May 02, 2016

Starbucks heckler vs Rick Scott led PolitiFact Florida in April 2016


When Gov. Rick Scott walked into a Starbucks in Gainesville, he got an unexpected jolt when a customer attacked his record on spending for health care and Planned Parenthood.

Scott fired back by defending his jobs record.

The exchange, in which heckler Cara Jennings called Scott an "a------" drew more than 2.3 million hits on YouTube, made national news and led our fact-checks in April.

Other statements that drew in readers were by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, who is running for U.S. Senate; and Democratic presidential candidate.

Here’s a look at PolitiFact Florida’s most clicked fact-checks in April counting down to the most popular.


April 20, 2016

Donald Trump's manager Corey Lewandowski botches claim on Florida delegates


Donald Trump’s campaign has been crying foul over the delegate selection in Florida, accusing Republican party insiders of stacking the deck against Trump.

In Miami-Dade County, home of former presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, few of the 15 delegates chosen April 16 appeared to be overt Trump fans.

The next day, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski accused Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, of bias against Trump.

"The chairman of the party of Florida, who is an avid and outward supporter of Marco Rubio, gets to appoint 30 of those delegates," Lewandowski said April 17. "Now, I understand those are the rules, but Donald Trump won. And now, you’ve got a person who is supporting Marco Rubio who gets to appoint 30 of the 99 delegates. That’s not what the rules should be."

We will explain how Lewandowski got his facts wrong about the delegate selection and Ingoglia. We did not get a response from the Trump campaign for this fact-check.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

April 18, 2016

Donald Trump wrongly blames Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush for Florida's winner-take-all primary


Donald Trump has been on a tear accusing the Republican establishment of rigging the system to hurt him, despite the fact that he leads the delegate count in the primaries.

One of the states where leaders are out to get him is Florida, he says. The state’s March 15 primary was "winner-take-all," which means all of the delegates went to one winner, who ended up being Trump.

"You speak about what’s unfair, so in Florida you had 99 delegates," he said in aspeech in Rome, N.Y. "And Jeb Bush had it set -- Jeb Bush or Rubio, both of them. They had it set so that the winner takes everything, because they wanted to make sure that I didn't get anything."

Did Bush and Rubio set the Florida primary for winner-take-all because they wanted to prevent Trump from getting any delegates?

Republican officials did hope a winner-take-all primary would benefit Bush or Rubio, but Trump gets some of his key facts wrong. Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Photo by the Associated Press.

April 13, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott to speak at RNC meeting in Broward


Gov. Rick Scott will speak at the Republican National Committee in Broward County next week.

The RNC will hold it's spring meeting at the swanky oceanside Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood starting Wednesday. The RNC has not yet released a schedule of events but several Florida politicians are expected to attend the event including Republican Party of Florida chairman State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. Scott's political consultant Melissa Sellers confirmed that Scott will speak. 

The RNC committees could discuss rules related to the July presidential convention in Cleveland -- the first potentially brokered convention in decades. 

Republicans will be meeting in the county with the highest number of registered Democratic voters in the state: Broward has about 560,000 registered Democrats.

March 15, 2016

Marco Rubio on whether Florida’s winner-take-all primary was a good idea after all

Rub12 MRubio New PPP


As a state lawmaker, Marco Rubio advocated for Florida’s primary to take place early in the presidential-campaign calendar, to give voters in his big, diverse state the kind of importance now awarded to places like South Carolina and Nevada.

But facing the prospect of one or two Floridians running for the White House, the state GOP and its legislators chose to push the 2016 primary to March 15, the first day Florida could award all 99 of its Republican delegates to a single winner. No better way to help the hometown guy, be it Rubio or Jeb Bush.

Now that primary day is here, things look far different. Bush’s campaign is long over. And Florida’s winner-take-all position could wipe out Rubio’s remaining chances if front-runner Donald Trump wins the state’s political prize.

But Rubio told the Miami Herald he’s at peace with the decision Florida’s GOP leaders made.

“The purpose of moving the primary earlier was, the way presidential elections were being decided in the past was in those first few weeks, and by the time it got to Florida in March, it didn’t matter anymore,” Rubio said in an interview Monday. “Obviously in this race it turns out that it matters, and it matters a lot. So I think from Florida’s perspective, it’s meaningful this year as it’s ever been.”

