September 05, 2014

FL GOP tries linking Charlie Crist to Wasserman Schultz' hair-pulling controversy

@MarcACaputo

Sharp-tongued DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz got too trenchant in Wisconsin this week when she criticized that state's governor, saying he and other conservatives gave "women the back of his hand" and "are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back​."

Oops.

Democrats have distanced themselves from the Broward congresswoman's comments. Local papers condemned them. And Republicans are trying to make sure they're not forgotten.

Cue this Republican Party of Florida email that just dropped:

As President Obama’s top apologist, it’s no surprise that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is all in for Obama’s favorite liberal – Charlie Crist – as one of his top surrogates.

On Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz stepped over the line with comments about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker & fellow Republican governors saying he “…has given women the back of his hand…” & “…they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.” The remarks have been roundly criticized by the media, Republicans and Democrats.

Ask Charlie Crist if he condemns these offensive remarks or if he agrees with using the plight of abuse victims to score cheap political points.

But as the candidate of TALK over ACTION, it’s likely that Charlie will fail to ACT on Debbie’s offensive TALK.

August 25, 2014

Fact-check of RPOF's ad about Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein buying Charlie Crist's judicial picks

Florida’s famous Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein now lives in a federal prison, but Republicans hope that he can help smear the reputation of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Back when Crist was a Republican, Rothstein and his Fort Lauderdale law firm donated generously to Crist and the Republican Party of Florida, as well as several other politicians.

In 2010, Rothstein was convicted in a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Rothstein’s testimony in a related case provided fodder now being used by Republicans to attack Crist in a TV ad.

"Convicted swindler Scott Rothstein bought expensive things with stolen money. He even bought a governor," says the narrator. "Rothstein boasted about contributing huge sums of money to the campaign of then Gov. Charlie Crist and the influence it gave him over judicial appointments. Now cooperating with prosecutors, Scott Rothstein admits he gave hundreds of thousands of campaign cash to control Crist’s appointments of key state judges."

Florida newspapers have extensively covered Rothstein’s case over the years. We wanted to know if the facts matched up with the ad’s brief description. To do that, we reviewed everything we could find on the case and conducted new interviews of people who had dealings with Rothstein on judicial appointments.

What we found doesn’t reflect well on Crist, who took Rothstein’s money and placed him on a key commission that selected judges.

But we also failed to find hard evidence that Rothstein actually controlled Crist’s judicial appointments as the ad claims. Those who served on a judicial nominating commission with him painted a portrait of someone who was all style but not much substance. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our rating and the full fact-check.

August 22, 2014

RPOF's Pants on Fire claim about Obamacare

Health insurers want to raise rates in 2015, Florida’s regulatory agency is largely powerless to stop it, and the Republican Party of Florida wants you to believe it’s all the federal government’s fault.

By extension, the state GOP implies Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is worth some blame, too, since he’s come out in support of the law. During aFacebook Q&A on Aug. 6, someone asked Crist if he planned on reinstating the state insurance commissioner’s power to renegotiate 2015 rates in time to affect how much those rates cost.

"Absolutely," Crist replied. "The fact that we have a law on the books under Rick Scott that says the Office of Insurance Regulation can't regulate insurance is astounding. We deserve better, you deserve better."

But the state Republican Party was quick to contradict Crist, making the first comment on that response.

"Wrong, Charlie," the GOP’s Facebook account wrote. "It's Obamacare that prevents OIR (the Office of Insurance Regulation) from regulating insurance … a law that you think is great even though premiums will go up by double digits for Floridians."

So who’s right? Does Obamacare keep Florida’s insurance regulator from regulating insurance? We’re not going to make you fill out dozens of forms in triplicate to find out, because we’ve got you covered.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check at PolitiFact Florida.

August 20, 2014

Yawn. RPOF files another Crist-billboard complaint

@adamsmithtimes

Cristbillboard2

 

The Republican Party of Florida filed a complaint with the the Florida Elections Commission against the Charlie Crist campaign this week for allegedly failing to include the mandatory prominent disclaimers  that tell people who is paying for the ad. Yawn. Seemed like yet another petty complaint that nobody other than a couple campaign workers actually cares about.

This is the second Crist-billboard complaint RPOF has filed. The previous one was thrown out.

To us, the real scandal would be if the Charlie Crist campaign spent money to erect big billboards near his hometown where his name ID already is 99 percent. Turns out, the billboard were in-kind donations from W.S. Media Inc. of Sarasota, an outfit connected with chiropractor and longtime Crist ally Gary Kompothecras and Jay Burmer, another longtime Crist friend and political operative who works with Mr. 800-Ask-Gary.

