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August 23, 2016

Beruff campaigns in Clearwater, Rubio back in Miami


With Election Day just a week away now, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff turns his attention to Clearwater. The Manatee County homebuilder is schedule to speak at a townhall-style meeting at a Springhill Suites in Clearwater at 11:30 a.m. 

Beruff is back on the trial after taking Monday off to focus on his role as chairman of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is back in Miami after spending most of Monday campaigning in North Florida. Rubio is primarily fundraising today, with no other public events scheduled.


Marco Rubio takes aim at Chuck Schumer in U.S. Senate race


More than 200 people turned out in Marianna to see U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speak to the Jackson County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner. Photo:  Jeremy Wallace/Tampa Bay Times


Forget either of the Democrats challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or even his Republican primary opponent on the ballot next week. During a pair of campaign stops in North Florida, Rubio made clear who he is really trying to stop: Chuck Schumer.

At a pair of speeches spread over 70 miles and six hours on Monday, Rubio told audiences that a big reason he finally decided to run for re-election was because of Schumer, the New York Democrat who would become the new Senate Majority Leader if Democrats win back the majority in November.

“If we lose the Senate in Florida, that means we probably lose the Senate,” Rubio told 60 supporters at meeting in Tallahassee. “That means Chuck Schumer becomes majority leader. That means all of the of these public policies that Barack Obama has put into place remain in place for the foreseeable future.”

Hours later in Jackson County, Rubio similarly told more than 200 people at a local Republican Party fundraising dinner that if he had not run, he feared it would make it easier for Schumer to become the leader of the Senate. That in turn he said would give the New York Senator too much say in picking the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died earlier this year.

“And I promise you that if Chuck Schumer is in charge of the U.S. Senate, the person they will confirm in that Senate will be nothing like the kind of justice we want and nothing like the kind of justice Scalia was,” Rubio said.

Rubio said after his speech in Tallahassee that he just wants people to understand that if Schumer is the majority leader he will become a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton agenda if she wins the White House.

“That’s not the direction America wants to go in. I believe that,” Rubio said. “That’s the practical implication of losing the majority in the Senate. Chuck would be the majority leader. And I think Chuck stands for issues - stands for public policies ideas - that the majority of Floridians don’t support.”

PolitiFact: Donald Trump's Half True claim about Clinton's immigration plan


Donald Trump’s first TV ad of the general election depicts Hillary Clinton’s immigration plan as dangerous for America.

"In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay," states the ad. "Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse. Donald Trump’s America is secure. Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe. Change that makes America safe again."

The narration is accompanied by sinister music and footage of men being apprehended by border agents while other shadowy men walk freely on public streets.

We have previously fact-checked Trump’s claim that Clinton wants "totally open borders" and ruled that False. He is correct that she wants to allow more Syrian refugees in the United States.

This fact-check will focus on whether Clinton supports allowing illegal immigrants convicted of crimes to stay in the country.

There is some truth to his claim, but Trump’s scary ad omits an important part of the story.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Patrick Murphy averaged $1,300 a day on legal fees in less than 6 weeks

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Democrat Patrick Murphy is fast racking up legal expenses for his U.S. Senate campaign -- averaging $1,288 a day over less than six weeks this summer.

Murphy's campaign describes it as run-of-the-mill campaign costs, but the Jupiter congressman's pre-primary disclosure to the Federal Election Commission this month shows his political legal expenses mounting at an atypical pace.

Murphy reported spending $52,800 on legal services between July 1 and Aug. 10 -- almost double the $27,200 he spent on legal fees for the entire second quarter (the three months between April and June) and roughly half of what he's spent on legal fees in the past 13 months altogether.

Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp declined to say what exactly Murphy's legal fees were going toward.

"It's normal for campaigns to pay lawyers to make sure we're always following the law, and the larger the campaign, the more moving pieces there are," Karp said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

But by comparison, a handful of other top Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in similarly competitive races this year haven't spent nearly as much as Murphy on legal fees as their campaigns also ramped up and as they employed the same law firm. In fact, Murphy spent more in less than six weeks than four such candidates did in the preceding three months combined.

Between April and June, Katie McGinty of Pennsylvania, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Ted Strickland of Ohio together spent just $35,400 on legal costs. Each used Seattle-based Perkins Coie for their legal work, an elite firm often used by Democratic candidates, including Murphy.

Not all had such low expenses; Tammy Duckworth of Illinois came close to matching Murphy's legal spending in the second quarter with $24,600 in fees to Perkins Coie. (None of these five have pre-primary reports due this month, because their state primaries are held at a different time than Florida's.)

The Senate Leadership Fund, a major conservative super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, highlighted Murphy's pre-primary legal costs on Monday, implying the irregularly high legal fees during that six-week period are related to FEC complaints filed against Murphy this summer.

In June, the Senate Leadership Fund alleged Murphy was involved with a "straw donor scheme" because of similar donations that went to both him and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, himself a U.S. Senate candidate six years ago.

When asked if Murphy's legal expenses were related to defending against such FEC complaints, Karp deflected by attacking the Senate Leadership Fund and Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy averaged $1,300 a day on legal fees in less than 6 weeks" »

August 22, 2016

State Senate candidate says his rival threatened to ‘kick his ass’

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The Coral Reef Library polling station in South Dade is a house divided.

They’re not divided about Cuba. Or the Middle East. Or even Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump.

