August 25, 2014

Tom Steyer's NextGen group targets Rick Scott for "hiding" Duke Energy ties

@MarcACaputo

First there was an ad. Then there was a response ad. Now there's a reply to the response.

The tit for tat for tit ad war between billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and Gov. Rick Scott continued on Monday when the activtis's NextGen Climate group released its latest spot tying the Republican to a controversial Duke Energy deal that socked customers with higher fees to build a nuclear plant that was ultimately never built.

NextGen released the first spot earlier this month, which PolitiFact rated as "half true."

Scott's Republican Party of Florida tried to pin the deal on Democrat Charlie Crist -- a claim that was "false," according to PolitiFact (both ads and another were fact-checked here).

Now, based on that last spot, NextGen says Scott is simply "hiding."

Fact-check of RPOF's ad about Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein buying Charlie Crist's judicial picks

Florida’s famous Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein now lives in a federal prison, but Republicans hope that he can help smear the reputation of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Back when Crist was a Republican, Rothstein and his Fort Lauderdale law firm donated generously to Crist and the Republican Party of Florida, as well as several other politicians.

In 2010, Rothstein was convicted in a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Rothstein’s testimony in a related case provided fodder now being used by Republicans to attack Crist in a TV ad.

"Convicted swindler Scott Rothstein bought expensive things with stolen money. He even bought a governor," says the narrator. "Rothstein boasted about contributing huge sums of money to the campaign of then Gov. Charlie Crist and the influence it gave him over judicial appointments. Now cooperating with prosecutors, Scott Rothstein admits he gave hundreds of thousands of campaign cash to control Crist’s appointments of key state judges."

Florida newspapers have extensively covered Rothstein’s case over the years. We wanted to know if the facts matched up with the ad’s brief description. To do that, we reviewed everything we could find on the case and conducted new interviews of people who had dealings with Rothstein on judicial appointments.

What we found doesn’t reflect well on Crist, who took Rothstein’s money and placed him on a key commission that selected judges.

But we also failed to find hard evidence that Rothstein actually controlled Crist’s judicial appointments as the ad claims. Those who served on a judicial nominating commission with him painted a portrait of someone who was all style but not much substance. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our rating and the full fact-check.

Rick Scott's progress on 700,000 jobs promise

Careering into the August primary, Gov. Rick Scott's promise to create more than 700,000 jobs in seven years has either suffered a hiccup or continues unabated, depending on your point of view.

July jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Florida lost 1,600 jobs last month -- or gained 2,100, if you ask Scott. He has consistently ignored losses in government employment and touted private sector growth. The state has lost 25,400 government jobs during Scott's term, U.S. Labor Department economist Timothy Ewing told PolitiFact Florida.

His office on Aug. 15, 2014, crowed about the state's private businesses adding 620,300 jobs since December 2010. He also noted the unemployment rate, which is not vital to this particular promise, was down to 6.2 percent.

The Scott-O-Meter only counts jobs since Scott took office in January 2011, and is calculated using BLS numbers for seasonally adjusted, nonfarm work that includes changes in government employment. We put the total through July at 594,900, still short of the 700,000 goal. Actually, that should be the 1.7 million goal.
 
To see how PolitiFact Florida rated the status of his job promise in August, turn to Joshua Gillin's update.

Scott campaign, GOP have paid $227K for use of jet

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign and the Republican Party of Florida have paid more than $227,000 for use of the private jet that Scott also uses for official state travel. The Cessna Citation is owned by a Naples business whose only officer is First Lady Ann Scott. The jet tail number ends with the first lady's initials.

Campaign finance reports list 19 separate payments to Ann Scott's company, Columbia Collier Management LLC. The most recent payment is also the largest one to date in the campaign, a $41,000 transaction to the Republican Party of Florida dated Aug. 15.

The frequency and amount of payments for the plane's use picked up in May soon after the Times/Herald reported that neither Scott's campaign nor the party were reporting any expenditures for use of the plane by the campaign, as campaign finance laws require. Democrats subsequently filed complaints against Scott with the Florida Elections Commission.

Scott calls for review of new education standards, state assessments

Late last week, an election-minded Gov. Rick Scott released a plan to increase per-pupil spending.

On Monday, he followed up with a proposal to review the state's new education benchmarks and assessments, and increase investments into digital learning, school safety and both reading and math instruction. 

"We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible," Scott said in a statement.

Scott also said he would pursue "additional strategies to keep the cost of college low" and require colleges and universities to notify the public about proposed tuition increases.

Education has become a focus of the gubernatorial contest.

Earlier this month, Democratic candidate Charlie Crist visited five Florida cities in a yellow school bus promising to restore the cuts to public education funding.

Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate said he doubted Scott's latest proposal would sway voters.

"There isn't an election-eve promise big enough to make parents and teachers forget that Rick Scott cut education K-12 education funding by $1.3 billion after a failed attempt to cut $4.8 billion," he said.

August 24, 2014

Ex-Rep. David Rivera: A parent's nightmare

@MarcACaputo

David Rivera isn’t just a scandal-plagued ex-lawmaker and current congressional candidate.

