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202 posts from July 2012

July 31, 2012

Crossroads announces $2.3 million stimulus-Obama basher FL ad-buy

Crossroads GPS announced it'll spend $2.3 million in Florida as part of its multi-state $25 million effort to defeat President Obama. The spot, which will run for about 10 days starting today, takes aim at the stimulus.

Note: The Congressional Budget Office and many economists don't view the stimulus as failed, per se, because it helped stabilize many government jobs (certainly that was the case in Florida). But it sure didn't stimulate the economy as much as bailout state and local governments temporarily. And dit didn't keep unemployment below 8 percent, as the president's team has announced. So failure could be a matter of political perspective.

 The spot can be viewed here:

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla pays for radio time, talks about brothers in contested primaries

We've already told you about state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla's thank you ad ("Gracias, Diaz de la Portilla!") on Spanish-language radio. He was automatically reelected, but that ad could help his two younger brothers, Alex and Renier, in contested primaries. Alex is facing former state Rep. Gus Barreiro; Renier is up against Manny Diaz Jr.

On Tuesday, Miguel paid for 15 minutes on WAQI-AM (710), better known as Radio Mambí, to talk about himself and, of course, his family. He mentioned a young Christians group he led at Belen Jesuit High School -- along with Alex. "We fell in love with public service," Miguel said.

He also mentioned all the endorsements he -- not his brothers -- got in his last race, including Republican favorites Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Miguel also said he and his brothers "have always run positive campaigns" -- though "one must defend oneself from lies."

And he referred to unnamed candidates in the current election cycle (read: his brothers' opponents) "who say they are Republican, when really they supported [former Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent] Rudy Crew, who is a socialist Democrat, or have voted with liberal and socialist Democrats."

Voters will remember, he added, that "Alex Diaz de la Portilla helped us bring money for the port," Renier Diaz de la Portilla brought money for schools.

Group of Miami-Dade politicians holds private political huddle, raise Sunshine Law questions

By the standards of Northwest Miami-Dade, it amounted to a political summit.

State lawmakers, a county commissioner, and current and former mayors and city council members of Hialeah, Miami Lakes and Hialeah Gardens gathered on a Saturday morning over coffee at a La Carreta restaurant in Hialeah.

Everybody was there — except the public.

The only way to know what the power brokers discussed is to take them at their word: They talked politics in an effort to turn vast Northwest Dade into a regional force.

“In unity, there are certain powers,” said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who called for the powwow.

But the hush-hush deal didn’t last. Unity crumbled. Someone blabbed.

Now, some question whether the meeting broke Florida law, which requires that public business be discussed “in the sunshine” — in advertised, public meetings. But Hernandez said the meeting was about politics only, not city policy.

Secret political huddles are nothing new in Hialeah, which has long run groups of candidates for office. Two weeks ago, the mayor and all but one council member backed the reelection bid Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“If we didn’t have those conversations, you would never have slates,” said state Sen. Rene Garcia, a Republican and former city council member who attended the meeting.

But this one, held in a side dining room at La Carreta, was more ambitious. More here.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's brother-in-law busted in Pasco oxycontin pharmacy case

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's brother-in-law was charged Monday in connection with a large Pasco County oxycontin-distribution ring targeted by the local sheriff's office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Authorities say Edward Beckles, the 59-year-old owner and operator of Ed's Family Friendly Pharmacy, was providing prescription pain medication to two drug rings that operated between Florida and Kentucky. Beckles also dispensed pills to at least one woman in return for sex, authorities said.

Beckles is married to Carroll's sister, and upon the unsealing of his indictment, he let DEA agents know of his powerful sister-in-law who knew nothing of the case or his activities.

"Lt Gov. Carroll is not familiar with mr Beckle's arrest or his business practices and she has never visited his pharmacy," the governor's office said in a written statement. "She is surprised and saddened that this has happened to her sister's family."

The drug bust is the second controversy ensnaring Carroll in recent months.

