June 02, 2016

Group highlights financial ties between Pam Bondi and opponents of the Clean Power Plan

Pam BondiThe liberal advocacy group, Americans United For Change, is out with a new report highlighting the financial ties between Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and other Republican attorneys general, and the oil, gas and utilities industries as they fight to block enforcement of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.

According to calculations by FollowTheMoney,org, the report says Bondi collected $26,350 from the energy industries in the 2010 and 2014 election cycles. A closer look by the Herald/Times however, shows the figure is much higher - at least $75,000 just for the 2014 cycle. (The figure could potentially be hundreds of thousands more if donations to shadowy pass-through groups were required to be disclosed.)

Bondi joined with 23 other states, including a handful run by Democratic governors, and last year filed a lawsuit against the EPA to block the implementation of a rule by Environmental Protection Agency. The August rule revised the Clean Power Plan to impose the first-ever carbon limits on power plants. It required a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants by 32 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, and is aggressively opposed by the oil, gas and utility industries. 

Bondi and others argued that the EPA rule lays out an "unrealistic" timeframe to cut carbon emissions by 2030 and would "require the use of costly and unproven technologies." (Here are the goals for Florida, according to the EPA.)

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the implementation of the plan in February but the lawsuit continues. Meanwhile, a recent poll by Bloomberg Philanthropies -- run by the former New York mayor who supports the EPA rule -- found that 73 percent of Florida voters support the Clean Power Plan. 

Now, Americans for Change claims that the legal officers who were opposing the rule were doing it not to help their constituents, but to advance the agendas of the utility, oil and gas industry. 

"Republican attorneys general are doing the bidding of their polluter donor friends rather than working on the people of their state,'' said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans for Change in a media call on Thursday. The group says Republican AGs collectively received $4.7 million from opponents of the Clean Power Plan. "If you ask me, that's pretty damning."

Update June 8: The information provided by Americans United for Change did not list which companies they consider opponents of the Clean Power Plan. A 2015 blog by the National Resources Defense Council indicated that some of the constructive comments to the Environmental Protection Agency about the rule were from power companies such as the parent of Florida Power & Light, NextEra Energy which showed they are "constructively engaged regarding the EPA's Clean Power Plan proposal."

"NextEra "supports the Clean Power Plan as a reasonable and balanced approach to reducing CO2 emissions from the electric generating sector that is consistent with the CAA and EPA's implementing regulations,'' the blog quotes NextEra as saying.

NextEra, which as one of the nation's largest wind and solar energy providers, sees business opportunities in the Clean Power Plan and  actually filed a motion to intervene in the case in support of the EPA rule.  "NextEra has and will continue to develop significant renewable power generation facilities that will be directly impacted by the outcome of the Final Rule,'' the NextERa motion stated.

"NextEra is deeply concerned about the impact that a negative ruling on the EPA Clean Power Plan could have on the company....If petitioners were to prevail in the case the benefits to NextEra likely to follow from the Clean Power Plan will be reduced or eliminated." 

Does that mean NextEra does not support Bondi's attempt to block the rule? The Herald/Times asked NextEra spokesman Rob Gould: Is NextEra opposed to Bondi's opposition to the Clean Power Plan and the timeline for compliance with the emission reductions?

His answer: "We really have nothing to offer."

Some of the organizations NextEra and FPL are large contributors to have been actively working to defeat the Clean Power Plan. In Jan. 2016, the U.S. Chamber's Litigation Center joined other business groups and filed a lawsuit similar to the one filed by the states to stay the Clean Power Plan. The lawsuit came six months after FPL President Eric Silagy was elected a member of the U.S Chamber Board of Directors

Gould said that the company is committed to expanding renewable energy options. "As the largest generator of wind and solar power in the world, NextEra Energy has long supported efforts to encourage investment in affordable clean energy."

Some of the company's investments, however, have gone to people and organizations who don't agree that the Clean Power Plan is a means to the clean energy goal.

In 2014, FPL was a contributor to Bondi's political committee, Justice for All, giving her $50,000 from Florida Power & Light.

Continue reading "Group highlights financial ties between Pam Bondi and opponents of the Clean Power Plan" »

May 18, 2016

Florida lawmaker wants AG opinion on feds’ transgender bathroom rules; Pam Bondi declines

Adkins_2015@ByKristenMClark

An outgoing conservative lawmaker in Florida who is running for Nassau County schools superintendent wants state Attorney General Pam Bondi to issue an official opinion on what she believes to be the "constitutional encroach" of the Obama administration's new guidance to public schools over transgender students' bathroom access.

State Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, called the president's new policy a "clear violation" of states' rights under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"It is clear that the Obama administration is once again circumventing the Congress and even its own federal rule-making process to impose new federal rules and laws on Florida’s public schools," Adkins said in a statement this morning.

MORE: Read Rep. Adkins' letter to Bondi

But Bondi’s office isn’t wading into the issue. Deputy Attorney General Kent J. Perez wrote in a response to Adkins on Wednesday afternoon: “We do not issue legal opinions on federal law.”

On Friday, the U.S. departments of Education and Justice sent letters of guidance to all public schools nationwide informing them that they must treat students in ways that match their gender identities -- or risk losing federal money under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in educational programs based on sex.

Republican leaders in Florida have been reluctant to comment so far on the new guidelines. But Adkins, the outgoing chairwoman of the House K-12 Education Subcommittee, wants a swifter response: For the state to challenge the Obama administration's directive.

Read the full story here.

Published 10:49 a.m.; Updated 4:30 p.m.

May 05, 2016

Add one more name to Donald Trump's potential VP list: Pam Bondi

IMG_AP_961322372906_5_1_4D7HAN73_L204553757

@PatriciaMazzei

The chatter among Florida politicians since Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been less about Trump possibly naming Gov. Rick Scott his running mate and more about another potential pick: Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi's name hasn't made it on the many speculative lists of Trump No. 2's. But if Trump is looking for someone on the ticket to help shore up Florida support, perhaps she should be included.

Consider: Unlike Scott, Bondi endorsed Trump ahead (just barely) of the Florida primary. Unlike Scott, she's obviously comfortable on television. Unlike Scott, she has a years-long personal friendship with Trump.

Scott has the higher office and is much better known (if not very popular). He has also said, as recently as Wednesday night on CNN, that he's not interested in running with Trump.

For his part, Trump has insisted he wants to run with a seasoned politician who can help the celebrity businessman navigate Washington and legislative politics. As an attorney general and former prosecutor, Bondi wouldn't bring any of that experience, though she has had to work with state lawmakers in Tallahassee.

Bondi also seems to have more friends than Trump among Florida's Republican establishment. But she also upset many of those folks when she backed Trump, especially because his foundation had given her political committee a $25,000 donation when she ran for re-election -- and her office later didn't investigate claims against Trump University.

Cue more chatter.

UPDATE: Bondi's Tampa-based political consultant, Adam Goodman, went on Fox News on Thursday suggesting her as a VP choice.

Photo credit: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

An earlier version of this post misstated the dollar amount of the donation from Trump's foundation to Bondi's campaign.

April 05, 2016

AG Pam Bondi helps kick off annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

Bondi_0405

@ByKristenMClark

Bondi2_0405Joined by more than 300 law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes, Attorney General Pam Bondi helped mark the start of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run today in the courtyard of the Florida Capitol.

About 8,000 law enforcement officers from across the state will take part in the 1,500-mile run that will wind through Florida over the next several weeks.

The torch will reach its home in Lake Buena Vista in time for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics' Florida State Summer Games, which start May 20 at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports.

It's the 33rd year for the torch run.

"These children with intellectual disabilities are so inspired and they know that they can do anything, and this gives them hope," Bondi said. "It gives them courage, it gives them skills and it gives them confidence -- and that's why it's so important to us and our state."

The event has special meaning for Bondi, whose 11-year-old niece, Emma, has Down Syndrome. Bondi said Emma is too young to participate yet, but she hopes Emma will join her at the Olympics' opening ceremonies.

Bondi said more than 33,000 athletes, participating in 400 competitions annually, compete in Florida's Special Olympics.

Events for the torch run are planned in each of Florida's 67 counties. The full schedule is available here.

April 01, 2016

Federal judge affirms gay marriage ban is unconstitutional after Florida officials resist compliance

@ByKristenMClark

Although gay marriage has been legal in Florida for more than a year and the law nationwide since last summer, a U.S. District Court judge ruled definitively this week that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle said that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and the state Legislature need to recognize that and also start treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples in all aspects of law.

Hinkle wrote that he was compelled to grant summary judgment in a long-standing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban because state officials have shown little, if any, inclination to accept and follow last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the implications of it.

“After the United States Supreme Court issued [its ruling], one might have expected immediate, unequivocal acceptance,” Hinkle wrote. “Not so for the State of Florida.”

More here.

March 17, 2016

Pam Bondi: I am not running for governor

@JeremySWallace

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi left no doubt on Thursday that she is not interested in running for governor in 2018.

