July 22, 2015

Guess who's coming to dinner (with Gov. Scott at the mansion)?

Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott are holding another of their community leaders dinners at the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee on Wednesday evening. Like similar events, they include a mix of public officials, political appointees, community leaders and personal friends of the first family. (Mrs. Scott will not attend this dinner, Scott's office said).

Among the more notable names on this list are Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University, a Scott appointee to the board of Enterprise Florida and a possible Republican candidate for Congress in 2016; Matt Carlucci, a Scott appointee to the Commission on Ethics; Scott Thomas, a Scott appointee who chairs the Florida Elections Commission; Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs; John Browning of the Florida Transportation Commission, a Palatka businessman and long-time donor to the Republican Party and its candidates; Citrus County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Himmel; and the sheriffs of Columbia and Sumter County, Mark Hunter and Bill Farmer.

Below is the full list of invited guests and their affiliations as provided by Scott's office.


Continue reading "Guess who's coming to dinner (with Gov. Scott at the mansion)?" »

July 21, 2015

Gov. Scott will visit Guardsmen as states debate arming recruiters

On the heels of his order closing storefront National Guard recruiting centers and authorizing recruiters to carry guns, Gov. Rick Scott will visit the Guard's 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday where he will meet with an estimated 100 Guard members.

Two of the shuttered Guard storefronts are in Jacksonville and nearby Orange Park. The others are in Brandon, Temple Terrace, Orlando and Miami.

Scott's order directed the state adjutant general, Michael Calhoun, to arm all Guardsmen, including providing them with weapons if they don't own them. That has touched off debate in other states, as Republican legislators in Missouri are urging Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to allow Guard recruiters in that state to be armed, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. 

In New York, police have stepped up patrols at Guard recruiting centers, such as in Times Square. But a spokesman for the New York National Guard, Eric Durr, said recruiters won't be carrying weapons in that state. The Department of Defense opposes arming all troops and the Army's chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, has publicly questioned the wisdom of the new policy.

Governors in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have also authorized recruiters to carry firearms, and South Carolina is considering a similar step.

Scott's executive order last Saturday came two days after a Kuwait-born gunman killed four Marines and a sailor in two separate attacks at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn. The governor directed Calhoun to relocate about two dozen Guard personnel to nearby armories and to work with police to improve security. Scott also has ordered all state flags to fly at half-staff until sunset of the last day of funeral arrangements for victims of the Chattanooga shootings.

July 20, 2015

Scott and Lopez-Cantera: We oppose diplomatic relations with Cuba

US CubaGov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera took time out of their schedules Monday -- which each listed "no scheduled events" -- to denounce the revival of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States.

The Cuban government reopened its embassy in Washington Monday, flying the Cuban flag over the building for the first time since 1961. Scott and Lopez-Cantera had previously been vocal about their opposition to the move. 

“I stand in firm opposition to the reopening of the Cuban embassy in the United States and the American embassy in Cuba,'' Scott said in a statement. "Last week, the Castro regime arrested 100 peaceful protestors in Cuba. Reestablishing diplomatic ties will only serve to legitimize this sort of oppression. The arrests of peaceful protesters in Cuba have also doubled in the past year and President Obama continues to make concessions to the Castro brothers.

"This move by President Obama will further tie our great nation to the oppressive Castro regime. As Governor, I will continue to stand with the people of Cuba in their pro-democracy movement.” 

Lopez-Cantera, who last week announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, echoed the sentiments. 

“Today, the Obama Administration capitulated to the Castro regime with no regard for the human rights or liberty of the Cuban people,'' he said in a statement. "I, along with Governor Scott, stand firmly against reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba.”

Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP

July 18, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott orders National Guard recruitment centers to move to armories, citing Chattanooga

via @stevvebousquet

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Saturday ordering all six Florida National Guard recruitment centers to be moved to Guard armories. The order comes in reaction to Thursday's shooting rampage at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., that left four Marines and a U.S. Navy sailor dead.

Scott directed the state adjutant general, Michael Calhoun, to take three immediate steps:

* Relocate all Florida National Guard personnel working at storefront recruitment centers to move to the nearest armory as soon as possible.

* Begin discussions with local law enforcement agencies to arrange regular security checks at all Florida armories.

* Ensure that all qualified full-time guardsmen are armed for their personal protection.

In signing Executive Order No. 15-137, Scott said: "The state will take any every measure available to secure military personnel against the planned attacks of ISIS, including but not limited to securing the work areas and recruiting stations for the Florida National Guard, which the state directs."

The order also says Scott's administration will streamline the application process for military men and women to apply for concealed weapons licenses to ensure that they "can also adequately defend themselves at home."

--STEVE BOUSQUET, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

July 15, 2015

Adam Putnam fundraising numbers add to 2018 governor race speculation


Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam has ramped up his fundraising activities, amassing nearly $2 million for a political committee he controls just since March.

