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August 16, 2015

AP: Pro-Jeb Bush super PAC plans $10M TV ad buy

From the Associated Press:

DES MOINES -- The powerfully funded super PAC backing Republican Jeb Bush will spend at least $10 million on television time in the earliest voting presidential primary states, the first salvo in a massive TV ad campaign to support the former Florida governor's bid for the Republican nomination.

Officials with Right to Rise USA say they will buy time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina TV markets and on cable television in the three states. Ads are scheduled to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire on Sept. 15, in South Carolina a week later and then run continuously through the end of the year.

The plan, shared by the group with The Associated Press prior to Monday's buy, is the first evidence of Right to Rise USA's major strategic spending of the roughly $100 million it had on hand last month. It's also the first major move by the group, which was developed by Bush and longtime advisers including California ad maker Mike Murphy, to run alongside Bush's own campaign organization, which is bound by federal fundraising limits.

(Murphy had said earlier this year Right to Rise probably wouldn't start spending money until January.)

More here.

Pentagon studying U.S. alternatives to Guántanamo prison

via @carolrosenberg

Pentagon teams studying alternative lockups to Guantánamo Bay visited Fort Leavenworth in Kansas this week and head to the Charleston, S.C., brig next week as part of spadework for a proposed closure plan that swiftly stirred opposition in Congress.

“Not on my watch will any terrorist be placed in Kansas,” said GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in a statement issued Friday afternoon. He and then fellow Kansas senator Sam Brownback first opposed the use of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth for war-on-terror captives in 2008, and for a time put a hold on the 2009 appointment of Army Secretary John McHugh over consideration of moving Guantánamo captives to Kansas.

Now Brownback is Kansas’ governor and still opposing the idea. “The citizens of Kansas do not support moving terrorists to the heartland of America,” he said Friday night. And Roberts is championing legislation — The Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act — that would make it tougher to repatriate any of Guantánamo’s last 116 captives or resettle them in other countries, including the 52 long-held prisoners currently approved for transfer with security arrangements.

Current U.S. law flatly forbids bringing any of Guantánamo’s captives to the United States for any reason — neither for trial nor for medical care — an embargo the White House blames for soaring costs of the detention center staffed by more than 2,000 troops and federal contractors.

More here.

August 15, 2015

For-profit colleges tied to Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

Phoenix 14 One PAB

@MrMikeVasquez @PatriciaMazzei

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign spent the past week touting her new plan to make college affordable — in part by cracking down on “predatory” colleges, and forcing schools to “spend federal dollars on things that benefit students, like teaching and research, not marketing campaigns.”

What Clinton didn’t mention: Her husband Bill has been paid more than $16 million as “honorary chancellor” of Laureate Education, the world’s largest for-profit college company. The firm is being sued by several online graduate students for allegedly dishonest practices, and a 2012 U.S Senate report found that more than half of Laureate’s online Walden University revenue went to marketing and profit.

Republicans quickly went on the attack. “Clinton’s College Hypocrisy Tour Rolls On” read the subject line from a Republican National Committee e-mail to reporters. 

What the RNC didn’t mention: The GOP field of 2016 presidential hopefuls is filled with candidates who have close ties to for-profit colleges. Marco Rubio listed two for-profit executives (and the industry’s former top Florida lobbyist) as “contributors” to his 2006 book,100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future. Jeb Bush gave a keynote speech at the for-profit industry’s Washington trade association last year, for which he was paid $51,000. 

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is being sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his now-shuttered “Trump University” business school. Schneiderman has said Trump University used false promotional materials and “was a scam from top to bottom.”

Trump denies the allegations, and says the investigation by Schneiderman, a Democrat, is politically motivated. 

In Florida and across the country, students who say they were victimized by for-profits are usually poor or working class. Many are single moms, or military veterans. 

More here.

Photo credit: Peter Andrew Bosch, Miami Herald staff

Can Florida draw an unbiased political map? Contrast and compare

Congressional districtsAs Florida legislators struggled last week to draw a congressional district map that meets a court mandate, it became clear that what they would end up with would be far from perfect.

“Bring me a redistricting commission or something, for goodness sakes,” exclaimed Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, as lawmakers convened for the second special session to revise a congressional redistricting plan that had been rejected by the court. “Bring me something that works!”

Redistricting reformers thought they had found a better way when they persuaded 63 percent of Florida’s voters in 2010 to approve the “Fair District” amendments to the Florida Constitution that outlawed gerrymandering and banned lawmakers from intentionally drawing districts that favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties.

But taking politics out of the most political of acts turned out not to be so easy.

Now, lawmakers are in the midst of a second special session to redraw the congressional map for the third time.

So, up against this political angst, what does it take to create a politically unbiased map?

More here.

August 14, 2015

2 Florida House members file amendments to congressional map

@MichaelAuslen

The Florida House on Monday will consider two proposed changes to the congressional district map, one of which has already been thrown out under legislative rules.

Just Reps. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, and Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, had filed amendments by the noon Friday deadline to be considered by the full House.

Gonzalez's amendment follows the lead of Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who proposed changes to keep Sarasota County and the eastern part of Manatee County represented by one member of Congress, currently U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican.

The original "base map" drawn by House and Senate staff split Sarasota County into two seats, which upset many locals.

Hill's proposed change would revert to an older congressional map already ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. But the House Select Committee on Redistricting disposed of the amendment before voting on it in their hearing Thursday because it technically falls outside the proclamation for a special session.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee, meanwhile, is expected to consider more amendments Monday, including four already filed and one "composite" that would take into account all of the amendments offered by Sens. Detert, Tom Lee, R-Brandon; David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs; and Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville.

