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May 27, 2016

Carlos Lopez-Cantera responds to Marco Rubio re-election chatter


All the talk about Republicans nudging Marco Rubio to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate has got to be getting into Carlos Lopez-Cantera's head -- right?

No, he told the Miami Herald outside a Miami-Dade Republican Party meeting Thursday night.

"Marco's already said that he's not running for re-election," he said. 

That's true. And Rubio has named Lopez-Cantera, Florida's lieutenant governor and his close friend, his preferred successor.

Yet when he was asked Thursday what he'd do if Lopez-Cantera weren't running, Rubio refused to answer, calling the scenario a "hypothetical." Donald Trump, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, later tweeted that Rubio should run.

Doesn't that bother Lopez-Cantera, who -- like his fellow Republicans in the crowded Senate race -- has struggled to break out of the pack?

"Not at all," he said. "Marco's been really great. Obviously, he's my friend, and he's been very generous with his time and his counsel and his support. He did an event for me a couple of weeks ago. No, it doesn't bother me. A lot of people clearly trust his judgment and like him, as I do."


May 26, 2016

Judge sides with prison whistleblower and orders a hearing

A Tallahassee judge has ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections violated the due process rights of an agency whistleblower and ordered it to conduct a special hearing to review claims of retaliation against him after he accused the chief inspector general of cover-ups.

Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson gave the agency 30 days to hold a “compliance hearing” to allow investigator Doug Glisson to demonstrate how he believes his rights under the Police Officers Bill of Rights were violated.

Glisson, a supervisor who has a 20-year career in law enforcement, was hit with six internal affairs investigations in a single day after he told members of a state Senate committee about what he suspected were instances of cover-up and abuse at the state prison agency. During the investigations, Glisson concluded that the reviews were superficial, that the officer in charge — Inspector Brian Falstrom — was biased against him, and that the goal of the investigations was to discredit him or force him out.

Glisson protested in a six-page letter to FDC Secretary Julie Jones in May 2015. He asked for a formal compliance review hearing to go over his complaints, but was rebuffed and sued the agency.

In the letter to Jones, Glisson called for Falstrom to be removed from the investigation because, according to another investigator’s sworn affidavit, Falstrom had called Glisson an “effing whistleblower.” Only after Glisson sued last fall was Falstrom removed from the case.

Dodson ruled that Glisson was entitled to the hearing, that he had no other legal remedy and that the agency erred when it claimed it did not have to grant him a hearing. Under the law, Glisson will have the right to choose two members of the five-member compliance review board. The agency will pick two and those four will pick a fifth.

FDC spokesman Alberto Moscoso said FDC was still reviewing the ruling and would have no comment.

Glisson’s attorney, Ryan Andrews, said the ruling could have broad-ranging consequences for other whistleblowers and officers who are the subject of internal affairs investigations within the department.

While this is a victory for Mr. Glisson personally and professionally, it is also a victory for all employees of the Department of Corrections. This ruling will help all employees at DOC get what they never could before when their Officers' Bill of Rights are violated,’’ he said.

The department files “hundreds of these internal affairs investigations a year and I’m not aware of them ever granting a compliance review hearing or a compliance review board in the history of the department,’’ he said. “They deny them as a matter of course, as a rubber stamp, and now they can’t do it anymore.”

Glisson is one of five FDC investigators who unsuccessfully sued the agency in 2014 after Gov. Rick Scott’s inspector general, Melinda Miguel, refused to give them special protection that would have shielded them from administrative consequences.

Glisson believes he is being punished for speaking out against former Inspector General Jeffery Beasley. He accused his former boss of improperly and unethically interfering with pending investigations.

Glisson and three others testified on March 9, 2015, before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. They alleged that Beasley shut down an investigation into the death of an inmate at Jefferson Correctional Institution, ordered investigators to cover up that a doctor who had been hired by the agency had his license revoked in another state, and ordered Glisson and another inspector to tamp down an investigation into inmate abuse by a training center director because of a “Capitol connection” — someone who had close ties to a person in Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

“Mr. Glisson has been through hell since he stood up for what he believed in and made his protected disclosures regarding the suspicious death of Randall Jordan Aparo,’’ Andrews said. “Although it has taken time, these whistleblowers will not be kept down."