A former aide accused the married mother of one of being involved in a lesbian relationship with another aide, a claim Carroll vehemently denied to the point of making comments that suggested attractive black women don't engage in homosexual relationships.

The former aide who leveled the lesbian charges against Carroll, Carletha Cole, is currently facing a trial for illegally disclosing conversations recorded when Cole worked for Carroll.

Carroll's spat and her intemperate remarks in the case of her former aide might have cost her a key role in addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August. Carroll, a telegenic former state representative from Jacksonville, is the only black Republican lawmaker in the state's Capitol.

Gov. Rick Scott, whose poll numbers are low, hasn't been invited yet to give a major address at the convention, either. Aides say the governor is focused more on governing than campaigning.

Ironically, one of Scott's major accomplishments was legislation his office pushed to crack down on pain-medication distribution, which is considered to be a major problem in Tampa Bay and South Florida.

In this most recent case, however, authorities decided to slap federal instead of state charges on Beckle.

He was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone while acting outside the course of professional practice. He faces 20 years for each charge.

Endorsement war in Dem race to challenge Rep. David Rivera

Emily's List, which supports aborton-rights women candidates, this morning said it was endoring District 26 Congressional candidate Gloria Romero Roses, which could be a big deal if it spends some hard-to-come-by dollars to advertise the little-known Democrat.

Romero Roses could use the help. She's in a three-way race with Gus Marin and Joe Garcia, a relatively well-known Democrat from Miami who has run for Congress twice before and who was head of Miami-Dade's Democrats.

Garcia last week scored the endorsement of the Kendall Federation, which represents homeowners in the heart of the Key West-to-Kendall district. Marin was co-endorsed with Garcia by the United Faculty of Miami-Dade College.

Whether the endorsements mean something is yet to be seen. The primary is Aug. 14. What they do indicate, however, are the flavor of the campaigns. Garcia is more of a local candidate (though only Marin lives in the newly drawn district). Romero Roses was recruited by Washington types affiliated with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But it's not as if Romero Roses doesn't have local ties. She's a graduate of UM and FIU, where she still mentors. And she scored the endorsement of The Miami Herald, Key West The Newspaper and the Ocean Reef Community Association.

Which of all this means more? We'll find out more.

Mitt Romney's V.P. pick? There's an app for that

Picture 4From a press release:

Romney for President today launched a new mobile app that will allow users to sign up to be the first to learn the identity of the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

The new app, called “Mitt's VP,” will serve as the campaign's first official distribution channel for Mitt Romney’s announcement of who he selects to be his Vice Presidential candidate.

“The historic announcement is getting closer,” said Beth Myers, Romney Campaign Senior Adviser. “Soon everyone will know who Mitt Romney selects as his Vice Presidential running mate. With this new app, users can be the first to know the second member of America’s Comeback Team.”

“The first official way to learn the name of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate is by using our new ‘Mitt's VP’ app,” said Romney Digital Director Zac Moffatt.  “Users of the app will be the first to get the news on the biggest political decision of the year through an instantaneous alert on the one device most people carry around the clock – their phone.”

As soon as the Vice Presidential choice is announced, users will receive a push notification on their smart phone. The new app will allow users to share the exciting news on their own social networks.

“Mitt’s VP,” downloadable for free on both iPhone and Android platforms, is the latest innovation by the Romney campaign to engage supporters and reach new voters using a host of social media tools. 

"Kiss my ass" moment erupts between Mitt Romney camp and traveling press corps

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's overseas trip to England, Israel and now Poland hasn't been the foreign-policy showcase many supporters had hoped for. In London, politicians and the press were offended by comments that seemed to criticize their management of the Olympics. Then, in Jerusalem, he made comments about Jewish cultural exceptionalism that offended Palestinians.

And to his traveling press corps, Romney has said next to nothing. And reporters really want to ask him about the controversies or, in their words, gaffes and mishaps.

