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May 27, 2016

Tim Canova endorsed by Democracy for America PAC

Tim Canova has been endorsed by Democracy for America, the progressive PAC founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

The PAC has also endorsed Bernie Sanders who is backing Canova in his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Broward/Miami-Dade district.

Canova got the endorsement "because he has spent his life challenging the power of Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the systemic political corruption that keeps them profitable at the expense of everyone else," said Jim Dean, chaor of the PAC. "From her vote in support of fast track authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership to her unabashed protection of a payday lending industry that makes billions off the back struggling working families, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has aligned herself with the wealthy interests who are making income inequality worse in our country."

Democracy for America has raised $36.6 million to help elect 843 progressive candidates nationwide since 2004, according to a press release from the PAC. This cycle in Florida, the PAC also endorsed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson who is running for U.S. Senate and Susannah Randolph who is running for Congress.

Canova's fundraising has picked up steam since Sanders announced on CNN last weekend that he supports Canova who has raised more than $1.5 million in his first bid for office. His fundraising prowess has helped land him interviews with national outlets including MSNBC and Fox News, increasing his exposure.

Wasserman Schultz, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, raised $1.8 million through March. Her campaign has not announced how much she has raised since that date. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said a fundraiser he hosted in May raised $50,000 for her and Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for her in June at the Coconut Grove home of Stephen Bittel.  

 

 

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

@PatriciaMazzei

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'

@PatriciaMazzei

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

@PatriciaMazzei

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

@doug_hanks

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

@PatriciaMazzei

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

@doug_hanks

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

A third way? How Libertarians could alter Florida race

The Libertarian Party is holding its national political convention in Orlando over Memorial Day weekend to nominate candidates for president and vice president. The top contenders appear to be former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson for president and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld for vice-president, both of whom are former Republicans. The convention's theme, with its own hashtag, is Legalize Freedom.

Despite polls showing record unfavorables for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton -- numbers likely to grow -- the idea of a third-party candidate has fizzled partly because of restrictive ballot access laws in many states.

Here's how the law works in Florida: To get on the November ballot, a minor party candidate must notify county supervisors of elections by July 15 that it plans to collect valid signatures from 1 percent of Florida's registered voters from the last general election, or about 120,000 signatures.

But minor-party candidates for president have a dreadful record in Florida. Johnson got one-half of one percent of the vote in 2012, Reform Party candidate Ralph Nader got 0.4 percent in 2004 and 1.6 percent as the Green Party candidate in 2000, a year in which Reform Party's Pat Buchanan for 0.3 percent.

Because the razor-close 2000 Bush-Gore presidential race was decided in Florida in favor of George W. Bush by 537 votes, numerous studies concluded that Nader was a spoiler candidate who was instrumental in Al Gore's defeat. For that reason, Democrats in Florida tried without success to prevent Nader from appearing on the ballot in 2004, when he proved to be a non-factor.

The most successful Libertarian statewide candidate in Florida? That would be Adrian Wyllie, who got 3.8 percent of the vote for governor two years ago.

Read the Florida law for minor-party presidential candidates here. The full schedule for the Libertarian Party convention is here.

Democrats debut anti-Trump ad in swing Miami congressional district

@PatriciaMazzei

National Democrats have targeted 15 competitive congressional districts across the country -- including one based in Miami -- to launch a digital ad campaign against House Republicans and Donald Trump.

The video, backed by a five-figure online ad buy, will run for two weeks. It features Trump sound bites on issues such as immigration and abortion, along with clips from House GOP leaders.

By tying Trump to Congress in districts where the presumptive presidential nominee is already unpopular, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes to boost the chances of its candidates, including in Florida's 26th district, where the party has backed Annette Taddeo. She faces a tough primary against former Rep. Joe Garcia to take on Rep. Carlos Curbelo, the Republican incumbent.

Titled "Building Blocks," the highly produced video will be promoted on Facebook, aimed at female Republican and independent voters Democrats hope to win over come November. It's the biggest digital ad campaign the DCCC has launched so far this election cycle.

 

Alan Grayson delays financial disclosure filing

GRaysonAPfile

@JeremySWallace

The world will have to wait a little longer to find out how much money Congressman Alan Grayson made in 2015.

That is because the Orlando Democrat this month asked for, and received, an extension that will delay him from having to report his financial holdings and any income he made last year.

Members of Congress must file annual financial disclosure reports by mid-May each year. However, the Committee on Ethics allows them to file for an extension for 30 days, 60 days or 90 days without offering any reason. Grayson's request for 90 days was granted earlier this month according to the House Committee on Ethics. That allows him to wait until Aug. 14 to file his annual report.

"The reason is that his financial disclosure is lengthy, so additional time is required,” said David Damron, a spokesman for Grayson's campaign.

