October 02, 2014

George Sheldon joins victims of pelvic mesh implants calling for stricter FDA rules

Pamela Wise, a 41-year-old mother from Starke, and Elizabeth Way, 53, of De Leon Springs, took the podium at a press conference Wednesday and shakily described the suffering they've endured from having pelvic mesh implants, a topic that's been highlighted mostly in sensational TV ads paid for by trial lawyers.   But the problem is real, they said. 

 "People have died and wanted to die because of this pain" Way, a former firefighter who now walks with a cane, said. 

But the press conference also had a political message -- standing by Wise and Way was Democratic candidate for Attorney General, George Sheldon, adding his support while taking a dig at his opponent, Pam Bondi.

The attorney general "should be on the forefront" of an issue that affects so many women, Sheldon said. "This is what an attorney general should do. It's what Bob Butterworth did and what a number of attorney generals have done."

Sheldon's comments echo a common theme of Democrats, who charge Republicans don't support issues vital to women voters.

In an email, Bondi's communications director Jenn Meale responded that: "Since early 2013, Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office has been and remains on four executive committees actively engaged in multi-state investigations into four major surgical mesh companies, CR Bard, Inc., Endo Health Solution, Inc. (d/b/a American Medical Systems), Boston Scientific, and Johnson & Johnson's company Ethicon."

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September 08, 2014

Pam Bondi launches awkward 'Streets' TV ad

@tbtia

Pam Bondi's latest campaign ad touts her efforts to quell prescription drug abuse in dramatic form: suspenseful music, police lights and sirens in the background and stern glances to the camera. But she ends with a grin as the announcer declares:"Pam Bondi, our attorney general."

According to a press release from the campaign, the "Streets" ad will begin running Tuesday in five of Florida's major media markets. You can also see it here and embedded below.

The script:

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August 29, 2014

Andrews asks court to hold governor and attorney general in violation of state Sunshine laws

Tallahassee lawyer Steven R. Andrews expanded his public records complaints against Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday, asking the court to hold the state's top officers in violation of the state's public records laws and seeking relief and attorneys fees. 

Andrews, who successfully sued the governor and Cabinet for violating a contract he had to purchase the build that houses his office near the Florida Governor's Mansion, has engaged in a two-year battle to obtain public records as part of his legal battle.

He now alleges that the governor's office not only withheld documents but engaged in "actively concealing them" and "conspiring with others known and unknown, to conceal public records" from him as well as "dealying the production of public records to interfere with the Petitioner’s prosecution of Andrews v. Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund (“BOT”), Case No. 2012 CA 859." 

Lawyers for the governor and attorney general have repeatedly argued they have turned over all relevant documents and deny the allegations. 

Here's are his complaints.  Download EOG 2014.08.29 MOT FOR LEAVE TO AMD r (1)  Download 2014.AG 08.29 MOT FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMD PETr (1)

August 18, 2014

Council aims to fight human trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime that reaches a broad spectrum of victims -- teenage runaways, the homeless, undocumented workers and even "kids who hang out at the mall every day,"  Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families said Monday at the first meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.

Many victims are also foster care kids who are under state care or have aged out of the state system and have no where to go, Carroll, the council's vice chair, said.

Florida has been ranked third in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which estimates there are 27 million people enslaved worldwide.

"Four years ago, no one wanted to believe this existed," said Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has reached out to truckers, emergency medical workers, business owners, law enforcement and recently Mexican authorities to fight human trafficking. "It has to be stopped."

Now, Bondi, is also counting on a new panel with law enforcement, health care officials, educators, advocates and experts to fight the crime. The 15-member trafficking council, which Bondi chairs, was created during the 2014 legislative session to tackle specific goals in the human trafficking realm, including recommending programs and services to help victims; certifying safe houses and safe foster care homes; recommending ways to better apprehend and prosecute traffickers; and organizing a statewide summit.

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August 12, 2014

Movers & Shakers

Former Junior League president and police chief appointed to human trafficking council 

Lee Lowry, a former president of The Junior League of Tampa, and Philip Thorne, Springfield's police chief, have been picked by Gov.Rick Scott to fill the two remaining seats on the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.

The council, which was created during the legislative session to develop recommendations for programs and services for victims of human trafficking and maximize existing resources, will have its first meeting at 2 p.m. Aug. 18 in Room 214 of the Knott Building at the Capitol. 

The other members of the 15-member council are Attorney General Pam Bondi, the council's chairman; Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, who will serve as vice chairman; State Surgeon General Dr. John ArmstrongElizabeth Dudek, Secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration; Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Interim Secretary Christina Daly; and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart; Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle; Martin County Sheriff William Snyder; Terry Coonan, executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; Dotti Groover-Skipper, chairwoman of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking; Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring; and Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami.

New faces on the Commission on the Status of Women

Nancy Acevedo and Dhyana Ziegler have been appointed to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Acevedo, 65, of Winter Springs, is an intelligence analyst with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Ziegler, 65, of Tallahassee, is the Garth C. Reeves eminent scholar chair of journalism at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

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August 08, 2014

Pam Bondi: Let the U.S. Supreme Court decide gay marriage

@SteveRothaus

Rather than argue Florida's gay-marriage debate at the state Supreme Court, Attorney General Pam Bondi says she'd rather wait until the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue nationally, once and for all.