Their only real shot seemed to come Tuesday in a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland. That's when the trouble began. Here's CNN's transcript, which fails to name the reporters but gives the name of Romney spokesman Rick Gorka (who in my experience with him is a decent, solid media handler):

Continue reading ""Kiss my ass" moment erupts between Mitt Romney camp and traveling press corps" »

July 30, 2012

Gov. Scott leaves his official email account off state transparency website

Gov. Rick Scott said he was championing transparency in May when he gave the public access to his emails by posting them online for anyone to see.

But what he failed to say at his May 3 news conference launching Project Sunburst was that the emails he made public were not the emails of his official state account. The emails the public read online were from a different account used almost exclusively by conservative supporters.

On Monday, after the Herald/Times questioned what appeared to be an unrealistically high percentage of favorable emails on the public database, the Scott administration issued a statement acknowledging the two separate e-mail accounts. It also announced that it would phase out RLS@eog.myflorida.com, which Scott solely used to respond to email. That email address — which was not on any official state website — appears on many Tea Party websites across the state, under the heading “Governor Rick Scott’s email.”

“Effective this week, emails sent or received using the official website contact form will also be added to the Sunburst system,” said Scott spokesman Brian Burgess, who emphasized that the governor’s emails are always available through a public records request.

Scott was not available for comment.

A full list of emails sent to both of Scott’s accounts, going back to May 1, will now be uploaded to the system. Scott’s official state email account is rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com, but this account is only used to receive emails and not correspond with the public.

Read more here

See the press conference announcing Project Sunburst here:

Note: The governor's press office went to great lengths to show that Project Sunburst was "above and beyond" what the law requires and that Scott is one of the most transparent govenors in Florida history.

We've posted the office's lengthy statement, in its entirety, below:

Continue reading "Gov. Scott leaves his official email account off state transparency website" »

Absentee-ballot fraud case tolls on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's reelection

In a bid to stem the political fallout over potential absentee-ballot fraud, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has asked key campaign consultants to state in writing that they did not hire two women under investigation for illegally collecting ballots.

A dozen paid operatives began signing the notarized affidavits over the weekend, as questions remained over whom exactly the women were working for and why one of them, Daisy Cabrera, was found in possession of several ballots. A county ordinance prohibits anyone from holding more than two ballots belonging to other voters.

Joe Carrillo, a private eye who first alerted police to his suspected ballot-brokering by Cabrera, met on Monday with a public-corruption prosecutor at the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.

The probe has become a stumbling block for Gimenez, who is seeking reelection Aug. 14 against six opponents, including County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, his chief rival. Last year, Gimenez ran on his character, portraying himself as a man of integrity.

Gimenez has emphatically said his campaign had nothing to do with Cabrera and Matilde Martinez, who were detained and questioned by Miami-Dade police last week in Hialeah. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.

“If I didn’t hire her, how am I blamed for something that I didn’t do?” Gimenez said in an interview on Monday. “These two ladies do not work for my campaign.”

Continue reading "Absentee-ballot fraud case tolls on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's reelection" »

Dr. Gisela Salas, chief of state elections division, resigns

Dr. Gisela Salas, director of the state Division of Elections, has resigned effective Aug. 1 to take a job closer to her family in Ocala.

Salas' resignation was made public Monday afternoon in an email that her boss, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, sent to Florida's 67 county election supervisors. Because her departure comes at a pivotal time -- just before a statewide primary in a presidential election year -- Detzner emphasized that the office will remain in capable hands.

"John Boynton, deputy secretary (of state), will be overseeing the operations of the division," Detzner wrote, noting Boynton's 39 years of experience at the agency. Detzner said his chief of staff, Jennifer Kennedy, also will work closely with the division, along with the division's three bureau chiefs, Kristi Bronson, David Drury and Maria Matthews.  

Salas earned $90,000 a year. She was the state employee who was in regular -- and in some cases difficult -- contact with election supervisors in recent months over a controversial purge of suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls. 

-- Steve Bousquet