Earlier this year, Jones reassigned Beasley to a newly created job as chief of intelligence. He continues to draw an annual salary of $116,500

Marco Rubio on Donald Trump: 'I'm going to vote for him'


Marco Rubio once routinely referred to Republican rival Donald Trump as a "con man." But Trump's still "substantially better" than Democrat Hillary Clinton, Rubio told Florida reporters Thursday.

"I'm going to support him. I'm going to vote for him," he said. 

In a separate interview, Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper he'd be willing to speak on Trump's behalf at the GOP nominating convention in Cleveland.

The Florida U.S. senator said in the sit-down with Florida reporters that he has more faith in Trump than Clinton on a variety of issues, from overturning the Affordable Care Act to opposing abortion to appointing strict constructionists to the Supreme Court.

"Donald Trump won. Donald Trump was not a default choice," said Rubio, whose own presidential candidacy ended after he lost the Florida primary in March. "He won, and he won for a reason." (Rubio noted that he "finished third, I guess, in the delegate count.")

How can he justify backing Trump after having criticized him so harshly?

"Because the one other choice is someone who I believe is corrupt," Rubio said. "I'm not supporting her, and I'm not going to abstain from voting."

Other South Florida Republicans, including former Rubio and Trump opponent Jeb Bush, have said they won't vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Marco Rubio says he's been urged to run for re-election


Marco Rubio, who chose to run for president instead of re-election, acknowledged Thursday that some fellow Republicans have urged him to consider staying in the U.S. Senate.

Rubio said he's heard over the past day or so from Capitol Hill colleagues and a few Florida activists concerned the GOP might lose Florida's open, swing seat -- risking Republican Senate control.

Still, Rubio insisted his position to leave the Senate hasn't change, noting that he made the decision when he launched his presidential campaign last year to give other Republicans enough time to prepare their campaigns. One of those candidates is Rubio's friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

But Lopez-Cantera lags behind much of the crowded field in fundraising. And none of his rivals have broken out in polls, which worries national Republicans about their chances against the eventual Democratic nominee.

"I understand the argument," Rubio said, adding that "people here have approached me" to run.

"If the circumstances were different, but they're not," he said. "This is the facts: that Carlos is in the race, he's a good friend, he's a good candidate, he'll be a great senator. And so my answer today is no different than it was 24, 48, 72 hours ago."

Does that mean he'd jump in if Lopez-Cantera were to drop out before the June 24 qualifying deadline?

"I don't do hypotheticals," Rubio said.

Hollywood lawyer Alan Koslow charged in money laundering case

Alan Koslow, a longtime politically connected lawyer in Broward, was charged with money laundering by federal law enforcement Thursday related to an FBI sting that involved counterfeit Viagra and narcotics.

Koslow will surrender June 2 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer in Fort Lauderdale. Koslow, a former city of Hollywood attorney, worked for the Becker & Poliakoff law firm in Fort Lauderdale and was a lobbyist. The law firm was not involved in the crime, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Koslow, 62, of Hollywood, and Susan Mohr, 57, of Delray Beach, were charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy related to laundering what they say was cash proceeds from illegal activity. Mohr will surrender May 31.

Here is what happened, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

Beginning in November 2012, Koslow met with two undercover agents from the FBI. During the course of several meetings that followed, the undercover agents explained to Koslow, and later to Mohr, their need to launder cash that was being generated from an illegal gambling business and from the unlawful sale of narcotics and counterfeit Viagra.

Koslow and Mohr agreed to accept the cash and then provide checks to the agents, for the amount of the cash minus a five percent fee, drawn on the business bank account of “Mohr2GoGifts,” a business owned by Mohr and located in Fort Lauderdale.