They’re split over whether Ana Rivas Logan, candidate for the state Senate, yelled at primary opponent Andrew Korge: “I’m going to kick your ass.”

About 20 campaign workers present on Sunday morning, with no apparent ax to grind for either candidate — they work for other people on the ballot — were about evenly divided Monday about what they saw and heard.

Not even the police — yeah, they were called — know for sure. The cops filed a vaguely written report and left.

The dispute actually began on Saturday, when Korge showed up at the library to woo voters. Korge was surprised to see Norma Estela, a campaign worker handing out literature for Rivas Logan. About six weeks ago, Rivas Logan said she was suspending her campaign. Korge and Rivas Logan are running in a compact, Kendall-based district.

Estela told the Miami Herald that Korge got in her face, snapped pictures from inches away, demanded to know why she was at the polls and knocked Rivas Logan literature out of her hand.

Annette Taddeo flubs claim of who paid for oppo research on Joe Garcia. It was her -- not the DCCC

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Ever since hackers published a cache of internal Democratic Party memos that painted him in a negative light, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has hammered primary rival Annette Taddeo of overzealous probing into his life for political gain.

In a televised debate Sunday, Taddeo claimed it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that commissioned a 76-page opposition-research tome on Garcia.

"Every campaign does opposition research, and if you did some, I suspect that that's in the norm," moderator Michael Putney, of WPLG-ABC 10's "This Week in South Florida," began. "Now Mr. Garcia alleges that you did a huge amount of opposition research, including things which are kind of out of bounds. Did you?"

"No," Taddeo said. "I have not, actually, and um, you know, the research was actually done by the party."

"The Democratic Party?" Putney asked incredulously.

"Yes!" she said. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."


It was Taddeo's own campaign that paid Spiros Consulting for the Garcia research. Campaign finance reports show she paid Spiros $8,250 in January and $1,375 in March -- a total of $9,625.

Garcia, for his part, has also paid for opposition research. His finance reports show a $6,000 payment to The Maccabee Group in June. But his campaign says that research was on Garcia himself -- a refresher on his past votes and statements -- and not on Taddeo.

An earlier version of this post misstated that Garcia's campaign spending was on opposition research on Taddeo.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Is Marco Rubio looking past primary too much? Calls it 'practice' during campaign stop



U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spent most of a 10 minute campaign speech to supporters in Tallahassee urging them to get out to vote in November, scantily mentioning he was even being challenged in a Republican primary eight days from today.

“If you do your part and I do mine, we’ll win in November, we’ll keep the majority in the Senate,” Rubio said.

The majority of the speech was about how, if Republicans do not keep the majority, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would dictate public policy debates and vastly improve the chances that the next Supreme Court appointment will be nothing like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly earlier this year.

Then in the final 30 seconds of his speech, Rubio squeezed in a request for votes in the Aug. 30 primary.

“If you haven’t voted already, I need you to vote in the primary,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to practice.”

After the event, Rubio said he wasn’t saying his opponent or the primary was practice, but that it was practice for getting voters out to the polls.

“We don’t take anything for granted,” Rubio said.

Rubio is running in the Aug. 30 Republican Primary against Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff, who has spent about $10 million of his own money in a bid to win the seat.

Beruff's campaign has repeatedly charged Rubio with avoiding debates and trying to look past the primary.

Rubio also recounted to the 60 people at the Tallahassee event why he decided to run for the Senate again, when he initially said he wouldn’t. He told them he was content on becoming a private citizen after he lost the presidential race, but became increasingly concerned that Democrats would win Florida’s U.S. Senate seat if he did not run.

“If I didn’t run our chances of losing the seat were very high,” Rubio said. “I thought that was too big of a price to pay.”

Rubio said Schumer in that slot worried him on many public policy issues, but singled out the fact that with a Democratic majority, the next Supreme Court justice will be nothing like Scalia.

“For me this was not an acceptable outcome and I could not be at peace going home and knowing I could have done something about it,” Rubio said.

But Rubio warned he’s not expecting an easy re-election, while avoiding mentioning either of his potential Democratic rivals - U.S. Reps Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson - by name.

“Florida is a competitive state,” Rubio said, noting that President Barack Obama won the state by less than 80,000 voters. “No matter what we do it’s going to be close.”

Clinton reserves millions in air time in Florida

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is making massive ad reservations in Florida and other swing states.

Clinton will spend about $3 million for the rest of this month and $77 million in September and October, aides say.

The money will pour into Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina and Omaha, Neb. The campaign feels confident about Colorado and Virginia and is not spending there, a departure from recent presidential elections.

Clinton and her allies have already spent more than $23 million in Florida. Donald Trump last week released his first TV ad, though he's gotten air cover from a super PAC chaired by Gov. Rick Scott.

- by Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Tim Kaine to campaign in Broward, Tallahassee this weekend


Hillary Clinton's running mate Gov. Tim Kaine returns to Florida this weekend for a voter registration event in Tallahassee and then events with small businesses in South Florida.

Kaine will hold a public voter registration event in Tallahassee Friday. On Saturday, he will meet with local mayors and elected officials in Pembroke Pines where Mayor Frank Ortis is a host. He will also go on a small business tour at undisclosed locations in South Florida Saturday. Both South Florida events are closed to the public but open to media.

Kaine will fundraise in Parkland at lawyer Mike Moskowitz's home Friday.

This will be Kaine's second trip to Broward since Clinton announced him as her running mate in Miami. Kaine dropped by Betty's Soul Food restaurant in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month.