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April 21, 2015

AP: Jeb Bush prepares to give traditional campaign a makeover

From the Associated Press:

DES MOINES, IOWA -- The traditional presidential campaign may be getting a dramatic makeover in Jeb Bush's bid for the White House as he prepares to turn some of a campaign's central functions over to a separate political organization that can raise unlimited amounts of money.

The concept, in development for months as the former Florida governor has raised tens of millions of dollars for his Right to Rise super PAC, would endow that organization not just with advertising on Bush's behalf, but with many of the duties typically conducted by a campaign.

Should Bush move ahead as his team intends, it is possible that for the first time a super PAC created to support a single candidate would spend more than the candidate's campaign itself — at least through the primaries. Some of Bush's donors believe that to be more than likely.

Architects of the plan believe the super PAC's ability to raise unlimited amounts of money legally outweighs its primary disadvantage, that it cannot legally coordinate its actions with Bush or his would-be campaign staff.

More here

Matt Gaetz and the sky-diving is agri-tourism argument

Matt GaetzRep. Matt Gaetz is one of the Florida House's more accomplished debaters, but last month he couldn’t get a judge to agree that his client’s skydiving business constitutes “agri-tourism,’’ so on Tuesday, he prepared an amendment that would have asked his House colleagues to carve out an exception to the law.

Gaetz says the amendment, HB 137 and SB 158, would not have applied to Gaetz’s clients James and Melanie Nipper of Walton County, who operate “Skydive Live” on their property.

But he proposed the amendment, he said, to protect other aviation-related recreational businesses from facing the same scrutiny.

“In this circumstance, I represented a skydiving company,” Gaetz explained. “A government was trying to shut them down. At a public meeting, the government abandoned their efforts to regulate my clients but I was concerned the circumstance could arise again in other parts of Florida and I wanted to make sure that people who want to maximize the economic opportunity of their farms will have the same opportunity that the people that I represented are going to have.”

The Nippers’ neighbors see it differently.

Continue reading "Matt Gaetz and the sky-diving is agri-tourism argument" »

Florida lawmakers rip testing vendor after second round of glitches

Schoolchildren who sat for state exams Tuesday experienced few of the technical troubles that brought testing to a standstill one day earlier.

Still, lawmakers in Tallahassee seized the opportunity to publicly blast the state’s testing vendor for its second high-profile blunder in two months.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, went as far as to say Florida should end its contract with American Institutes for Research.

"In light of the bill that the governor signed last week that will stop the utilization of that statewide assessment until it is validated — and we all know it won’t be valid — I think we as responsible agents of the taxpayer dollar need to stop this $225 million contract dead in its tracks," Hays said.

More here.

Scott says he'll call special session if lawmakers don't pass budget

Gov. Rick Scott unexpectedly announced Tuesday that if the Legislature can't settle its budget differences before May 1, he plans to call lawmakers back for a special session next month and ask the Senate and House to adopt a "continuation budget" to fund critical needs of the state next year at existing levels.

Scott issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that said: "I believe that a compromise can be reached that allows for a significant tax cut and historic per student education funding, while supporting critical state services if the House and the Senate begin working immediately working on allocations that set aside adequate reserves to wait for the federal government's decision on the LIP (low income pool) amendment."

By calling for a continuation budget, Scott is giving up on his two biggest legislative priorities: a package of tax cuts and higher funding for public schools.

Scott also said he plans to convene a Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to "examine the revenues of Florida hospitals, insurance and healthcare providers and how any taxpayer money contributed to the profits or losses of these institutions in Florida."

Former Miami mayor and Hillary Clinton supporter Manny Diaz hosting event for Martin O'Malley


As Miami mayor, Manny Diaz backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. But now he's hosting a breakfast for former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a potential Clinton rival in 2016.

"He's not running yet, but I'll tell you, if he does run, I will endorse him," Diaz told the Miami Herald. "He's an old friend, and I'm very loyal to old friends."

Diaz praised O'Malley's work as Baltimore mayor and noted he visited him when he first got elected in Miami. Diaz ended up using Baltimore's 311 call system as a model for his own city.

"He's very data-driven, results-oriented, 'let's see how we're doing, let's measure ourselves,'" Diaz said. Plus, he has a soft spot in his heart for executives: In 2008, as head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Diaz said he met separately with Clinton and Barack Obama and urged them to run as "mayor of the United States."

"When you look at what mayors do, and in this case what governor's do -- and he's been both, so he's actually run something," Diaz said. "He's run two governments."

The event, organized by O'Malley's political action committee, allows people to contribute to his likely campaign effort. But Diaz said in an email to invitees that they don't necessarily need to give O'Malley money.

"As sitting Mayors, Martin and I worked closely together and have maintained a strong friendship through the years," Diaz wrote. "I would like to introduce you to my friend. No commitments. No checks. Only a cup of coffee, a handshake and a simple hello."

The breakfast is scheduled for 8 a.m. May 8 at Perricone's on Brickell.

This post has been updated with Diaz's comments.