The Crist campaign of course scoffed at the complaint and sent an image of their billboard clearly showing the disclaimer. That should put the matter to rest, except that the image released by the Crist campaign is nonsense. In reality, the billboard's disclaimer is virtually invisible. 

Does it matter? Not a bit to normal voters. It might to the Florida Elections Commission, however.

August 15, 2014

False ad by RPOF pins blame on Crist for Duke fiasco

Failed nuclear projects by utility provider Duke Energy have suddenly electrified both sides of this year’s gubernatorial campaign.

After environmentalist PAC NextGen Climateran an ad accusing Gov. Rick Scott of not doing anything to stop the North Carolina company from fleecing consumers, the Republican Party of Florida responded withits own commercial pointing fingers at former Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Crist made it easier for Duke to take your money," the narrator of the Aug. 12, 2014, ad says. "Crist signed a law helping Duke get billions, while Rick Scott put a stop to the Crist giveaway."

PolitiFact Florida already reviewed whether Scott allowed Duke to take ratepayers’ money; we found the claim Half True largely because Scott didn’t say much of anything about the issue. But did Crist have anything to do with the company taking money for doomed nuclear power plant plans? We’ll check this bill line by line. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our fact-check.

This fact-check was written by Joshua Gillin.

July 22, 2014

RPOF's new ad trifecta: Spanish-speaking women teachers praise Rick Scott over education

@MarcACaputo

The Republican Party of Florida's newest ad is straight out of public-opinion polling heaven, featuring Spanish-speaking female teachers who laud Gov. Rick Scott's education record and the teacher raises he secured.

“Florida students are better off due to Scott,” says one of the women in the ad, identified only as a teacher named “Betty.”

The GOP announced the $300,000 ad buy, which includes online and TV spots, just days after Crist tapped the Spanish-speaking head of Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party, Annette Taddeo. 

Though polls indicate Scott is competitive with Crist in courting the Hispanic vote, the Democrat bests him in support from women, who comprise a bigger segment of the likely-voter electorate.

 Scott's lieutenant governor and running mate, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is also Hispanic and hails from Miami-Dade. And the governor invested early in Spanish-language ads, running about $1 million worth, mostly in Miami’s media market. RPOF has announced three Spanish-language and two English-language ads and has spent at least $1 million.

Gender and ethnicity aside, both campaigns are focusing heavily on education.

Crist is making much of Scott's mammoth $1.3 billion cuts to the state's education budget his first year in office helped tank his then-weak poll numbers, which have taken years to recover. PolitiFact found that per-pupil spending under Crist has exceeded Scott's figure when adjusted for inflation.

But the teachers identified in Scott’s ads say the governor isn’t getting credit for the $480 million in teacher bonuses he pushed for and the $18.9 billion education budget he signed.

"In the last two years I’ve seen that the resources for the classroom have greatly improved,” another teacher named “Maritza” adds. “There is more technology in the classroom.”

A third woman, identified as “Elisa” then says “they can repeat all the falsehoods they want, the facts don’t lie.”

The supposed “falsehoods” and who “they” are isn’t clear, however the Republican Party press release accompanying the announcement of the $300,000 online and TV ad buy attributes two misleading statements to Leslie Dougher, the state GOP chair.

Dougher’s statement claims that, under Democrat Charlie Crist, “state education funding was slashed by nearly $1.4 billion, funding was cut for voluntary pre-kindergarten programs, and 3,000 Florida teachers were laid off.”

In a previous fact check of another Scott ad, PolitiFact Florida rated the 3,000-teacher-layoff claim “mostly false,” partly due to the reliance on unverified and anecdotal data.

As for the $1.4 billion “slashed” under Crist, Dougher fails to point out that Crist pushed a recalcitrant GOP-led Legislation to accept roughly $1.7 billion in federal stimulus money over two years. Factoring in the stimulus money and education spending was reduced overall by $524 million during Crist’s term as governor, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Also unmentioned: the federal stimulus money is credited, in state studies for helping preserve 19,000 jobs of school-board employees throughout the state.

Ironically, Scott bashed the stimulus as wasteful but then blamed the Obama Administration for not sending Florida more money when the federal money ran out, leading to the $1.3 billion in education cuts that Crist now blasts Scott for.

The Ad:

CHYRON: Maritza, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Maritza, Teacher

MARITZA: Me gusta ser maestra de educación especial porque mucha gente no ven el potencial de esos estudiantes.

MARITZA TRANSLATED: I like being a special education teacher because many people don’t see the potential of those students.

CHYRON: Elisa, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Elisa, Teacher

ELISA: Es una profesión bien dedicada.