Grayson's extension comes after his handwritten 2014 report was flagged by the Office of Congressional Ethics earlier this year for having "omitted required information from his annual financial disclosure statements related to reportable assets, income, agreements, and positions.”

The OCE report came as part of a larger inquiry into Grayson’s management of a hedge fund and other business interests that may have improperly overlapped with his congressional duties. The OCE has forwarded their findings on to the House Committee on Ethics, which announced in April it is reviewing the referral.

In his 2014 report, Grayson, an attorney, reported that he has a net worth is between $13 million and $105 million. Roll Call has estimated his net worth to be $33.9 million, ranking him as the 12th wealthiest member of Congress.

The extension will allow Grayson to delay reporting his finances until after voting begins in the August Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. The election is Aug. 30, but absentee ballots begin going out 30 days before the election.

Murphy's campaign said Grayson is either hiding his assets from voters or "needs extra time to fudge the numbers of his money-making schemes."

"Rep. Grayson has yet to amend any of his old financial disclosures, even though ethics investigators did the work of identifying 'numerous omissions' for him, and now he’s delaying his current disclosure to the last possible minute," said Galia Slayen, a spokeswoman for the Murphy campaign said. "Until Rep. Grayson releases his financial disclosures, he is robbing Florida voters of the opportunity to know the truth about the shady money he’s using to fund his campaign.”

Despite Slayen's criticism, congressional records do show Grayson has twice amended his financial disclosures. Grayson filed amendments for his 2014 disclosure in September and again in October, according to records published by the House Clerk's Office.

Ironically, Murphy himself has filed for extensions in previous years. Last year, Murphy was granted a 90 day extension to file his financial disclosures. He also received one in 2013 to delay reporting his 2012 financial holdings.

Damron said Murphy cannot be taken seriously on the issue and pointed out Murphy is being questioned about how much of a role he really played in trying to clean up oil in the Gulf of Mexico as he has claimed in the past.

"In this case, his campaign is lying again," Damron said.

Damron said the reason for Grayson's delay this year is because his financial disclosure is lengthy, so additional time is required.

Grayson is hardly alone in seeking a extension for his report. Seven of Florida's 27 House members have requested and received similar 90 day extensions, including U.S. Rep. David Jolly, the Pinellas County Republican who is among 5 candidates running in the GOP primary for the same U.S. Senate seat that Murphy and Grayson are fighting for. Besides Grayson and Jolly, U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami; Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee; Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston; and Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

May 25, 2016

Marco Rubio reports another $100K from book sales

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio earned an additional $102,500 in 2015 from book royalties, his financial disclosure form shows. That adds to the $1 million or more he'd already earned from two books, chiefly An American Son published in 2012.

He also earned $9,016 for teaching at Florida International University. His wife shows "partnership distributions" for JDR Events but Rubio is only required to say it was more than $1,000.

Bill Nelson reported $49,100 in retirement income from his time in state government and about $5,600 from an IRA. More detail here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Former prosecutor to run for Florida Senate against Gwen Margolis

via @DavidOvalle305

Former prosecutor Jason Pizzo is joining the crowded Florida State Senate race to represent Northeast Miami-Dade.

The six-person race among all Democrats includes Sen. Gwen Margolis, Florida Rep. Daphne Campbell and former Rep. Phillip Brutus. The newly configured district include coastal cities such as Aventura and North Miami Beach, as well as predominately black neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Overtown.

Pizzo, 40, spent more than four years as a prosecutor, leaving in November to go into private practice.

During his last 10 months at the state, Pizzo said, he helped lead a pilot project that embedded prosecutors and community-support staff with police in Northeast Miami-Dade neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence.

The efforts resulted in more arrests in shooting cases, convictions at trial and even the targeting of slum lords and shoddy housing conditions, he said.

To begin his campaign, Pizzo lent himself $200,000. "I can speak my mind," Pizzo said. "I don't need to go ask for money. I'm not beholden to any lobbyists or special interest or old guard crusty bureaucratic B.S. If there is something to do, I'm going to make sure it gets done."

Pizzo, a graduate of New York University, Columbia University and the University of Miami's law school, is married with 10-year-old twin boys.

--DAVID OVALLE

Zika funding inaction frustrates Florida members of Congress

via @learyreports

With Congress set to go on -- another -- vacation, Florida lawmakers are worried about Zika funding. 

Sen. Bill Nelson today sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter urging him to keep the chamber in session.

"Though the House passed a stand-alone bill to provide a mere $622 million and the Senate attached $1.1 billion in Zika funding as an amendment to a larger appropriations package, we are still weeks away, at best, from passing a final bill out of Congress," Nelson wrote. "Without the passage of a stand-alone Zika funding bill by the Senate, there is no clear path forward. I have tried repeatedly to pass a bill to fund the Administration’s request and send it to the House. Unfortunately, each attempt was blocked. For these reasons, I ask you to exercise your power as the Senate majority leader to take up consideration of a stand-alone funding bill (S. 2843) to address Zika, and to even delay the Memorial Day recess if Congress needs more time to pass the bill."