In radio interview, Jeb Bush praises NSA surveillance


Asked by a Seattle radio host Tuesday to name the best thing President Obama's administration has done, likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush cited the government's controversial surveillance programs.

"The NSA being enhanced," he told host Michael Medved in a pre-recorded interview, "while protecting civil liberties."

Bush praised Obama for continuing National Security Agency programs begun under his brother, George W. Bush, that have drawn the ire of civil libertarians who object to the government's power to listen to conversations or otherwise gather data on law-abiding citizens.

"He's not abandoned them," Jeb Bush said.

Bush has advocated for the expanded surveillance programs in the past, calling the technology "hugely important" in a February speech and reiterating in March that Obama should defend and explain the intelligence gathering. Marco Rubio, the Florida Senator who unlike Bush has formally announced his presidential candidacy, has also stood by the programs, describing them as essential in a dangerous world.

A fellow GOP presidential hopeful, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, has made criticism of the programs a key campaign platform.

Bush is in the Pacific Northwest raising money for his still-not-campaign campaign.

This guy? Meet the frequently wrong doctor House Republicans are relying on for their talking points

In the “history lesson” that House Republican leaders gave to their members on Tuesday, they handed out a resource guide that they could refer to in the coming weeks to bolster their position to oppose Medicaid expansion.

Included in the packet was an article written by Jason Fodeman, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona.

Why Fodeman?

Well, if Nexis-Lexis is any guide, and it is, then Fodeman is one of the earliest opponents of Obamacare.

A former health policy fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Fodeman has made a career out of slamming Obamacare.

On April 20, 2009, nearly a year before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the Wichita Eagle, The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), the Washington Times, and the Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City) ran an op-ed by Fodeman with the headline “Don’t make health care crisis worse.”

Passing Obamacare, Fodeman warned, would “generate a $9.3 trillion tidal wave of red ink over the next decade.”


So five years into Obamacare, how we doin’?

Continue reading "This guy? Meet the frequently wrong doctor House Republicans are relying on for their talking points" »

Sen. Gaetz: I don’t support allowing agencies to deny gay adoptions

via @SteveRothaus:

Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Tuesday the he does not support a proposal allowing private agencies to deny adoptions by gay and lesbian couples on religious or moral grounds.

“It has many, many problems,” Gaetz, the former Senate president, told the Miami Herald. “It has constitutional problems, practical problems, and I would not support it. I’m not a lawyer. I’m relying on the general counsel’s opinion. I would not vote for House Bill 7111.”

The House on April 9 passed HB 7111. Chief sponsor Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, called it a religious “conscience” bill.

On Monday, the Florida Senate Rules Committee didn’t move forward with its companion bill. A vote was temporarily postponed and may be brought up again by the same committee, said state Rep. David Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker.

Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said Monday afternoon he would work with Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, to determine how to proceed.

“With the clock running out, it is very likely the end of the line for this bad bill,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of LGBT-rights group Equality Florida. “The bottom line is the bill is unconstitutional. It would have allowed state-funded discrimination and in doing so threatened hundreds of millions of federal dollars for foster care and adoption. It was written in way to allow a broad range of discrimination at taxpayer expense.”

On April 8, Gaetz urged fellow senators to officially repeal Florida’s 1977 gay adoption ban, which hasn’t been enforced since 2010 when several courts found it unconstitutional.

More here.

Marco Rubio refunds excessive campaign contributions

From Florida Bulldog:

Two days before he officially announced his run for the presidency last week, Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign disclosed that it had refunded more than $23,000 in excessive contributions it previously had accepted.

Another $27,000 in over-the-limit contributions originally raised to boost Republican Rubio for a Senate primary election fight was either reclassified for use in the 2016 general election, or applied to the spouses of donors who gave more than the $2,600 maximum per election allowed by federal law, federal election records show.

That $50,000 in refunds, reclassifications and reassignments were in response to violation notices sent by the Federal Election Commission to the campaign after each of its quarterly financial report filings in 2014.

In four April 11 response letters, Rubio campaign assistant treasurer Lisa Lisker said that Rubio’s campaign committee — recently renamed Marco Rubio for President — and the separate Rubio Victory PAC had not tracked excessive contributions or duplicate entries.

More here.

Mario Diaz-Balart asks USPS to explain denied ZIP code for Miami Lakes

via @Paradise_Afshar

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart has written a letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan in support of Miami Lakes' quest to learn why its request for a ZIP code boundary change was denied by the U.S. Postal Service.

"I respectfully request, within all applicable rules and regulations, for the full and fair consideration of Miami Lakes' [Freedom of Information Act] request and would appreciate a response on this matter," the letter said.

In December, Miami Lakes submitted a public records request to the postal service, asking for backup documents, such as studies and cost breakdowns, that were used to deny the town's request for a ZIP code boundary review.

In response, the postal service said it couldn't provide the information requested, as those details are exempt from public disclosure.

The town has appealed this response saying, in part, that the postal service's denial is an "error as a matter of policy and of law."

More here.