Rick Scott's 527, "Lets Get to Work," is up with a new ad, criticizing Bill McCollum for using state aircraft to the tune of $280,000. A commercial cites a Times/Herald report from last summer showing McCollum, CFO Alex Sink and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp's apparent misuse of state planes. The report lead the Cabinet members to curtail their use of official travel.The 527's latest media buy figures show he bought time from Wednesday through July 20, for a total of $1.6 million. The buy includes saturation in the Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Panama City and Tallahassee markets.
Gov. Charlie Crist has asked BP for another $50 million for tourism advertising. In a letter to BP's Chief Operating Officer, Doug Suttles, Crist says the state has already "deployed" the initial round of $25 million. (Officials have told us the money is planned for throughout the summer but has not yet been spent.)
"Your investment in Florida's tourism marketing not only helps
Floridians, but it also benefits your company," Crist wrote. "Remember
that visitors coming to Florida beaches, staying in Florida hotels and
eating in Florida restaurants result in fewer claims for economic
At an impromptu press conference, Gov. Charlie Crist has announced that the extra $25 million is in the bank, and was received via wire transfer. It's ready to be spent on more TV spots promoting Florida's sugar-sand beaches. (The money, of course, was the subject of sharp criticism this morning at a Cabinet meeting.)
Crist's chief of staff, Shane Strum, will convene a task force on how to best use the money to "flood the market in the next 60 days with accurate information" about Florida's beaches and fishing areas.
Visit Florida director Chris Thompson, said the agency will develop a series of new ads that are specifically tailored for Northwest Florida. He called it a "broad stroke" message that could be amplified by matching dollars from media companies such as Clear Channel radio.
Crist said he hopes the ads aren't too late for Memorial Day weekend: "A lot of people make their plans late. It gives them the opportunity (to consider the Panhandle) if they hadn't made their plans yet."
Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, just sent out this release,
commenting on fellow Panhandle Sen. Don Gaetz's criticisms
of the response to the oil spill: (Worth noting that Peaden still
supports Crist's run for Senate.)
“I am disappointed in my friend and colleague Senator Gaetz. I
have been with the Governor as he traveled to the affected Northwest
Gulf Coast counties and met with our constituents, from oystermen and
fisherman, to our restaurants and hotels. They know as I know that the
Governor is fighting for them.
“Now is not the time to score political points. We should unite together behind the families and businesses that are hurting the most. As a Senator from the Panhandle region, I recognize the Governor’s hard work and stand ready to continue the fight against those who caused this terrible spill.”
There's no oil on Florida's beaches. And the state's tourism department wants you to know that. How are they going to tell you? With these two TV ads. One, embedded below, began running in major southeast markets such as Atlanta, Houston and Raleigh on Saturday. A second spot will begin running Thursday.
These ads were produced using $2.5 million in emergency tourism funding. Another $25 million from BP will pay for new spots, as well as wider distribution.
Reaction? Ask Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican: “Those spots were e-mailed to me and others. I looked at them, and I must say that they were of exceedingly poor quality, and there is no Northwest Florida emphasis."
Gov. Charlie Crist wasn’t exactly blown away by the quality either: “They can always be better, there’s no question about it.”
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson also described the ads as "generic:" "To me, looking at what you had was great, but it's like looking at an orange juice commercial that was cut two years ago and is still running today."
The Republican Party of Florida released 2,452 double-sided pages of credit card statements Friday revealing 31 card holders spent about $7.3 million from January 2007 through March 2010. Below is the list of every card holder and how much they spent. (Do note that the totals only reflect charges starting in 2007, even though many of these officials held American Express cards prior to that date.)
Jim Rimes, former executive director: $2.2
Delmar Johnson, former executive
director: $1.4 million
Melanie Phister, aide to
former Speaker Ray Sansom: $1.2 million
Bishop, deputy finance director: $694,000
Greer, former chairman: $478,000
Ulrich, Senate campaigns finance director: $208,000
Madden, Senate campaigns staffer: $175,000
Sansom, former House speaker: $167,000
Cannon, incoming House speaker: $124,000
Jeremy Collins, special assistant to Greer: $118,000
May 08, 2010 in Campaign Finance, Charlie Crist, Dean Cannon, Florida, Florida Governor, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Florida State Budget, Florida State House, Florida State Senate , Jeff Atwater, John Thrasher, Marco Rubio, Mike Haridopolos, Political Parties, Ray Sansom, Republican Party of Florida, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)
The internal wars within the Miami-Dade delegation erupted into a light-hearted feud late Wednesday as Rep. Marcello Llorente successfully defeated a measure by Rep. David Rivera that requires all state agency heads to live within 50 miles of Leon County.
