Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

October 19, 2016

A Miami roast as crass as the 2016 election


It was crass, tasteless and offensive.

And so, to get over the depressing second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Miami gathered Tuesday night in Brickell to mock the sordid election to choose a new commander-in-chief.

“Welcome to the roast of the 2016 presidential election, which I think we can all agree isn’t funny anymore,” roast-master and filmmaker Billy Corben said to the crowd at the Flamingo Theater Bar in the Four Ambassadors Hotel.

To read more, click here.


Rubio says he won't talk Wikileaks: 'Tomorrow it could be us'


Marco Rubio undercut one of Donald Trump's key political messages Wednesday, cautioning Republicans against campaigning on emails released by Wikileaks -- which most recently have exposed the inner political maneuvering of Hillary Clinton's top staff.

In a statement, Rubio said he won't bring up issues exposed "solely" by Wikileaks. Rubio is a member of the Senate intelligence and foreign relations committees; the U.S. has blamed recent email hacks of the Democratic National Committee on Russia.

"I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of Wikileaks," Rubio said. "As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it. Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats.Tomorrow it could be us."

Photo credit: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

Extra week of registration produces at least 64,000 new voters

The extra week of voter registration across Florida that Gov. Rick Scott initially opposed has already produced nearly 37,000 new voters and the increase will keep growing in the coming days as Florida sets an all-time record in the total number of voters.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner reported late Tuesday that 36,823 voter registration forms were verified and are active in the state voter database and that another 26,773 applicants are being verified, for a potential bounty of nearly 64,000 additional voters, with an undetermined additional number of voter forms being mailed that haven't yet arrived at county elections offices.

To put that number in perspective, Scott won re-election as governor two years ago by 64,145 votes.

Detzner said every voter registration application must be verified using voters' Social Security numbers and Florida driver license numbers to confirm voters' IDs. Once that is done, the information is sent to the county supervisor of elections, who adds the voter to the rolls.

"The Department will devote more than 65 staff members to assist in this process up until election day," Detzner said in a release. "Of this number, 19 staff members are trained and approved by the state to enter and handle sensitive voter information."

Scott last week rejected calls by Democrats to extend the voter registration deadline past Oct. 11 because of Hurricane Matthew, so Democrats sued the state and requested an extra week. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee approved the extension, first for one day and then for six more days, and attorneys for Scott and Detzner officially took no position in court on the extension. Scott, quoting from Walker's decision, later said he lacked the legal authority to extend the registration period.

The voter sign-up period ended at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but any forms mailed that were postmarked by Tuesday are also considered valid.

The state did not provide a breakdown of new voters by party. That information won't be available until sometime next week at the earliest, Detzner's office said.  

The state's largest county, Miami-Dade, has been a hotbed of new voter registration activity. The Miami Herald's Alex Harris reported boxes and trays full of new forms were left at the offices of Supervisor of Elections Christina White on Tuesday afternoon.

The Miami-Dade voter roll grew by more than 38,000 voters to 1,307,458, during the two months between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, far more than any other county in Florida, according to the state Division of Elections web site. Miami-Dade is a strongly Democratic county and the majority of its voters are Hispanic, a key voting bloc in the upcoming elections for president between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and for U.S. Senate between Sen. Marco Rubio of West Miami and Rep. Patrick Murphy.

In Miami, some people knew about the deadline extension and were taking advantage of it. Kaan Canusgurlu, a 20-year-old man who was born in Boston but spent all but the last two months in Turkey, registered with no party affiliation and said he knew about the extension. 

"It's obvious everyone should vote for Hillary," he said. "The other guy looks like the guys who govern Turkey, and they are not good at governing."
Oscar Arnero, 61, of North Miami, registered for the first time after hearing it was his last day to do so, and plans to vote for Trump. "I like everything he says, and I want something to change," Arnero said.
--With reporting by Alex Harris of The Miami Herald


Gov. Scott's pro-Trump super PAC raises $18 million

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott's super PAC supporting Donald Trump pulled in nearly $18 million in the third quarter, including $6 million from Linda McMahon of WWE fame and a former U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut.