Wouldn’t a proportional race earlier on have helped him more?

“Well, I mean, hindsight’s 20/20,” the Florida senator said. “But had it been earlier, it would have had eight people running here instead of four, and you would have just seen more votes being divided up between Donald Trump and the people that don’t want Donald Trump. And the people that don’t want Donald Trump would have been divided up among seven people instead of three. So I’m not sure it would’ve worked any differently.”

What about fewer weeks of early voting in person and by mail – would that have benefited Rubio?

“The only difference between this and the general [election] is that if you vote early, you may very well be voting for someone who isn’t even in the race by the time you vote,” Rubio said. “And obviously in Florida that’s the case. But the flip side of it is you want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote. And, you know, my guess is when they finally make up their minds.”

“So I’m not sure that would have had an impact. I mean, obviously, you know, Jeb [Bush] is going to have votes in tomorrow, because he was on the ballot, and he was still in the race when the ballot went out. How many, I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, el Nuevo Herald

February 03, 2016

UPDATED Florida GOP accuses Democrats of pushing out would-be congressional candidate, who says party had nothing to do with it


The Republican Party of Florida accused national Democrats on Wednesday of trying to “manipulate” a Miami-based congressional district primary after a would-be Democratic contender announced he would run for the state Senate instead of Congress.

“The Democrat leadership in Washington has once again worked behind the scenes to manipulate the primary process in Florida’s 26th congressional district by pressuring Andrew Korge not to primary their chosen candidate Annette Taddeo,” the Florida GOP said in a statement.

Korge said nothing of the sort when he made his decision to run for state Senate public earlier Wednesday. He said he would have a bigger impact in Tallahassee than Washington.

“I love my Republican friends – they have a great sense of humor,” Korge said in response. “I appreciate that. Any time they’re making jokes instead of destroying our state, destroying our environment and destroying our schools, that’s better for all of us.”

Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Ben Ray Lujan, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have fundraised for Taddeo and made sure to note that they would prefer to avoid a primary that could bruise their candidate and force her to spend money before against another Democrat instead of against the incumbent Republican, Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

That’s typical party business. But the GOP used Korge’s announcement Wednesday to note that the DCCC once got involved in a shady 2010 race in the same congressional district. The committee sent out mailers to boost a ringer tea-party candidate as a way to hurt the Republican in the race and boost the Democrat.

“Their continuous urge and attempt to decide the election behind closed doors before Floridians get a chance to vote is unacceptable and offensive to our democratic process,” GOP spokesman Wadi Gaitan said.

UPDATE: Here's what DCCC spokesman Jerome House had to say in response: "This sounds like the Congressman Curbelo Democratic Conspiracy Theory, 2.0. Republicans have lost all hope of winning this Democratic-leaning district, and are therefore obsessed with fabricating drama to distract from Carlos Curbelo's record that fails South Floridians."


January 28, 2016

Scott: Don't count Jeb out


Gov. Rick Scott hasn't written off one of his famous predecessor's chances of becoming president.

Scott, in Washington to deliver an address on reforming hospital pricing practices at the American Enterprise Institute, put on his politics hat after the talk.

Scott, governor since 2011, said it's too soon to give up on former Gov. Jeb Bush despite his failure to gain traction in polls.

 "I still think it's early," Scott told the Miami Herald. "I mean, we haven't even done the first primary yet."

Scott said that Bush "was a very successful governor" when he headed the state from 1999 to 2007, noting in particular his education reforms.

"We're at a 12-year high in our K-12 graduation rate," Scott said.

Adding that "Jeb is working hard," Scott said, "The person that works the hardest generally wins."

Despite praising Bush's record in Florida, Scott declined to endorse him. Neither is he endorsing -- yet -- fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, the first-term U.S. senator, nor any of the other Republican presidential hopefuls.

"Like a lot of voters in Florida, I'm watching the candidates," the governor said.

