November 03, 2015

Some of Marco Rubio's expenses on Florida GOP credit card remain secret

via @learyreports

It has become legend in Florida political circles, a missing chapter in Marco Rubio’s convoluted financial story: two years of credit card transactions from his time in the state House, when he and other Republican leaders freely spent party money.

Details about the spending, which included repairs for Rubio’s family minivan, emerged in his 2010 U.S. Senate race. But voters got only half the story because the candidate refused to disclose additional records.

Now Sen. Rubio’s past is under fresh scrutiny as he emerges as a top presidential prospect. During last week’s debate he deflected questions about his financial discipline — most recently, he liquidated a retirement account — but those questions will only intensify.

“For years I’ve been hearing that his credit cards are a disaster,” Donald Trump said Tuesday during a news conference in New York City.

“It’s fair game,” Jeb Bush said as he campaigned in New Hampshire, noting the party never gave him a credit card.

The Tampa Bay Times asked Rubio’s team for the records in June and again in early October.

A top strategist, Todd Harris, said Tuesday they would be released soon, possibly within the month, but declined to answer questions about what they might contain.

More here.

October 30, 2015

Florida GOP says its Dick Cheney dinner kicking off presidential summit is sold out

@PatriciaMazzei   

The Republican Party of Florida said Friday that the dinner to inaugurate its big presidential summit next month is sold out, with more than 950 people buying tickets to attend.

The Nov. 12 Statesman Dinner will feature former Vice President Dick Cheney. It will be held in Orlando for the Sunshine Summit, a two-day showcase for 12 GOP presidential contenders.

"This is an exciting time as Republicans across Florida come together for our Party's Annual Statesman dinner," RPOF said in a statement. "The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to continue building the resources and grassroots organization needed to make 2016 successful for Republicans."

October 22, 2015

Marco Rubio gets 1st speaking slot at Florida GOP summit

@PatriciaMazzei

Twelve Republican presidential candidates will speak over two days in Orlando next month -- and the first day will start with Marco Rubio and end with Donald Trump.

That's according to a speaking order the Republican Party of Florida published Thursday for its Sunshine Summit.

Friday, November 13, 2015:

11:30am          U.S. Senator Marco Rubio Remarks 

12:30pm          U.S. Senator Ted Cruz  Remarks                       

1:00 pm           U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Remarks 

2:00 pm           Governor Mike Huckabee Remarks 

4:00 pm           Governor Jeb Bush Remarks 

5:30 pm           Donald Trump Remarks

Saturday, November 14, 2015: 

11:00am          Senator Rick Santorum  Remarks                       

1:00 pm           Governor Bobby Jindal Remarks 

1:30 pm           Senator Rand Paul Remarks 

2:00 pm           Governor Chris Christie Remarks

2:30 pm           Governor John Kasich Remarks     

4:00 pm           Carly Fiorina Remarks

Here's the rest of the schedule so far.

October 14, 2015

RPOF continues slump, raises $2.2 million for quarter

For the second consecutive quarter, fundraising for the Republican Party of Florida continued to slump as infighting within the legislative ranks led senators and Gov. Rick Scott to continue to steer donors to separate political committees.

The party, now controlled primarily by House leaders led by incoming House speaker Richard Corcoran, raised a meager $2.2 million in July through September, up from the $1.9 million in the last quarter – the lowest level in six years, but down from the $5.1 million raised during the comparable third quarter two years ago.

RPOF expenditures for the quarter were $1.6 million, including $335,000 to reimburse Corcoran operative Michael J. Blair  for undisclosed expenditures. As the speaker-designate of the Florida House, Corcoran heads the re-election efforts for House Republicans for 2016. 

The Florida Democratic Party raised $638,000 for the third quarter, by contrast, and spent $484,000.

Senate Republicans collectively raised significantly more cash, receiving $2 million for their Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee for the quarter while the front-runners for Senate president -- Sens. Joe Negron and Jack Latvala, collectively raised more than $1 million more. 

The rivalry between Negron and Latvala, however, is exacerbated by the feud between the House and the Senate that prompted Senate leaders to operate their fundraising separately from the party.

The warring began in January when Senate Republicans pulled $580,000 they had raised for the party from the RPOF accounts after state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill took over as party chairman. The simmering tensions between the two Republican-led chambers also led to a stalemate over Medicaid expansion in the regular session and a divisive special session on redistricting in August. 

Here are the top third quarter contributors to the RPOF, as well as September totals of the top legislative committees:

Continue reading "RPOF continues slump, raises $2.2 million for quarter " »

October 09, 2015

October 05, 2015

Chris Christie, Rand Paul to attend Florida Sunshine Summit

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida announced Monday that two more presidential contenders will attend a November conference.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul confirmed their attendance, bringing to eight the number of GOP candidates who have said they'll be at the two-day Sunshine Summit in Orlando. 

