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93 posts from September 11, 2016 - September 17, 2016

September 12, 2016

Justice Perry announces retirement, sets in motion plan for Scott to pick replacement

James E.C. Perry@MaryEllenKlas

Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry notified Gov. Rick Scott on Monday that he will retire from the Florida Supreme Court on Dec. 30, 2016, as required by law, formally setting in motion the opportunity for the governor to make a coveted pick to the state's highest court.

Perry, who was appointed to the bench in March 2009 by former Gov. Charlie Crist, must retire because of a state law requiring justices to retire on their 70th birthday or the end of their six-year term if they are half-way through the term. Perry turned 70 in January 2015 but his term ends Jan. 3, 2017.

Scott will choose from a list of three to six candidates from the region that encompasses the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Central Florida. Under Florida's judicial appointment system, the governor appoints new justices from a list of three to six names submitted to him by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, a nine-member panel controlled by the governor’s appointees. Last week, Scott reappointed three members of the commission, including his former general counsel, Jess Panuccio.

The likely candidates are expected to be Daniel J. Gerber, of the Orlando office of the law firm Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell, Fifth DCA Judges Alan Lawson and Wendy Berger. Gerber also applied when Perry was nominated and Berger was named to the trial court bench by Scott.

Perry’s retirement is the first opportunity Scott will have to name a justice to the moderate court that has vexed Republicans during his term on issues ranging from redistricting, abortion and workers compensation to declaring that the Republican-controlled Florida House violated state law when it adjourned early in protest over a budget dispute over the Affordable Care Act.

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PolitiFact: Ad misleads in ranking about Patrick Murphy in Florida Senate race

Murphyatpodium (1)

A conservative organization portrays U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, as a "fabulously phony failure" in a TV ad.

Murphy is taking on Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in one of the most closely watched Senate battles in the nation.

In the ad, American Future Fund says, "Patrick Murphy was named one of America's least effective congressmen."

The fund is a political nonprofit organization that does not have to disclose its donors and has spent millions of dollars this election cycle largely attacking Democrats.

We will explain the basis of that claim and the shortcomings of the evidence.

(The ad also states that Murphy distorted his work record related to being a certified public accountant and small business owner. We have fact-checked similar attacks about his resume .)

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

September 11, 2016

Miami-Dade mayor: Trump not made out to be president; Clinton qualified


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez endorsed Hillary Clinton's qualifications for president during an interview aired Sunday, saying the former Cabinet secretary was qualified to be president but that Donald Trump lacked the "make-up" for the job. 

"I think Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president of the United States. Obviously there are issues with her, too, in terms of the email scandal and all that," Gimenez told CBS 4's Jim DeFede. "But by and large, she is qualified to be the president of the United States. Donald Trump, I'm not sure he has the make-up to be the president. He says things that tend to divide America, not unite America." 

While Gimenez told DeFede he doesn't plan to endorse in the presidential race, the Republican mayor's statements showed him praising the Democratic nominee while criticizing the GOP's candidate. It was the latest installment of Gimenez's delicate maneuvering around the presidential race as the five-year incumbent seeks reelection in the Democratic-heavy fall election.  

As mayor, Gimenez met with a top Trump aide in early 2014 about the mogul's interest in taking over management of Miami-Dade's Crandon Park golf course, an idea that began to gel when the mayor and Trump golfed there a few months earlier. Trump's plan to upgrade the course but keep it a county park became public in news reports in early 2015 after Trump, who owns one of Miami-Dade's largest resorts, gave $15,000 to help launch Gimenez's reelection effort.

One of Gimenez's sons, C.J. Gimenez, a lawyer, registered to lobby for Trump interests at the city level, and told the Herald he gave Trump's team minimal legal advice on the Crandon matter. Trump's proposal fizzled after county commissioners objected to it. Gimenez later returned the donation on the heels of Trump's incendiary statement about Mexican immigrants entering the country illegally, comments made at his presidential announcement.

On Sunday, Gimenez elaborated on comments made last week that he does not plan to vote for Trump. "At the end of the day, I made it very clear I'm not voting for Donald Trump," he said. "There are things that he has said that I just -- I can't vote for him. Being a Republican, for me, that is unusual." 

Gimenez's challenger in the runoff, school board member Raquel Regalado, is also a Republican. She has said she won't vote for Trump but has also declined to say if she'll vote for Clinton.