McMahon has been critical of Trump --"He's not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light," she told Yahoo Politics in March -- but joined the team and her donations to Rebuilding America Now came in several installments starting in August, according to an FEC report.

The PAC had $3 million cash on hand, having spent the bulk of the money on a number of TV commercials supporting Trump and attacking Hillary Clinton.

Other big donors:

Marcus Bernard, a founder of Home Depot: $5 million

Ronald Cameron, the poultry billionaire  - $2 million

See all the donors here. Gov. Scott is not among them.

As Scott has taken on a growing role helping raise money for a super PAC supporting Trump, his own political action committee on the state level has dramatically slowed its fundraising.

Since the start of 2015, Scott had raised more than $7 million in his Let’s Get to Work political action committee which he has used to run television ads and support his legislative agenda. But since Aug. 27, Scott has received just one $100 check. It’s the least amount of money Scott has raised during a nearly two month stretch since early 2011 in his first six months in office.

Scott is still spending money out of the account though. Earlier this month Let’s Get to Work sent a $200,0000 contribution to Florida Jobs PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce. It was his largest single donation in more than 6 months.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times, with Jeremy Wallace

Republicans accuse Patrick Murphy of U.S. House ethics violation over 2014 oppo book

Campaign 2016 Florida (3) (2)


The Republican Party of Florida's executive director alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy violated House ethics rules because a recently leaked opposition research report that Murphy’s 2014 congressional campaign commissioned on the candidate himself says it was done "in collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office."

Federal law and House ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from using official congressional resources for campaign or political purposes. Murphy has been in Congress since 2013.

RPOF executive director George Riley signed off on an official complaint, which says it was emailed to the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the political committee that seeks to elect Senate Republicans, like incumbent Marco Rubio -- distributed Riley's letter Wednesday morning.

Read the letter here.

Last week, Buzzfeed reported on the contents of the opposition research report, which it obtained from a Republican source. Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign did not dispute the validity of the 400-page document. Such reports are commonplace for campaigns, offering insight about vulnerabilities (and strengths) into a candidate's personal and professional record so that the campaign can prepare ways to defend (or highlight) that history.

"This admitted 'collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office' provides clear evidence that Murphy's office 'collaborated' with the campaign in preparing this document," Riley wrote in his complaint. "At a minimum, it provides both a 'reasonable basis' and 'probable cause' to believe that Murphy improperly used official resources for campaign purposes, justifying further investigation by OCE."

Aside from requesting that OCE "fully investigate Representative Murphy's use of official resources" for the vulnerability study "and for any other campaign purpose," Riley also asked that OCE "refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice for further review, as appropriate."

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement in response to the complaint: "Marco Rubio's special interest allies seem to file false attacks like this every week. This is nothing more than a frivolous waste of taxpayer resources in an attempt to benefit Marco Rubio and his endless political ambition."

The leak of the 2014 opposition research, and subsequent filing of an ethics complaint, indicates national and state Republicans remain worried about Murphy's chances of unseating Rubio in November. (Although national Democrats seem to feel differently since, as recently as this week, they've withdrawn millions of dollars in ad support intended for Murphy.)

Despite Murphy struggling in September against Rubio, he's had a somewhat stronger October -- thanks, in large part, to the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump and Rubio's decision to still stand by the Republican presidential nominee.

This is at least the second ethics complaint filed against Murphy this cycle. This summer, a Democratic progressive blogger who supported Murphy's primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, filed an ethics complaint over Murphy's ties to political donors who benefit from a immigration visa program Murphy has supported. No public decisions have been announced as to the state of that complaint.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

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

President Obama speaks Spanish in new ad for Patrick Murphy



While national Democratic groups are all-but abandoning Patrick Murphy to fend for himself in Florida's U.S. Senate race, the party's figurehead isn't.

President Barack Obama cut another ad for the two-term Jupiter congressman -- this one in Spanish.