"As our list of participating candidates continues to grow, we are excited to welcome Gov. Christie and Sen. Paul to the Sunshine Summit in Orlando," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. "With eight candidates announced to attend, and more to come, the Sunshine Summit is turning out to be the can't-miss event of the primary election."

The other candidates who have RSVP'ed are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and developer Donald Trump.

October 01, 2015

2 more Republican presidential candidates will attend Florida cattle call

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida said Thursday two more 2016 presidential candidates will attend the party's Sunshine Summit in Orlando next month.

Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have been added to the schedule, RPOF said in a statement. The party announced earlier this week that Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio have also said they'll be there.

The Florida GOP is trying to draw attention to the nation's largest swing state, which doesn't hold its winner-take-all-delegates primary until March 15. Some candidates have been reluctant to campaign here in earnest because Rubio and Bush have monopolized most Florida Republicans' attention.

"The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to hear the candidates share their vision for the future of our nation," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement.

By attending, the candidates avoid penalties that the RPOF was threatening to impose. New rules adopted recently  by the RPOF require candidates either to show up at the Nov. 13-14 Summit at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, write a $25,000 check to the state party, or gather 3,375 signatures from Florida Republicans in order for the party to place their names on Florida's presidential primary ballot in March.

It is all meant to boost attendance at the newly created Summit, which lacks a debate or straw poll that have been big draws at past state party-organized rallies during past presidential election cycles. The RPOF earlier this year announced it was changing the name of its event from what would have been Presidency 6 to the Sunshine Summit.

Without a debate or straw poll, the RPOF has turned the event into a more conference-like structure like the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, where speakers addresses crowds separately over a period of days and hold breakout sessions and other events with their supporters.

--with Jeremy Wallace

September 29, 2015

Four presidential candidates have said yes so far to Florida GOP summit

via @adamsmithtimes

Florida Republican Party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia confirms that Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Bobby Jindal have committed to attend the party's Nov. 13-14 Sunshine Summit in Orlando.

"Their participation will help fire up Florida Republicans as we come together before 2016. The Sunshine Summit is a unique event where candidates will share their vision for the future of our nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one of the most influential primary and general election swing states. We look forward to announcing additional participating candidates as we draw closer to our event,” said GOP Chairman Ingoglia.

More names are likely to be announced later this week, but for those keeping score here's who so far has NOT Committed to attending: Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. Under newly enacted Florida GOP rules, no candidate will be placed on Florida's March 15 Republican presidential primary unless they either attend the summit, stroke a $25,000 check to the state party or gather signatures from 3,375 registered Republican voters including at least 125 registered Republican voters from each of Florida’s 27 Congressional Districts.

Continue reading "Four presidential candidates have said yes so far to Florida GOP summit" »

September 16, 2015

Nelson Diaz: RPOF should use ballot to get GOP presidential candidates to 'take us seriously'

Nelson DiazWith the shadow of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush hovering over the state, the Republican Party of Florida has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the GOP primary.

Presidential candidates "are just not taking us seriously,'' said Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Miami Dade Republican Party, noting that few have visited the state except for fundraising and a handful are not willing to commit to the Presidential Summit scheduled in Orlando Nov. 13 and 14. 

Diaz is among a growing faction of the state's Republican leadership who are promoting the idea of excluding from the March 15 presidential primary ballot anyone who refuses to show up in Florida, or take part in the summit. Federal election law allows the parties to control the rules and the slate of candidates that appear on the primary ballot and, Diaz notes, there is no stopping the RPOF from writing some rules of entry. 

"Florida and two other states are arguably two of the most important states in the country,'' Diaz told the Herald/Times. "Any of these candidates could become the nominee of they win in Florida. But if they ignore us, they become a weaker general election candidate and that makes our jobs harder."

The issues was the subject of a telephone conference call Tuesday night, as reported by Politico, and will be voted on formally at a teleconference next week. 

Continue reading "Nelson Diaz: RPOF should use ballot to get GOP presidential candidates to 'take us seriously'" »

August 04, 2015

Florida GOP reschedules 'Sunshine Summit' for after redistricting special session

via @learyreports

Presidential candidates are being summoned to a November "Sunshine Summit" put on by the Republican Party of Florida.

The event, which will not feature a straw poll, had been scheduled for October. But organizers had a mess on their hands because the Legislature is going into special session Oct. 19-Nov. 6 to redraw state Senate districts. RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is also a state representative and lawmakers are prohibited from fundraising during session.

Now, the summit will be held Nov. 13-14 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Former Vice President Dick Cheney will headline a dinner on Nov. 12, the party announced.

"The Sunshine Summit is a unique opportunity and event where presidential candidates will share their vision for the nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one-of-most influential primary and general election swing states," Ingoglia said.

Organizers had already said they would scrap a straw poll (Herman Cain, anyone?). "We thought long and hard about it," said party spokesman Wadi Gaitan. "We have seen a movement away from the straw poll (Iowa is a recent example) and decided not to include one in this event. Candidates can focus on meeting and speaking with the grassroots without having to concentrate on a straw poll."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times