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165 posts from July 2007

July 27, 2007

Republican bloggers launch effort to save debate

The N.Y. Times reports that a group of Republican bloggers have launched a new website, www.savethedebate.com, which argues that Republican candidates should not skip the Sept. 17 CNN/YouTube debate planned for St. Petersburg. In recent days, former N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have suggested they won't attend.

The website says skipping the event would be a "serious mistake." Republicans cannot afford to turn their back on new media and young voters, the website proclaims, pointing out that even Hillary Clinton, the "most calculating" Democrat agreed to appear at the Democratic You Tube debate.

In an open letter to GOP candidates it states: "We sincerely hope you will reconsider any decision to snub the critical January 29th primary state of Florida and 51 million unique YouTube users. The Republican Party is about freedom. A free and open debate that includes the American people could be just what the doctor ordered to break the stanglehold of the liberal media."

Fla Dem chief may disclose her income

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman said the party may amend its bylaws to require her to disclose all of her sources of income, following revelations that she partnered with a Republican power broker to lobby on behalf of Miami-Dade County.

The Miami Herald reported earlier this month that Thurman receives $3,500 per month from the law firm headed by former Florida Republican party chief Al Cardenas, one of three lobbyists for the county in Washington.

In a Q & A with the "netroots," Thurman said: "Now, I am not and have never been opposed to fully disclosing my outside income as chair, and I’m certainly not the first chair to have other interests. However, our party bylaws don’t address the issue. But now we are in the process of discussing how to best to go forward. One option is to amend the bylaws with a procedure for disclosure, since that really seemed to be the issue for people that had concerns.''

Asked if she had any regrets in how she handled the situation, Thurman quipped: "I regret that it ended up in the newspaper!''

Giuliani: CNN messed up, I'm not YouTube-ing

Jim Defede, host of 940 am's Jim Defede Show, just finished an interview with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who said he's not going to the much-touted YouTube Republican presidential candidate debate because host CNN chose a bad date.

" I have no problem at all with the format. My campaign informed me yesterday that CNN just went ahead and picked a date, didn’t bother to ask us, and we have six events on that date that are already scheduled, I think,” Giuliani said.

"There was a little annoyance on the part of my campaign. They just select a date and they don’t think we have anything else to do."

The full interview will air Monday. Here's a taste: Download Giuliani.mp3

FL voters yawning over prez candidates, Dems should worry

All the talking heads and YouTube buzz and aside, neither the Republican nor Democratic presidential candidates appear to be exciting Florida voters, about a third of whom are undecided, according to a new poll.

The large undecided block is most striking among likely Republican primary voters who are almost as enamored of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as they are of actor-politician Fred Thompson - who hasn't even officially declared, the poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows.

Pollster Brad Coker said the Democratic candidates should have more concern with the numbers because a Democratic presidential candidate will likely need to win Florida -- the only swing Southern state -- in the general election to win the White House.

But Democratic voters could get turned off by the national party's threat to all but nullify their ballots after Florida moved its primary to Jan. 29, when the party only wants four smaller states to vote.

About 21 percent back Giuliani, 18 percent favor Thompson and 11 percent John McCain, with the others in single digits. The poll's error margin is 5 percent. For the Democrats: Hillary Clinton is at 31 percent, Barack Obama is 17 and John Edwards is at 12.

Former PSC member hit with fine

The Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday voted unanimously in favor of fining former State Rep. and Public Service Commission member Rudy Bradley $5,000 for knowingly receiving an ex parte communication from Verizon and then reading it into the record during a PSC meeting. The commission rejected arguments from Bradley's attorney that there was no evidence that Bradley knew a memo came from Verizon. The matter now goes to Gov. Charlie Crist, who must decide whether to impose the fine.

The commission also approved a settlement with former PSC member Brauilo Baez where Baez agreed to pay a $1,169 fine for breaking state law when he dined at a swanky South Beach restaurant courtesy of a lobbying firm whose clients included Florida Power & Light. Bradley has a separate complaint pending against him regarding the same meal.