Sen. Marco Rubio was on the floor Tuesday making a similar call for action. "For all of us as Americans but especially for all of us as elected leaders, It is long past due to take this virus seriously. Because the virus is not just serious; this virus is deadly serious and so far, I must say that congress is failing this test.”

Rep. Vern Buchanan is asking House and Senate leaders to appoint conference members to work out differences on spending measures.

"The cost of delay is unacceptably high," Buchanan wrote in a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders. "We are seeing the effect of this disease in Florida, where mosquito season has already begun. Currently, Florida has more than a quarter of all U.S. Zika cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are expected to enter the U.S. mainland and begin infecting Americans within the next 'month or so.' "

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sided with medical marijuana proponents in a vote despite past opposition

DWSAPmug

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who has taken heat for her opposition to medical marijuana, quietly took a vote in favor of it last week.

In 2014, she opposed Florida’s constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana — a rare position for a South Florida Democrat — that led to a spat between her and wealthy trial lawyer John Morgan, who bankrolled the amendment. A similar measure will appear on the ballot in November.

In the past, as a Democrat in a safe liberal district, Wasserman Schultz faced no political repercussions at the ballot box for taking a position out of step with her constituents. But criticism about her stances carry more weight this year because she faces a well-funded Democratic challenger: Tim Canova, who supports medical marijuana.

That’s why her vote related to medical marijuana last week has drawn some attention.

On May 19, Wasserman Schultz joined all but five Democrats in voting in favor of an amendment to allow military veterans’ access to state medical marijuana programs, as first reported by Marijuana.com. A directive currently prohibits Veterans Administration doctors from filling out forms for state medical marijuana programs or discussing the use of medical marijuana with patients.

Keep reading here.

Florida Dems snag Cory Booker as speaker for Broward gala

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a man some people consider a possible Hillary Clinton running mate, will star at Florida Democrats' annual gala next month in Broward County.

Booker will keynote the 2016 Leadership Blue Gala on June 18 in Hollywood, the party announced Wednesday.

"As the largest swing state in the nation, Florida will play a determining role in stopping Donald Trump and returning the Senate to Democratic hands," Booker said in a statement. "While we know the work ahead won't be easy, I know Sunshine State Democrats are fired up and ready to deliver Florida for the third time in a row."

"As Mayor of Newark and in the United States Senate, Senator Booker's leadership has brought Republicans and Democrats together to get things done without compromising on the values which make our party and our nation strong," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in a statement.

Todd Wilcox calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme'

@MichaelAuslen

17098319Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Republican Senate candidate Todd Wilcox, told a conservative activist group last month.

In an April forum put on by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida, Wilcox said there need to be changes made to Social Security, such as upping the retirement age for future generations of recipients and adding means testing. It was caught on video by a YouTube user named Amir Patel, likely a “tracker” sent out by a rival campaign to collect video of candidates’ every move.

“Social Security is a tax and an insurance program. It’s not a 401(k) program,” Wilcox said. “It’s a Ponzi scheme at this point, so if we don’t change the way we’re doing things, it’s going to go bankrupt.”

Wilcox, a defense contractor who lives in Orlando, isn’t the first Florida Republican to claim that a government entitlement program is a Ponzi scheme. In 2014, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, was caught on video telling college Republicans that Social Security and Medicare are both Ponzi schemes.

It became the centerpiece of an attack ad by Curbelo’s Democratic opponent, Joe Garcia, who lost the election.

That year, PolitiFact Florida rated Curbelo’s claim False. PolitiFact also rated a similar claim in 2009 by former Texas Gov. and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry False.

In a Ponzi scheme, someone promises big returns on people’s investments, but they all come from future investors’ money — not from legitimate profits. Social Security, meanwhile, is more of a “pay-as-you-go” system giving current workers’ money to current retirees, PolitiFact wrote.

Wilcox, however, said in an interview with the Times/Herald that the comparison is fair because of the flow of money. If the program is not changed, he said, current workers — especially younger ones — may not receive the benefits.

He’s advocated for changes to the program that would affect younger workers.

“We can’t change the rules on seniors who are in the program now and are depending on it,” Wilcox said. “Those who are in their 40s now, and especially those who are younger, should not plan on it being what it is now.”

At the Republican Liberty Caucus event last month, Wilcox’s words resonated: He won a straw poll that night with 128 of 204 votes.

Wilcox is one of five Republicans running to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The other candidates are U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and developer Carlos Beruff.