In the new 30-second spot, Obama said Murphy "will fight for immigration reform, better education, and higher wages."

"Go out and vote for Patrick. Your vote is very important," he added.

Of the eight general election ads Murphy's campaign has released to date, this is the first one that doesn't also simultaneously attack, or even mention, his opponent: Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy's campaign said the ad will air in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami as part of an existing million-dollar ad buy.

This is the latest example of Murphy's aggressive and noticeable efforts to improve his appeal among Hispanic voters since late September. Rubio, a Cuban-American who's fluent in Spanish, has polled stronger among that demographic, aside from leading Murphy in every poll for months. (Recent overall polls have shown the two candidates closer, which has narrowed Rubio's average advantage to 4.2 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics.) 

Obama -- and Vice President Joe Biden -- endorsed Murphy in the spring. Obama did both radio and TV ads for Murphy over the summer when he was still in a contested primary against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Image credit: Patrick Murphy campaign / YouTube

As they debate respect for women, Rubio aims to make old photo haunt Murphy

Murphy girlfriend pic

@ByKristenMClark & @TMarreroTimes

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has hammered Marco Rubio for weeks on women’s issues, whether it be the Republican incumbent’s opposition to abortion or his continued allegiance to Donald Trump.

After Murphy persisted on that line of attack for the better part of Monday night’s U.S. Senate debate in Orlando, Rubio had had enough.

And he lowered the boom on his challenger — so abruptly it left Murphy temporarily rattled in search of a response.

The weapon: An old photo of a fresh-faced Patrick Murphy sitting at a table with one arm around a woman and a few fingers of his other hand apparently grabbing at her breast.

More here.

Photo credit: In this undated photo from several years ago, current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy appears to be grabbing at the breast of a woman who he says was his then-girlfriend. Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio referenced the photo during the candidates’ first Senate debate Monday night. Rubio’s campaign provided the image, with the woman’s face blocked out. (Provided by Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign)

October 18, 2016

Are politicians’ social media accounts public record? One man is suing Miami Beach to find out



If a municipal mayor tweets official city business or posts it on a Facebook page, is that a public record?

Local mortgage broker, radio broadcaster and civic activist Grant Stern certainly thinks so. He's suing Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who blocked Stern on Twitter and Facebook. Stern has been critical of Levine and the Beach after scientists found that water discharged into Biscayne Bay by the city's stormwater pumps contained pollutants.

Stern wants past tweets, the list of accounts Levine has blocked on Facebook and recordings of "The Mayor," a Sirius/XM radio program Levine hosts. The city has denied his requests.

Read more.


Coming to Curbelo's aid on Spanish-language radio: $400K in ads from GOP gay rights super PAC


Miami's Spanish-language radio airwaves are about to get filled with ads for Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo and against Democrat Joe Garcia, courtesy of a GOP gay rights super PAC.

American Unity PAC, which last month unveiled a $150,000 digital ad campaign on Curbelo's behalf, says it has bought $400,000 in Spanish-language radio ads between Wednesday and Election Day to help the endangered Curbelo try to hold on to Democratic-leaning 26th congressional district.

"He's such a bold voice for us, and he's a young member of Congress," Tyler Deaton, senior adviser to American Unity, said about the group's sizable investment in Curbelo. He estimated the super PAC will spend about $750,000 on the race, between the radio ads and an expansion of its digital ads, which focus on equal pay for women and are out in Spanish and English.

American Unity will air a positive, pro-Curbelo ad and a negative, anti-Garcia ad, both of which will also be available online.

"Curbelo is a different kind of Republican," the pro-Curbelo spot says, casting the congressman as a maverick and a champion of immigration reform the environment and equal pay for women. "He opposes the dangerous deal with Iran which rewards a regime that persecutes women, Christians and gay people and threatens to wipe Israel off the map."

Listen to the ad

As for the anti-Garcia spot?

"Joe Garcia is back again," it begins. "We fired Garcia from Congress just two years ago after a sleazy corruption scandal."

Listen to the ad 2