Moments after Fox News host Neil Cavuto introduced her as "frontrunner, maybe" for governor in 2018, Bondi, a Republican from Tampa, was quick to shoot down the idea.

"I will say on the record, I am not running for governor," Bondi told Cavuto 19 seconds into the more than 8 minute long interview. "I’m supporting Adam Putnam who I feel, he is our Agricultural Commissioner, and I think he’ll be a great governor for our state.."

Though Putnam, a Polk County Republican, has been widely speculated as being interested in running for governor, Putnam has not declared for the race and has sidestepped questions about whether he is running.

Despite Bondi's assurance she is not running in 2018, Cavuto wasn't done suggesting Bondi could still do it.

"I’ve looked at polls that indicate otherwise, but you could be right," Cavuto said on his program called Your World with Neil Cavuto.

Cavuto then closed the interview by saying "so far she says not governor, we'll see."

While Putnam has been building up his fundraising in a political action committee he runs for most of the last year, raising over $4 million in 12 months, Bondi has done little in her political action committee. In her fund, called Justice For All, Bondi has raised just $53,000 since Sept. 1, 2015.

March 14, 2016

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi backs Donald Trump

via @learyreports

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi today endorsed Donald Trump at his Tampa rally. "Donald and I have been friends for many years," Bondi said. "I have seen how he interacts with his children."

Trump called Bondi the "most popular person in Florida, by far."

There was talk for days that Bondi would get behind the GOP front-runner and Bondi had previously endorsed Jeb Bush.

The endorsement will revive questions Bondi faced in 2013 over campaign contributions she got from Trump after declining to join an investigation into Trump University, his real estate school that has faced numerous complaints.

As the Herald/Times reported on the $25,000 contribution:

Continue reading "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi backs Donald Trump" »

February 13, 2016

Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death

@PatriciaMazzei

Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Jeb Bush

Today we lost a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off. This afternoon at Mass, Columba and I prayed for Justice Scalia, who was devout in faith and has been brought home to God in heaven. Our prayers are also with his wife, Maureen, his children and his 28 grandchildren.

Justice Scalia was a brilliant defender of the rule of law--his logic and wit were unparalleled, and his decisions were models of clarity and good sense. I often said he was my favorite justice, because he took the Constitution, and the responsibility of judges to interpret it correctly, with the utmost seriousness. Now it is up to all of us to fight for the principles Justice Scalia espoused and carry forth his legacy.

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

I am stunned since Justice Scalia seemed to be in the prime of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. And I take very seriously our constitutional responsibility to fill this vacancy.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death" »

February 04, 2016

Capitol Buzz: Five things to watch today in Tallahassee

Legislative committees continue meeting in Tallahassee, while the state's top officials go to the fair. Here's what we're watching:

* They won't have an official cabinet meeting, but Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi will still be at the Florida State Fair in Tampa to help kick off the festivities. The governor will host a luncheon there at noon.

* At 9 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will again take up the proposed "Pastor Protection Act," which allows clergy to turn away gay couples seeking to marry. The committee's vote was postponed last week.

* The House State Affairs Committee could vote to send to the House floor a proposal that changes the legal language of Florida's absentee voting to "vote-by-mail." That panel also meets at 9 a.m.

* The Senate Transportation Committee, also gathering at 9 a.m., will give a first hearing to a bill by Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, and Anitere Flores of Miami, which aims to outlaw the use of red-light camera devices in Florida.

* A bill dealing with cremation fees that counties charge is set for its final committee hearing in the House. The Regulatory Affairs Committee meets at 1 p.m.

December 29, 2015

Oranges vs. apples: Florida AG Pam Bondi bets Gators beat Wolverines

@ByKristenMClark

The attorneys general of Florida and Michigan have made a friendly wager on the outcome of this year's Citrus Bowl.

The high stakes: Fresh fruit.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she's betting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette a crate of -- what else? -- Florida oranges that the Florida Gators will beat the Michigan Wolverines in the New Year's Day college football game.

In turn, Schuette has wagered a bushel of Michigan apples that the Wolverines will leave Orlando 'victor'-ious on Friday.

“Beating the Michigan Wolverines will be as easy as apple pie, which I plan to enjoy after watching my Florida Gators win the Citrus Bowl,” Bondi -- a Florida alumna -- taunted Schuette in a statement.

Schuette teased back: “The University of Michigan will certainly prove to be victors over the Gators. I’m looking forward to having freshly squeezed orange juice on the table in Midland, (Mich.) next week.”

If the Gators win, Schuette will send the apples to Bondi's office, and if the Wolverines win, Bondi will send the orange's to Schuette's.

Kick-off for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl is at 1 p.m. Friday.