July 22, 2014

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


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


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


ELISA: Es una profesión bien dedicada.

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

CHYRON: Regla, Maestra


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


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.'


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


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


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" »

March 20, 2014


BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Broward LGBT activists held a fundraiser March 19 at the home of Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

2014-03-19 Charlie Crist fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale 020After his five-minute speech, which you can watch here, Crist stated why electing him governor would be good for LGBT people in Florida:

"One of the most important things we can do is get a law on the books in Florida that recognizes the kind of things that President Obama is talking about. And that simply is why not have marriage equality throughout our country," Crist said.

"Certainly, we ought to have it in Florida and I believe that we win this election Nov. 4, we get some other progressives elected in the Florida House and Florida Senate, we’re going to have a great opportunity to get that done, and I look forward to the day we do."

Attendees included South Florida Gay News publisher Norm Kent; Florida Agenda publisher Bobby Blair; Ken Keechl, who's seeking to regain his Broward County Commission seat; former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti; and Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Commissioner Levoyd L. Williams, a state House candidate.

Crist’s Democratic rival is former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, a longtime LGBT rights advocate.

To view a photo gallery from the fundraiser, visit Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida blog.

March 11, 2014

Republicans' CD13 win gives Florida Democrats a bad case of déjà vu


It happened again.

Another mid-term election year. Another Democratic loss. Another Republican win.

This time, the scene was the special election in St. Petersburg-based Congressional District 13, where Republican David Jolly carried more than 48.4 percent of the vote to Democrat Alex Sink’s 46.5 percent, according to initial results Tuesday.

Jolly’s 1.9 percentage-point victory came at a crucial time for the Republican Party of Florida. It watched Democrats gain legislative and congressional seats in 2012, when President Obama won the nation’s largest swing state for the second time.

But without Obama on the ticket, something weird happens to the Florida Democratic Party and its candidates in big mid-term elections: They lose swing races. Though this was a special election in a mid-term year, the pattern remains.

"Special elections are not an indicator of the future," U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, the DCCC chair said Wednesday morning, lamenting the close loss. "Special elections are not predictive, they are instructive." 

Continue reading "Republicans' CD13 win gives Florida Democrats a bad case of déjà vu " »

February 26, 2014

Winners in Senate gambling bill were leaders in campaign cash

CoinsThe clear winners in the gambling bill released on Monday by the Senate Gaming Committee -- Genting, Gulfstream Park, Las Vegas Sands and the Seminole Tribe -- have also been among the most generous donors to Republican political funds this election cycle.

Senate Gaming Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said there were "no surprises" in the 453-page SPB 7052, which rewrites most of the state's gambling laws. He had telegraphed that it would include the opportunity for two resort casinos, one each in Miami Dade and the other in Broward.

What was surprising to some is that the bill failed to authorize additional gambling options for South Florida racinos or open the opportunity for race tracks to expand their gambling offerings across the state. That is the position that another big donor to Republicans -- the Seminole Tribe -- has been seeking.

The Senate bill does allow for some reduction in dog racing, a concession to the greyhounds tracks like West Flagler's track in Bonita Springs, which wants to reduce its requirement to offer racing at the rate it was racing in 1996. But the bill didn't give the track owners what they really wanted -- the chance to offer card rooms and slot machines without offering live racing.

There remains a very strong chance that a regulatory bill passes this year with no expanded gambling -- not even a destination resort -- leaving room for the governor to hold all the cards when negotiations take place over a new compact with the Seminole Tribe next year.

Guess who that helps? The biggest contributor of all, Disney Worldwide, which gave (along with its affiliates) a whopping $1.6 million this election cycle -- including $802,000 to the Republican Party of Florida. 

Continue reading "Winners in Senate gambling bill were leaders in campaign cash " »

February 12, 2014

Florida Democrats: Scott shouldn't use official state photos, Florida seal on campaign website

Gov. Rick Scott may wear the state seal on his cowboy boots, but it shouldn’t be popping up on his campaign website, say Florida Democratic Party officials, who argue that Scott isn’t following state laws prohibiting the use of the seal in public campaigns.

The official state seal appears when visitors to the campaign website click on a few videos, including a Feb. 3rd announcement of $80 million in cancer research and another on education funding. According to Florida statutes, “in no event shall approval be given for the use of the Great Seal for the following: (a) Political or campaign purposes.”

Florida Democratic Party’s communications director Joshua Karp says the law is well-known to both parties, but charges that Scott and his team “feel comfortable cutting corners.”

The campaign site, which launched Feb. 8, shows the seal only as part of videos made by the governor’s office “that are publicly available online and they can be used by anyone,” counters Scott’s new deputy communications director, Greg Blair.

Blair said the same goes for another criticism by the Democrats -- that the Scott campaign is using material -- pictures by staff photographers and press releases written by state workers -- paid for with taxpayer dollars on its campaign site. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook” for those, Karp said.

Continue reading "Florida Democrats: Scott shouldn't use official state photos, Florida seal on campaign website" »

January 29, 2014

Charlie Crist might have to raise $165,000/day to stay competitive with Rick Scott


Charlie Crist faces the most-daunting of challenges in the governor's race: keeping at least half-way behind Gov. Rick Scott's money-spending rain-making juggernaut of a campaign effort.

Leading in the polls and better-liked, the former governor knows that the current governor has to greatly outspend Crist to redefine him successfully. So Crist likely needs to hold Scott to no more than a 2:1 advantage.

And since Rick Scott plans to spend as much as $100 million (through his committee, his campaign and the Republican Party of Florida), Crist wants to spend as much as $50 million.

Total cash on hand for Crist, between his campaign and political committee accounts: $3.9 million. Let's call that $4 million. That leaves a mere $46 million for him and Democrats to raise in the 278 days until the Nov. 4 Election Day (assuming he wins the Aug. 26 Democratic primary against Nan Rich, running since early 2012, who has only about $75,000 cash on hand in her campaign account as of the last reporting period that ended Dec. 31.)

So Crist and the Democrats need to start hauling in an average of about $165,467.63 daily. That includes weekends and holidays. 

The flip side to all the challenges Democrats face: Scott's goal looks even more daunting at first. 

Scott has about $24.6 million in his political committee’s bank. So he'd have to raise about $75 million more to hit $100 million. But Scott has the state Republican Party, which controls the Legislature and therefore the special interests seeking to curry favor, cranking up fundraising like never before. And, perhaps more importantly, Scott's independently wealthy.

After all, Scott spent $75.1 million of his own money in 2010.

So what's another $75 million -- especially if special interests pick up more of the tab than ever?