That map still hasn't been filed with the Senate, but senators have until 8 a.m. Monday to make requests to the committee for changes.

Jeb Bush eats his way through Iowa State Fair

@PatriciaMazzei

It must have been cheat day for Paleo dieter Jeb Bush, where he spent a full fours at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Friday doing what presidential candidates are supposed to do at state fairs: trying lots of fatty foods.

At one point, according to reporters there, his staff tried to usher him out but Bush insisted on staying a while longer.

Bush also spoke to fair goers, some of whom peppered him with questions about his Middle East policy and his brother's war in Iraq.

Here's a sampling of Bush's fair snacks:

Fried Snickers

Pork

Beer

Florida spent nearly $3 million to protect Gov. Scott, visitors

Florida is a popular destination not just for tourists but for out-of-state politicians.

Dozens of them passed through the state over the past year, and Florida taxpayers pay for their security whiile they're here to the tune of more than half a million dollars.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported Friday that it spent $530,000 over the past year for transportation and protective services for out-of-state politicians.

State law provides that FDLE agents provide transportation and security for visiting governors and their families, for business and pleasure, "upon request by the governor." The full report is here.

FDLE also reported spending $2.4 million to protect Gov. Rick Scott, First Lady Ann Scott, family members and the grounds of the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. The total cost for those services was slightly higher than for the previous year.

In its report, FDLE cited $216,000 to provide security and transportation for Attorney General Pam Bondi, and $88,000 for a Republican Governors' Association conference in Florida last November. The runaway winner for most visits to Florida over the past year was Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his family, who visited the state at least 10 times at a cost to Florida taxpayers of $19,000.

Lawsuit plaintiffs send letter with possible legal argument against new congressional map

@MichaelAuslen

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause on Friday sent a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner outlining what could make up the core of a legal argument against new congressional district maps being drawn this week and next in Tallahassee.

"We write to call your attention to the fact that we have questions about some choices made with regard to the proposed configuration of Congressional District ("CD") 26 and CD 27,” they wrote. “We ask you to examine those districts closely as they appear to have been drawn with partisan intent.”

Districts 26 and 27 are South Florida seats that currently split the city of Homestead in Miami-Dade. In its ruling overturning the congressional districts, the state Supreme Court instructed the Legislature to keep Homestead in one district, saying that the lines appeared to be drawn to ensure the 26th continued to be held by a Republican.

While a newly proposed map by the Republican-controlled House and Senate would put all of Homestead in District 26, it would add Democrat voters to the already very-blue District 27. This, argue League of Women Voters and Common Cause, would have the effect of giving the the GOP even more protection in District 26, currently represented by freshman U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican.

Continue reading "Lawsuit plaintiffs send letter with possible legal argument against new congressional map" »

Hillary Clinton, warm technocrat, meets New Hampshire voters -- and they are pleasantly surprised

DEM 2016 Clinton

via @adamsmithtimes

KEENE, N.H. -- You’ve heard that the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information on her personal email server as secretary of state. And you know that nobody considers Mrs. Clinton nearly as skilled a politician as her husband, Bill Clinton, or as magnetic as her old boss, Barack Obama.

What you may not realize, and what is consistently overlooked lately amid her email scandal, the attention on Donald Trump, and the buzz about gigantic crowds for Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, is that the cautious candidate so often depicted as cold and distant connects quite well with voters.

“She brought me to tears. I am a tough, cranky, hard-a-- New Englander, and she touched my heart today,” businesswoman Denise Andrews said after attending a town hall meeting in Exeter, N.H.

News coverage of Clinton’s Exeter appearance focused on her reaction to “offensive, outrageous” Trump, rather than her interaction with the mother of a 5-year-old girl battling cancer or the young man drowning in college loans and unable to find a job. (“You’re a good-looking young man. You ought to be out in the world making your way,” Clinton said, sounding like a grandma.)

“She has so much compassion, and it shows,” said middle school teacher Sarah Harris, the mother of that girl close to beating Stage 4 liver cancer. “She’s a person, she’s a grandmother, she’s somebody’s mother.”

More here.

Photo credit: Jim Cole, Associated Press

Marco Rubio wants U.S. to intervene in Haiti, Dominican Republic migration crisis

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wants the U.S. to work with the governments of the Dominican Republic and Haiti to resolve -- or at least ease -- turmoil between the neighboring countries over looming mass deportations.

In 2013, a Dominican court stripped citizenship from thousands of Dominican-born children of Haitian migrants, effectively leaving them stateless and prompting international outcry. The Dominican government now has a "registration" plan for the undocumented to legalize their immigration status, but the situation remains tense.

Rubio wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday asking him to reach out to the Dominicans. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio is an avid letter-writer to Kerry, especially over Cuba and Venezuela policy.

"I respectfully ask that you work with the Dominican government to ensure that the registration process for Dominicans of Haitian descent is fair and inclusive of those born in the country and provides them with the opportunity to live in the Dominican Republic," the Florida Republican and 2016 presidential candidate wrote.

"I also ask that you work with the Government of Haiti to ensure those who decide to return to that country are treated humanely and receive appropriate assistance. It is important that all individuals who are affected by this ruling are afforded all their rights as citizens of either the Dominican Republic or Haiti and that no one is left stateless."

Read Rubio's full letter below.

This post has been updated to include the PDF of Rubio's letter.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio wants U.S. to intervene in Haiti, Dominican Republic migration crisis" »