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July 22, 2016

Miami mayor has cameo appearance on HBO's 'Ballers'

via @ReneMiamiHerald

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado has had a long and storied career: He’s worked as a reporter, was a member of the White House Press Corps, served as city commissioner and was even a candidate for NASA’s Journalists in Space program.

But Regalado, 69, is still up for trying new things. On Sunday, he made his Hollywood debut on the second season premiere of HBO’s “Ballers,” which is shot in South Florida and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a retired NFL superstar who now works as a financial manager for professional football players.

At the start of the episode, Johnson is helping Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh open his new restaurant — Suh Casa — at a fancy VIP reception. While addressing the crowd, Johnson gives Regalado a shout-out. “Mayor Regalado! Thank you, Mayor, for everything!” The mayor flashes a thumbs-up.

Regalado says his professional acting debut is just his way of keeping his options open when his second and final term as mayor ends in 2017.

“I come from TV and radio, and since I’m term-limited, I have to be looking for the next thing,” he said, laughing. “I was very excited when they invited me to come, because The Rock and Andy Garcia [who plays a rival financial manager this season] have such strong connections to Miami. They were showcasing a new restaurant on the river, so I thought that this was a great opportunity to market Miami for free.”

Another perk of the cameo was getting to meet “Ballers” cast member Richard Schiff, who played White House communications director Toby Ziegler on “The West Wing.”

“I loved that show, and I got to sit next to Richard in that scene and meet him. It was a pretty great day.”

Regalado was told the entire thing would take two hours, but he wound up having to spend seven hours on the set, because the scene required 10 takes.

More importantly, he was not paid for his time.

“They didn’t have to pay me anything, because I didn’t have any dialogue,” he says. “Next time, I’m going to ask them to give me some lines.”


Jason Pizzo releases first TV ad in Miami-Dade Senate race


The District 38 state senate race is now hitting the airwaves. 

Former prosecutor Jason Pizzo released the first TV ad in the race on Friday. The 30-second-spot, titled "Leadership," focuses on Pizzo's record as a prosecutor and highlights curbing gun violence as a major issue for his campaign. 

"While gun violence continues to rip our communities apart, typical politicians do nothing," Pizzo says in the ad. The ad also makes a mention of providing a living wage.

Pizzo has a wide lead in the money race in District 38, which encompasses most of northeast Miami-Dade. He's raised almost $430,000, although $400,000 are loans.

The ad will air on targeted broadcast stations and cable networks as part of a "six-figure" buy, according to Pizzo campaign consultant Christian Ulvert.

Six Democrats are on the ballot for the Aug. 30 primary. Longtime senator Gwen Margolis dropped out of the race after referring to her opponents as "three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer."



Carlos Gimenez camp touts big lead in internal poll for Miami-Dade mayoral race


With less than six weeks to go before the Aug. 30 primary,  Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's reelection camp is privately touting an internal poll showing a widening lead against challenger Raquel Regalado.

Naked Politics saw a partial report on the poll by longtime Gimenez pollster Dario Moreno, and confirmed the results with another source involved in the campaign. But we didn't see the full report, including the questions asked. The poll of 800 likely voters, conducted in English and Spanish between July 13 and July 18, shows Gimenez with 43 percent of the vote and Regalado, a two-term school board member, with 18 percent.

That's a big switch from the last Moreno poll in February, which showed a 10-point race with the five-year incumbent at 38 percent and the challenger at 28 percent. Both polls showed undecideds at the same level: 34 percent in February and 33 percent in July. The internal February results, previously unreported, were included in a summary of other polling included in the July report.

The February results mostly matched a public poll conducted in May by Bendixen & Amandi for the Miami Herald and other news organizations, which showed Gimenez ahead by 10 points among likely voters,  36 percent to 26 percent.

Continue reading "Carlos Gimenez camp touts big lead in internal poll for Miami-Dade mayoral race" »

Glitch causes Alan Grayson to file false fundraising report


For the second time, a computer glitch has caused U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson's Senate campaign to report incorrect fundraising information to the Federal Election Commission.

Between April and June, Grayson, D-Orlando, raised more than $1 million, his campaign said last week. But a filing with the FEC published online Friday shows a much lower number: $55,127.

"I’m told there was some computer glitch and the totals are being corrected and will be re-filed," campaign spokesman David Damron said.

It's unclear at this time exactly what went wrong, but the incorrect form was digitally signed by treasurer Dustin Andersen and filed with the Senate and FEC.

An updated form will be filed with the FEC "as soon as we can," Damron said. 

That form will show more than $1 million in contributions, Damron said, as well as a small loan from the candidate.

It also is expected to include details about how much Grayson's campaign spent in the second quarter. The current, incorrect filing shows $0 in spending, but the campaign employs several people and has traveled around the state for events as it drums up support for the Aug. 30 primary.

Grayson's chief opponent in the Democratic primary is U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.

This isn't the first time Grayson's campaign finances have been upended by a computer glitch.

In October 2015, the campaign reported that a Chicago teacher named Jacqueline Kirley had donated to Grayson nearly 2,300 times totalling $37,600 -- well above the maximum donation allowed.

But Kirley had never heard of Grayson.

