to note Beruff never gave Crist money after he became an independent. Rubio's camp likes to note Beruff later nevertheless attended a fundraiser for independent Crist. (Crist is now a Democrat running for Congress in St. Petersburg.)

It's not the first time Lopez-Cantera has jabbed Beruff since leaving the race. Last month he called him a "man driven by ego."

Making matters a little awkward is that Beruff is allies with Gov. Rick Scott -- the man who recruited Lopez-Cantera as his 2014 running mate. Scott didn't endorse Lopez-Cantera while the LG was in the race and has continued to stay out of the contest now that Rubio is back in -- an unusual political situation for a sitting senator.