Putnam, frequently mentioned as a likely candidate for governor in 2018, reported raising more than $460,000 just in June alone. He now has raised $1.8 million total for a political action committee called Florida Grown.

His biggest donors since March have included Jupiter beer distributor J.J. Taylor Companies, Manatee County insurance company FCCI and Little River Plantation Holdings, a company with ties to Mike Fernandez, a major GOP fundraiser in Florida. Each gave Florida Grown $100,000 each since April. Another $100,000 combined came on the last day in May from U.S. Sugar Corporation and South Central Florida Express Inc, a rail line owned by U.S. Sugar.

Putnam’s largest contribution came from another political action committee he previously ran called the Sunshine State Leadership Project. That fund transferred nearly $400,000 to Putnam’s new committee on April 30.

Continue reading "Adam Putnam fundraising numbers add to 2018 governor race speculation" »

July 14, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott signs law to create college-type savings plans for disabled

By Jenny Luna

Despite cutting millions of dollars to aid the state’s disabled community, Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law Monday that allows individuals with disabilities to boost their savings from $2,000 to $100,000 without jeopardizing their state and federal benefits.

Scott signed the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act amid students and families of the Marian Center in Miami Gardens, a school for people with disabilities. The law will go into effect by July 1, 2016.

The more celebrated news, however, was that 2,000 people previously on a wait list for a Medicaid waiver from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities will be able to receive care at home instead of being institutionalized. Under the state budget that went effect July 1, $40 million will go toward providing services for these 2,000; 20,000 people are on the wait list.

Acela Ruiz applied for a Medicaid waiver when her son, Devin Feterman, was a toddler. Devin, 9, is on the autism spectrum and in a wheelchair. He will now receive physical and speech therapy.

“We will finally get the services we weren't able to afford before,’’ Ruiz said. She can also buy supplies not covered by private insurance, such as diapers, baby wipes and food.

More here.

July 07, 2015

State vows to stop more Confederates from being nominated for hall of fame


If any more Confederate soldiers are nominated for the state’s Veterans Hall of Fame, as they were this year, a key state official says he will refuse to pass their names on to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet for final approval.

Veterans Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast said he has an Attorney General’s opinion that makes clear he can only accept veterans of the "U.S. Armed Forces." Those who fought for the South during the Civil War were not members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

"Legally I can't bring something forward to the Governor and Cabinet that is not legal and proper and doesn’t meet the statutory requirements," Prendergast said.

When the state's volunteer Veterans Hall of Fame Council meets on Thursday in Tallahassee, Prendergast said they will be reminded of the Attorney General's opinion and encouraged not to submit more Confederate soldiers for consideration as they did earlier this year.

"It's somewhat problematic to go against what our attorney general has ruled," Prendergast said.

Continue reading "State vows to stop more Confederates from being nominated for hall of fame" »

Governor downplays tensions with Florida Legislature over vetoes


The tension between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Senate in light of $461 million in budget vetoes has been well documented.

State senators have called his actions politically motivated and characterized his veto pen as inconsistent.

But you would not know anything is wrong if you asked Scott. Speaking to reporters late Monday, Scott was asked if he feels tension growing between him and other Republicans in Tallahassee.

“Oh gosh, we’ve had five good sessions,” Scott said of working with state lawmakers. “We’ve done 50 tax cuts. We have record education funding.”

Continue reading "Governor downplays tensions with Florida Legislature over vetoes" »

July 06, 2015

Scott sidesteps questions on possible 2018 Senate run


Florida Gov. Rick Scott was offering no hints on Monday about whether he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Asked about that prospect, in light of him spending almost $300,000 on political consultants since April, Scott wouldn’t bite.

"I’m continuing to work at my job as governor," Scott said following a ceremony inducting five new members into Florida’s Veterans Hall of Fame. "I just went through an election last year and I’ve got three and a half more years as governor and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this is a place this a where you want to raise your family."

Besides spending money on consultants, Scott has also been airing television ads statewide through his Let's Get To Work fundraising committee and has tried to elevate his national profile by hosting 7 GOP presidential candidates at an economic summit he hosted in Orlando in June.

Scott's current term as governor runs through 2018, when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, would be finishing his third term in the Senate. Some high dollar donors have said Scott privately has told them he has interest in running for the seat, though he has not said so publicly.

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott make PolitiFact Florida's Top 5 in June

In June, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced at Miami-Dade College that he was officially launching his bid for the presidency in 2016.

Bush dominated PolitiFact Florida's Top 5 most clicked-on reports in June. Also on our Top 5 list was an article about one of Bush’s rivals -- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- as well as a repeated claim by Gov. Rick Scott about the environment.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida to find our most clicked on item in June.