“Neither this Court nor the Florida Supreme Court can decide this federal issue with finality,” Bondi wrote in a filing late Thursday to the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. “The United States Supreme Court, however, ‘has the final word on the United States Constitution.’”

Bondi told the appeals court she expects the U.S. Supreme Court will act soon on the gay marriage issue. She cited filings this week from the states of Utah and Oklahoma asking their gay-marriage cases be heard by the nation’s highest court.

“A ruling from the United States Supreme Court would end the constitutional debate, end this appeal, and end all related cases,” Bondi wrote. “The State of Florida will respect the United States Supreme Court’s final word. In the meantime, this Court should preserve taxpayer and judicial resources by staying briefing until the United States Supreme Court rules.”

More here.

August 04, 2014

Movers & Shakers

Sen. Grimsley named to new human trafficking council

Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, has been appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, which was established by the legislature this session.

The first meeting of the 15-member council will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 18th in Room 214 of the Knott Building at the Capitol.

Grimsley, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, is the newest addition to the council. Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, was appointed by House Speaker Will Weatherford. The two remaining members will be appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, the council's chairman, appointed Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle; Martin County Sheriff William SnyderTerry Coonan, executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; and Dotti Groover-Skipper, chairwoman of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking to the council.

The other members are Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, who will serve as vice chairman; State Surgeon General Dr. John ArmstrongElizabethDudek, Secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration; Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Interim SecretaryChristina Daly; and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Florida ethics commission elects a new chairman

Linda McKee Robison, the former vice chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics, was elected its chairman at the panel's July 25th meeting.

Robison, who is a partner in the Corporate Transactions Group of Shutts & Bowen, LLP, has served on the commission since 2011.

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July 25, 2014

Bondi calls on emergency medical workers to help fight human trafficking

Attorney General Pam Bondi is turning to emergency medical workers to help fight human trafficking in Florida, which is the third highest ranked state for the crime.

Emergency medical providers are at the “front line to help to identify possible victims of human trafficking,” Beth Brunner, CEO of the Emergency Medicine Learning and Resource Center in Orlando, said in a press release.

But the emergency workers don’t always recognize the signs, according to healthcare officials.

A study from the Family Violence Prevention Fund found that “28 percent of trafficking survivors said they came into contact with a healthcare provider during the trafficking situation, and were not recognized.”

“Medical treatment during an emergency may be one of the few opportunities that emergency medical personnel have a chance to help save a human trafficking victim,” said Bondi, who announced the plan to involve emergency personnel at a press conference in Orlando.

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July 23, 2014

Movers and Shakers

Legislative director leaves

A longtime presence in state government, Darrick McGhee has left his job as director of legislative affairs for Gov. Rick Scott, and will be starting a new position as vice president of government relations for the lobbying firm, Johnson & Blanton, on Aug. 4th.

Darrick is “an outstanding human being, a really good guy,” said Travis Blanton. “He’s very knowledgeable of the (state) agencies because he’s worked in several and he’s very knowledgeable about how Florida government works.”

McGhee’s 17 months as director of legislative affairs included two legislative sessions. His other state posts included interim executive director, and also chief of staff, of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; director of the Office of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs; and director of the Office of Governmental Relations among other positions.

A graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, McGhee is also an ordained minister and pastor of the Bible Based Church in Tallahassee.

New human trafficking council taking shape

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is among the four members appointed to the newly created Statewide Council on Human Trafficking by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi, who will chair the 15-member council, also appointed Martin County Sheriff William SnyderTerry Coonan, executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; and Dotti Groover-Skipper, chairwoman of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking.

The council’s purpose, said Jennifer Meale, communications director for the Attorney General’s office, is to “bring everyone to the table who may be able to assist in the effort to end human trafficking in the state and build on the state and local efforts that are already underway.”

Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, will serve as vice chairman. Also on the council: State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong; Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek; Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Interim Secretary Christina Daly; and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Other members to be announced will be a senator, appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz; one representative, appointed by House Speaker Will Weatherford; and two members appointed by Scott.

The council is expected to start meeting at the end of August.

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June 03, 2014

Bondi: I'm being taken out of context, harm equates to federal meddling

Bruised by an avalanche of negative press over her recent brief defending Florida's ban on gay marriage, Attorney General Pam Bondi released a new statement late Monday.

At issue is this sentence in the brief: "The Court should also deny the preliminary injunction motions because there is no likelihood of success on the merits, there is no immediacy requiring a preliminary injunction and disrupting Florida's existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm."

Not reading beyond the headline, many in the social media sphere have interpreted that to mean that Bondi believes that gay marriage would impose public harm. She says that she meant it would harmful to Florida's law, which she is charged to uphold.

Nowhere in her statement does Bondi say that perhaps her brief could have been better said, or more carefully worded. She says she is defending the law and any interpretation otherwise is an attempt to inflame. Her statement: 

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