Rivera is also a parent’s nightmare.

Last week, that awful truth came home to the parents of Ana Alliegro, a 44-year-old political operative who has been sitting in jail for almost six months over a campaign-finance conspiracy that, she admitted Tuesday, was hatched by Rivera.

“If Rivera was indeed her friend, he should have come forth long ago to accept or refute the allegations,” Alliegro’s father, Anselmo Alliegro, wrote in the comments section of a local legal blog.

“She has suffered enough expecting Rivera to come [to] her defense,” he wrote. “A person that shows such callous disregard for a friend’s sacrifice does not deserve loyalty.”

To call Ms. Alliegro “loyal” is an understatement. She was more like a cult adherent to Rivera. Yes, she willingly broke the law, but she was also under his thrall.

The devotion to Rivera, at least at first, was somewhat understandable. He’s charming. Funny. Smart. Hardworking. Powerful. He also has a few media apologists, mainly Spanish-language, who praise him or attack anyone who questions him.

For Alliegro, Rivera implicitly promised political and social status. He also could get his hands on lots of money.

More here

'Souls to the polls' returns to Miami-Dade early voting

@doug_hanks @PatriciaMazzei

On Sunday morning, Rev. Steven Caldwell urged his parishioners to do their “godly duty” and vote in the primary election, warning them that “if you think your vote doesn’t count, the Devil has lied to you.”

If Caldwell’s booming words weren’t enough to move his flock, he had a coach bus waiting outside to drive them to an early-voting site after the service.

“We thank God for letting us play a part in the political process,” said Caldwell, pastor at the New Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. “We’re going to vote. Amen.”

New Providence’s early-voting bus trip represented just one cog in a broad effort by African-American churches to get their members to cast ballots on the last day of early voting before Primary Day on Tuesday.

Championed by Democrats, the churches’ “Souls to the Polls” strategy helped fuel a partisan battle in 2012 when Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature barred early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. They brought it back for 2014, making Sunday a revival of sorts for the relatively new campaign tradition.

More here.

Dems plan unity rally

@AdamSmithTimes

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It took weeks for Rod Smith to endorse Jim Davis for governor after their bruising 2006 Democratic primary, and in 2002 Janet Reno did not even concede the gubernatorial primary to Bill McBride for a week. Voting problems in south Florida had left the outcome in doubt.

 

This year Democrats are determined not to lose precious time struggling to unite before focusing on the general election. Party leaders are planning a couple ambitious unity rallies on Thursday.

Gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nan Rich will be together in Orlando Thursday morning, along with George Sheldon and Perry Thurston, the rivals for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be on hand, among others.

The gang will hold another unity rally Thursday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale

David Rivera was named co-conspirator, but his Miami congressional rivals have moved on

@PatriciaMazzei

Although the mysterious name behind “Co-conspirator A” was already known, the timing of its disclosure in a Miami courtroom last week could not have been worse for David Rivera.

Rivera’s friend, Ana Alliegropleaded guiltyTuesday to conspiring with the former Republican congressman to finance a novice candidate who challenged Rivera’s archrival, Joe Garcia, in the 2012 Democratic primary. Her testimony is considered crucial to any possible indictment of Rivera.

Yet Rivera’s four opponents in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the 26th Congressional District — as they’ve done throughout the campaign — have largely ignored the once-influential politician, knowing full well that media coverage of the federal probe has badly damaged him. They have preferred to focus on Garcia.

“We don’t lay judgment on other people,” Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall said after a Friday debate. He was referring to himself and Joe Martinez, two Rivera rivals and former Miami-Dade County police officers.

More here.

The Charlie Crist-Nan Rich campaign that wasn't

@MarcACaputo @Stevebousquet

Charlie Crist has ignored his Democratic opponent for nearly a year, and now voters will decide the soundness of his strategy Tuesday in the party’s primary race for governor.

Crist is expected to roll up a big double-digit victory over Nan Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader whose lack of name identification was matched by her inability to mount an effective campaign that excited voters or garnered media attention.

Crist refused to debate Rich, focusing instead on Republican Gov. Rick Scott and inflaming Rich and her supporters in the process.

But voters don’t seem to be holding it against Crist, even in Rich’s home county of Broward, where Crist opened a regional headquarters, rented a beachfront apartment and will gather with supporters Tuesday night rather than in his usual place, his hometown of St. Petersburg.

“I like Nan Rich, but I voted for Charlie Crist because he has the best chance of beating Rick Scott,” said Richard Maisel, 76, who lives in Rich’s Weston-based precinct. Maisel said his wife, Janice, also voted for Crist when they cast their ballots at a Broward early-voting site.

Closest to home, Rich has not stirred much enthusiasm. Of the 1,300 registered Democrats in Rich’s precinct, only 59 have cast early and absentee ballots, a sign of low overall turnout in this Democrat-rich county.

Even if there’s a small Democratic turnout Tuesday across Florida, Crist said, he isn’t worried that it wouldn’t indicate the base of the party wasn’t ready to vote for him in the general election.

“The base is excited,” Crist said. “And the base is excited because of Rick Scott. He’s a four-year disaster.”

more here