At the time, then-campaign spokesman Kevin Franck told the Times/Herald reporting software had mixed up Kirley's donor number and that for Act Blue, a group that helps Democrats raise money nationwide.

“For some reason, the system thought Mrs. Kirley and Act Blue were the same,” Franck said.

It took two months for the campaign to resolve the problem and file an updated report with the FEC.

The campaign believes the two glitches are unrelated.

Mail ballot requests for Florida primary top 2 million

One of every six voters in Florida, or more than 2 million, will receive a mail ballot in advance of the state's Aug. 30 statewide primary election, and the number will keep growing over the next month.

The state Division of Elections reported Friday that the requests so far total 2,062,551, with Republican voters outpacing Democrats by about 926,000 to 778,000. The growing number of requests shows the increased popularity of voting by mail, or what used to be known as voting absentee (the Legislature passed a law in 2016 removing the word "absentee" from the statutes).

To put that 2 million number in perspective, it almost equals the turnout in the last August primary in a presidential election year, when 2.3 million people participated.

Miami-Dade reports more than 218,000 requests and Broward more than 146,000.

Pinellas voters outpace all counties in mail ballot requests, with 247,653 as of Friday, or more than 10 percent of the statewide total. That's a reflection of the long-standing emphasis by Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. Every Pinellas voter who gets a ballot in the mail can check a box on the ballot envelope that says, "I want to keep voting by mail," and many do, she said.

Clark's website explains the basics of voting by mail. The ballots themselves will go out in the mail beginning next Tuesday, July 26.


Fact-checking Donald Trump's convention speech


The Republican Party has a new sheriff.

Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president Thursday in Cleveland, vowing a law and order campaign that will "liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities."

"On Jan. 21, 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced," Trump said.

Trump accused President Barack Obama of rolling back "decades of progress" in reducing crime.

Crime rates are generally declining, even as the country has been pummeled by report after report of mass shootings, fatal shootings by police, and fatal shootings of police. Violent crime has been falling on an almost uninterrupted basis since the early 1990s.

Some of his specific talking points were more accurate than others. 

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

July 21, 2016

Donald Trump's Half True claim about Latinos and poverty

Are you better off than you were eight years ago? Donald Trump posed this classic election-year question in his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president at the party’s national convention in Cleveland.

"What about our economy?" he asked.

"I will tell you the plain facts that have been edited out of your nightly news and your morning newspaper," he continued. "Nearly four in 10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58 percent of African-American youth are not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the president took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely."

There’s a lot to unpack there, but given Trump’s attention to immigration from Mexico, we decided to focus on his claim that 2 million more Latinos are in poverty than when Obama took office.

See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found.

Donald Trump, Republican presidential nominee



CLEVELAND -- On the night when it mattered most, Donald Trump harnessed the power of his populist campaign rhetoric and turned it into a potent, structured speech in which he contended that he — and he alone — understands voters’ angst in a frightening, rapidly changing world.

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” the 70-year-old billionaire New York developer said.

“Nobody knows the system better than me,” he added, pausing for laughs and dramatic effect, “which is why I alone can fix it.”

Trump accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination Thursday in Cleveland, a little more than a year after launching an insurrectional candidacy that overwhelmed 16 other candidates and upended the modern GOP.

He reveled in retelling the story of his improbable White House bid, decrying a political class whose campaigns he helped fund for years and a news media that gave singular attention to his celebrity candidacy.

“America is a nation of believers, dreamers and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics,” Trump said. “Remember: All of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight.”

Though toned down and scripted, Trump still sounded like his blunt, blustery self, speaking in direct and often-short sentences and offering a grim picture of America.

More here.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

PolitiFact: Trump says Clinton wants sanctuary cities

Donald Trump said at the Republican convention that nothing affected him more deeply than spending time with parents who have lost their children to violence "spilling across our border."

He said that Hillary Clinton favors shielding undocumented immigrants from federal laws.

"My opponent wants sanctuary cities," Trump said to boos.

Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions that have laws or practices that limit their assistance to federal immigration officials, for a variety of reasons that we’ll explain. Trump proposes eliminating federal grants to sanctuary cities.

Clinton expressed support for the sanctuary city policies during her first presidential race in 2008. During her current race, she criticized decisions by a particular city in the spotlight for sanctuary policy; however, she did reiterate her support for sanctuary cities. We did not get a reply from the Trump campaign for this fact-check.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

PolitiFact: Donald Trump's misleading speech claim about ISIS and Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump told the audience of the Republican National Convention that ISIS wasn’t an issue before Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

"In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map," he said July 21. "Libya was stable. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing, really a big big reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was somewhat under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the entire world."

Trump made a similar claim pointing the finger at Clinton for the creation of ISIS in an interview that aired on 60 Minutes Sunday, a day before the convention began.

While the name ISIS (or Islamic State or Daesh, etc.) is relatively new, the leaders and founders have origins that pre-date Clinton’s time as the chief diplomat of the United States.

"There were evolutions that took place with some of the name changes," Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, previously told PolitiFact. (He has testified before Congress multiple times and works for a foundation focused on foreign policy and security.)

The roots of what today is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, trace back to 2004, when longtime Sunni extremist Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi established al-Qaida in Iraq, according to the National Counterterrorism Center.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.