Both face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Koslow was Hollywood’s city attorney from 1990-93 until he resigned after it came to light that he had a relationship with a city secretary with whom he helped negotiate a lawsuit settlement. In 1994 he agreed to a 30-day suspension from practicing law after admitting he violated the rules of the Florida Bar.

He was later a regular force at City Hall, where he represented developers in many big deals. Koslow established Becker & Poliakoff’s first gaming division and represented slot-machine manufacturers.

Keep reading here.


Jeb Bush raising money for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez


Jeb Bush is inching back into the political scene after his failed presidential run, scheduling a fundraiser next month for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

The evening event is scheduled on June 6 at the Coral Gables home of Nestor and Sonia Plana. The suggested contribution is $1,000 a person. 

Gimenez jeb event

This appears to be Bush's first political fundraiser since dropping out of the presidential race earlier this year. The Coral Gables resident backed Gimenez's opponent, Julio Robaina, during the 2011 mayoral election that put Gimenez in office, but the fellow Republicans have been allies since. Gimenez endorsed the former governor over Miami's other hometown GOP hopeful, Sen. Marco Rubio, when the presidential primaries began. (Gimenez switched to the Rubio camp after Bush dropped out, but has so far declined to endorse Donald Trump.) Bush was listed on the host committee of a fundraiser for Gimenez in April, but this would be his first head-lining event for the mayor, who is being challenged by school-board member Raquel Regalado and five others.  

Bush's event would come a week after a June 2 Gimenez fund-raiser featuring the former governor's son, Jeb Bush Jr. That $100-a-head reception at The Local Craft Food and Drink in Coral Gables is slated for June 2, and is advertised as a "young professionals" gathering. 

Bush jr invite

Florida GOP to Donald Trump: Congrats on reaching 1,237


From Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia:

The Republican Party of Florida would like to congratulate Donald Trump on surpassing the required number of delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for president. Throughout this primary Mr. Trump has generated a historic voter turnout and built an unstoppable momentum that dwarfs the efforts of the Democrats – a testament to voters’ eagerness for a new leader that will not promote the same failed policies of the last eight years.

Will Gov. Rick Scott appoint Republican to lefty Broward Commission?

Gov. Rick Scott has a rare opportunity to appoint a Republican to the liberal Broward County Commission but he hasn't said whether he will fill the seat.

Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter takes over as the county's tourism director June 5th replacing Nicki Grossman who is retiring. (Grossman departs just in time to celebrate getting the 2020 Super Bowl and avoiding the brawl over whether to call it a "South Florida" or "Miami" event.)

Scott's office hasn't said whether he will appoint a replacement -- he appears to be waiting for an official resignation letter from Ritter.

Any appointment of a Republican would likely only last a few months because the seat is up for election this year and the district leans left. 

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine, a Democrat, is the only candidate who has officially filed to run for the northwestern Broward seat.

Currently, there is one Republican on the nine-member commission: Chip LaMarca, who represents northeast Broward. Grossman told us it had been decades since the commission had more than one Republican on it at the same time.

In South Florida, a fight between Broward and Miami-Dade over how "Miami" to make the Super Bowl


Super bowl logos

Miami-Dade’s mayor was watching the NFL Network on Tuesday as league owners neared a final vote to award the 2020 Super Bowl to South Florida for the first time in 11 years. And something about the news irked him.

“Excuse me,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez recalled saying to an aide. “That should say ‘Miami.’ ’’

Sure enough, when Gimenez took the lectern at a triumphant press conference on Wednesday to celebrate the success of the “South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee” in securing Super Bowl LIV, the logo under the microphone read: “Miami Super Bowl Host Committee.”

The shift in locales did not sit well with the tourism director of Broward County, whose agency helped reserve thousands of hotel rooms for the South Florida bid package and was asked to contribute cash for the effort, too. “We would be seriously disturbed by a ‘Miami’ Host Committee,” said Nicki Grossman, who next month is retiring as tourism chief after 22 years on the job. “Especially if there was any expectation that Broward would participate in the Host Committee funding.”

Read the story here