Ethics panel agrees FIU broke state law

The Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday voted unanimously that Florida International University broke state law by using public money to pay Fausto Gomez and former FIU provost James Mau to lobby on its behalf. State law says that state agencies cannot use tax dollars to lobby the Legislature.

But the commission declined to make any formal recommendation to the Florida Legislature on what to do next. Instead the commission will forward its findings to Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio and note that the commission decided not to take any more action. Commission members said there was no reason for the case to go any further under their watch because FIU officials agreed the law had been broken and FIU "self reported" the case to the commission.

Lawmakers, however, could ultimately sanction FIU, including blocking it from being able to lobby the Legislature for up to two years.

Dean rides herd on Florida Democrats

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean could force Florida Democrats to cast aside the results of the Jan. 29 primary and stage their own election, says one party insider.

In an e-mail to other activists, DNC member Jon Ausman of Tallahassee quoted an interview Dean gave to a South Carolina television station. "Florida's going to have a different kind of electoral procedure than they think they will,'' Dean said. "We want to preserve South Carolina's uniqueness.''

The new state law that bumped up Florida's primary from mid-March to Jan. 29 violated the calendar set by the Democratic national party, which allows only four smaller states to vote that early.

In order for Florida Democrats to send delegates to the national convention, Dean could make them hold a separate election after Feb. 5. "This could happen,'' Ausman warned.

Haridopolos to use tax CCE to seal Sen. Prez. bid

Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, says he basically has the senate presidency locked up for 2010, but he needs to barnstorm the state to collect more votes and use his committee of countinuous existence, the Committee for Florida's Fiscal Future, to pay for it all.

Haridopolos said he'll also use the committee, which he formed just before the regular March lawmaking session, to stump for tax cuts, but that'll take a back seat to his presidency bid. The CCE's account is small right now, having raised just $14,500, but Haridopolos expects that to change.

Haridopolos got a boost during the June special session when Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, withdrew his bid and swung support to Haridopolos. "I guess I'd rather make the presiding officer, rather than be one," Alexander said. "Haridopolos is nonstop. He lives and breathes this stuff."

The major obstacle: Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton. "This ain't a sprint, it's a marathon," he said. "No one is senate president in 2010 right now. Not me. Not Mike."

House Republicans hold lavish fundraiser

It sounds like a South Florida dream vacation: a yacht cruise, salsa dancing lessons, dinner at the famed former Versace mansion in Miami Beach, and even a personal concierge who will ``be available 24 hours a day to ensure your comfort.''

But this isn't being offered by a travel agent. It's a Republican party fundraiser, a lavish three-day affair that Florida's GOP leaders in the state House are holding this weekend in Coral Gables and Miami Beach. Gold sponsors to the event must pay $50,000. Platinum sponsors must pay $100,000. It's expected to be a record-setting fundraiser put on by House Republicans and organized with the help of Miami-Dade legislators David Rivera, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Anitere Flores. More here.

Is Rubio ally helping raise money for speaker's next move?

Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican and top ally to House Speaker Marco Rubio in late May registered with the state to raise money on behalf of two new groups: Future Leadership Committee, a committee of continuous existence and Future Leadership Organization, an electioneering communications organization.

The CCE has already raised $27,500 according to state campaign records while the ECO did not report any contributions in its first quarter of existence.

Rivera maintains that he agreed to help the group, whose chairman is Miami political consultant Ariel Pereda because Pereda wants to support conservatives throughout the state. Rivera also acknowledged that veteran fundraiser Bridget Nocco is helping out.

"That's a group that was started by the chairman and it seeks to promote conservative issues and values and principles throughout the state,'' said Rivera, who said he has spent the last two months spending his time helping organize and raise money for a big House Republican fundraiser being held this weekend in Coral Gables and Miami Beach.

Rivera also said the group has nothing to do with Rubio's future plans: "I think he's doing his own thing. I think he's opening up a foundation. This is not for him." Rubio has not made it clear what he plans to do when his term as speaker is over.