Rivera, the House Appropriations chairman, pushed the bill through his committee last week in an attempt to highlight the troubles of two of Gov. Charlie Crist's appointees, who have come under fire for spending taxpayer dollars commuting to Tallahassee from homes in St. Petersburg and Miami. Rivera is a former top deputy to Crist's U.S. Senate rival Marco Rubio and Llorente was a one-time rival to Rivera for a state Senate seat.
Llorente's amendment would have removed the residency requirement because, he argued, it was needed to eliminate "one other obstacle to a governor in terms of recruiting top talent to positions across the state.''
Rivera defended it, saying that "when tax dollars are involved we need to make sure it’s about the people's business and not personal business." The Herald/Times disclosed that the heads of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Department were spending taxpayer dollars traveling to their homes outside of Tallahassee on the weekends.
The measure failed on a voice vote but when enough members demanded a roll call vote, House Speaker Larry Cretul was forced to make a rare quorum call to spare his budget chairman from an embarrassing loss. 113 members showed up. With several Democrats siding with Llorente, his amendment was adopted: 58-57.
What's left of Rivera's bill? A requirement that agency heads now compile reports every three months detailing how much they spend on job-related travel.
After the vote, both Rivera and Llorente were smiling -- amid plenty of blackslapping and gritted teeth.
Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros, Florida's top health official, has spent nearly $130,000 on taxpayer-funded travel in her first three years on the job and has spent at least a third of her weekends in her hometown of Miami.
The state surgeon general's travel pattern has not changed despite a belt-tightening edict a year ago from Gov. Charlie Crist's office and recent scrutiny of state travel by agency heads.
Viamonte Ros said her trips to South Florida took her to an "important hub" that allows her to reach Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Collier counties and the Keys.
"If I did stay over a weekend, it was always at my own home and no expense at all to the state, and I was always back immediately first thing in the morning on Monday," Viamonte Ros said.
To be sure, all trips included official speaking events or meetings. Viamonte Ros reimbursed the state when she used her rental car on off days. Staying at her Coral Gables condo saved money on hotels.
But the trips at taxpayers' expense allowed the surgeon general to
spend time at home on most holidays and many weekends. (Full story here)
The department issued the cars to Peterman and three top aides because they frequently visit field offices and must be on call to respond to emergencies. The cars are considered perquisites, or perks.
"Effective immediately, all of the perquisite vehicles assigned to Tallahassee staff have been rescinded," Peterman wrote in a memo to his staff Tuesday. "These vehicles will now join the state vehicle pool and be requested as needed."
A Jan. 26
report by Gov. Charlie Crist's chief inspector general, Melinda
reads: "Based on Florida statutes and other governing directives,
personal use of a state-issued vehicle by an employee may constitute a
taxable fringe benefit." The report said the Juvenile Justice Department
has not issued tax forms on the cars. (Full story is here)
Florida juvenile justice chief Frank Peterman has reimbursed the state for nearly $27,000 in questionable taxpayer-funded travel between Tallahassee and Tampa, trips that allowed him to spend long weekends near St. Petersburg, where his wife and children live and where he still preaches at a Baptist church.
The two checks were drawn on an account at Achieva Credit Union in Largo, near St. Petersburg. They total $26,811. The repaid money is equal to a full year's salary for many, many state employees, and follows a highly critical report on Peterman's travel by Gov. Charlie Crist's chief inspector general that recommended Peterman repay the state as a form of "corrective action ... for travel not fully and completely justified as official state business."
Crist ordered the IG investigation after a Times/Herald report last November detailed Peterman's many flights to and from the capital and Tampa, along with extra penalties for last-minute changes to flights, luggage fees and extensive use of costlier short-term airport parking. The amount Peterman repaid the state includes all travel from Tallahassee to St. Petersburg as well as the excessive luggage fees and airline re-bookings.