Four days before the Feb.1 Iowa caucuses, Bush tallied just 4 percent in a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of that state's Republican voters released Thursday. He was far behind businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio of Florida, while also trailing neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Bush is faring better in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary Feb. 9, according to a poll released Thursday by Suffolk University. Bush broke out of the single digits with 11 percent, putting him in a second-place tie with Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rubio, with all four men well behind Trump's 27 percent standing.

In addition to Bush, Scott said he has personal relationships with Rubio, along with Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie through the Republican Governors Association.

Scott criticized the Republican National Committee for having scheduled just nine presidential debates this year.

"I wish the national party hadn't limited the number of debates and limited the locations," he said.

The RNC is weighing three additional possible Republican presidential debates.

The March 10 GOP debate will be at the University of Miami, nine days after Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold Republican primaries or caucuses. Florida will hold its primary on March 15.

Scott declined to comment directly on Trump's decision to skip Thursday night's Fox News debate because of his ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, one of its moderators.

"Every candidate's got to think about what's the best forum for them to get their message out, whether it's debates, whether it's town halls," Scott said.


January 22, 2016

What to watch in Tallahassee today

After a busy week in Tallahassee, the Florida Legislature has no meetings scheduled Friday as many Republican leaders will head to Orlando for the two-day annual meeting of the Republican Party of Florida. Here's what to watch on Friday:
* The Florida Department of Health sponsors the “Wear Your Walking or Running Shoes to Work Day," as it ends its Healthy Weight Week. The event is designed to encourage all state agencies and private-sector employers to urge employees to wear their sneakers and get active.  

* The Florida Commission on Ethics meets to take up a series of cases from North Miami, Pensacola, Palm Coast and Tallahassee. 
* The Republican Party of Florida hosts its 2016 annual meeting at the Rosen Centre in Orlando. Governor Rick Scott is not expected to attend. 

January 12, 2016

Florida reaction to Obama's final State of the Union


Here's what Florida politicians had to say about President Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat:

It’s frustrating when partisanship prevents the Congress from getting things done. And it’s pretty clear that Americans are fed up with our inability to enact common-sense reforms. While we were able to get a few things passed back in December, there’s still a lot that we need to accomplish. And I will continue to do everything that I can to try to bring people together in a bipartisan way to get things done.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami:

President Obama's final State of the Union Address will be remembered not for what he said, but for what he didn’t say.

The President has failed yet again to use this opportunity to lay out a comprehensive plan to Congress and the American people on how best to defeat ISIS, and instead has opted to try to lull us into a false sense of security that is belied by the facts on the ground here in the U.S. and across the globe.

It's much the same situation with Iran: the President touted his nuclear deal with Tehran, yet what the President didn't say is that, since the deal, we have seen an increasingly bellicose regime flouting the international community, daring us to take action against its illicit behavior and then threatening to walk away from the nuclear deal if we do respond.


Continue reading "Florida reaction to Obama's final State of the Union" »

January 11, 2016

Florida Republican Party post lowest fundraising total since 2003


The Republican Party of Florida posted its lowest fundraising year since 2003, new campaign finance reports released Monday show.

For the calendar year, the RPOF raised $11.6 million and spent $10.6 million. The amount raised is the lowest the party has raised in a year since 2003, when the party collected $8.6 million in donations, Florida Division of Elections records show.

The low fundraising totals were expected given the party’s tumultuous 2015. The year started with RPOF activist rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s choice to lead the party. Typically, Republican governors in Florida have been given deference to choose who they want to lead the party. The day before the RPOF select state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia to lead the party, Scott pulled out $580,000 he raised for the party. The Florida Senate followed suit, pulling more than $700,000 it helped raise for the party.

Without the governor and state senators helping, the party has struggled to raise the kind of money that it typically raises. From 2011 through 2013, the party average raising $23 million a year. In 2014, when Scott was up for re-election and helping the party, the RPOF raised over $92 million.

Instead of raising money for the party, key political players are raising money in political action committees they run. Scott, for instance, raised about $4.5 million for the year in a political committee he runs called Let's Get to Work. Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam raised about $4 million for a fund he maintains called Florida Grown

While the Republican numbers were low for 2015, they are still way ahead of where the Florida Democratic Party is. State Democrats raised $6.5 million in 2015 and spent $4.5 million according to new campaign finance reports released Monday.