ELISA TRANSLATED: It’s a profession of great dedication.

CHYRON: Regla, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Regla, Teacher

REGLA: Muchas personas no sabe que Rick Scott logro el aumento de sueldo de maestras.

REGLA TRANSLATED: Many people don’t know that Rick Scott achieved an increase in pay for teachers.

MARTIZA: En los últimos dos años he visto que los recursos en la clase han mejorado mucho. Hay mas tecnologia para la clase.

MARITZA TRANSLATED: In the last two years I’ve seen that the resources for the classroom have greatly improved. There is more technology in the classroom.

ELISA: Con Rick Scott han aumentado los fondos para la educación pre-escolar y para mí eso es muy importante.

ELISA TRANSLATED: With Rick Scott there are more funds for pre-school education and that’s very important to me.

CHYRON: Betty, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Betty, Teacher

BETTY: Los estudiantes de la Florida están mejor debido a Scott.

BETTY TRANSLATED: Florida students are better off due to Scott.

ELISA: Pueden repetir todas la falsedades que quieran pero los hechos no mienten.

ELISA TRANSLATED: They can repeat all the falsehoods they want, the facts don’t lie.

CHYRON: Anuncio político pagado por el Partido Republicano de la Florida, 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida32301. El Partido Republicano de la Florida apoya y le pide a usted que vote por Rick Scott para Gobernador, Jeanette Nunez para Representante Estatal Distrito 119, y José Félix Díaz para Representante Estatal Distrito 116.

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Paid political advertisement paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL32301. The Republican Party of Florida endorses and urges you to vote for Rick Scott for Governor, Jeanette Nunez for State Representative District 119, and Jose Felix Diaz for State Representative District 116.

May 22, 2014

The former Rick Scott, FL GOP vendor that went to Cuba '...and can't wait to go back.'

@MarcACaputo

After Democrat Charlie Crist said he wanted to go to Cuba, Gov. Rick Scott condemned the move.

“When spends money there, he’s helping the Castro regime,” Scott said recently in Miami.

But more people, business leaders and politicians are heading to Cuba these days – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a consulting company that, over the past decade, has done $368,000 worth of web services for Scott, top Republican lawmakers and the Republican Party of Florida over the past decade. 

“It was the trip of a lifetime, and we can’t wait to go back,” Sandi Poreda, senior public relations specialist at Taproot Creative wrote on its blog May 8, the day after Scott criticized his opponent's Cuba-travel plans.

Continue reading "The former Rick Scott, FL GOP vendor that went to Cuba '...and can't wait to go back.'" »

May 09, 2014

Why Leslie Dougher's endorsements email shows she'll be RPOF Chair

@MarcACaputo

With the backing of Gov. Rick Scott, Clay County's Leslie Dougher already was the frontrunner for Republican Party of Florida chair. Then House Speaker Will Weatherford said he wouldn't run and threw his support behind her. Now look at the "grassroots" endorsements in the following email she sent:

Continue reading "Why Leslie Dougher's endorsements email shows she'll be RPOF Chair" »

April 09, 2014

Truth-O-Meter tackles Medicare Advantage attacks

Gov. Rick Scott, like many other Republicans, has pinned part of his re-election strategy on criticizing the Affordable Care Act. He’s attacked President Barack Obama’s signature legislation time and again in campaign ads, especially the law’s effects on Medicare. The ads claim that rate cuts will drastically alter seniors’ access to the doctors and care they want.

But the ads aren’t  telling the whole story. The Scott ads are about changes to Medicare Advantage, in which private companies administer insurance plans for Medicare-eligible recipients. That’s not the same as what’s referred to as traditional Medicare, which is what most people think of when they hear the name of the program.

Confused? That’s probably the point. But don’t worry, PolitiFact is here to help. We’ll iron out the differences between the two programs, and why distinctions should be made when referring to Medicare. Read PolitiFact's full report for fact-checks on claims by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida.

March 21, 2014

Campaign shakeup: Rick Scott's fundraising chief quits amid disagreements

@MarcACaputo

In a campaign shakeup, Gov. Rick Scott’s top fundraiser — billionaire healthcare CEO Mike Fernandez — abruptly quit his post late Thursday after weeks of behind-the-scenes disagreements.

Fernandez said he was quitting to spend more time with his family and businesses. And he praised Scott's campaign in a letter to the campaign's leadership team.

"Together, we have helped the Governor raise more than $35 million. This has been an unprecedented effort, which is only matched by our shared commitment to reelect our Governor this November," Fernandez's letter said.

Continue reading "Campaign shakeup: Rick Scott's fundraising chief quits amid disagreements" »