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64 posts from April 2018

April 30, 2018

Dinesh D'Souza mocked Parkland survivors. Now he's speaking at a Florida GOP event.



When Parkland students traveled to Tallahassee a week after the nation's deadliest high school shooting to demand a ban on assault weapons, lawmakers from both parties listened to them.

Conservative commentator and author Dinesh D'Souza chose to make fun of them.

"Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs," D'Souza tweeted in response to a photo of emotional students when an assault weapons ban failed in the Florida House. "Adults 1, kids 0," he added. 

On Monday the Republican Party of Florida announced that D'Souza, who apologized for his comments, will speak at the 2018 Sunshine Summit in Orlando on June 28 and 29.

D'Souza, a conservative lightning rod who spent eight months in a halfway house for making $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions, said the grief of Parkland students inside the Florida Capitol was staged for media coverage.

"Genuine grief I can empathize with," he tweeted. "But grief organized for the cameras—politically orchestrated grief—strikes me as phony & inauthentic."

The Florida Democratic Party called on the Florida Republican Party to cancel D'Souza's appearance.

"Today, the Republican Party of Florida announced Dinesh D’Souza, Dan Bongino and Kayleigh McEnany as the first three speakers confirmed for the 2018 Sunshine Summit, June 28 and June 29 in Orlando," an email from Florida GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia said. "We look forward to hearing their message of liberty, opportunity and limited government."

Read more here.

Here's how much the Republican Party pays to meet at Trump's resort in Miami

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The Republican Party is coming to South Florida this week, and the GOP is spending its money at a familiar haunt: President Donald Trump's golf resort in Doral.

The Republican National Committee spent $234,000 on venue rental and catering at Trump National Doral Miami since the beginning of this year, where it will host its spring meeting from May 2 to May 5. Trump's U.S. businesses, which include resorts and hotels across the country that are frequently used for conferences and meetings, have received at least $15.1 million in revenue from political groups and federal agencies since 2015, according to a report released earlier this month.

The RNC spent $424,000 at Trump-owned properties during the first two months of 2018, according to Federal Election Commission documents. Trump Doral, a sprawling resort with four golf courses, was also used by the Trump campaign for fundraisers and press conferences during the 2016 presidential election.

An RNC spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

More here.

Philip Levine gets married in private ceremony

Levine married


Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor running for the Democratic nomination to be Florida's next governor, got hitched to his longtime girlfriend over the weekend in a private ceremony.

Levine, 56, and Carolina Murciano, a real estate agent and younger sister of television actor Enrique Murciano, were married at their Miami Beach home Friday. The marriage is Levine's first.

The couple got engaged last year as Levine mulled a run for governor. Murciano, 40, gave birth in October to the couple's son, Henry Joel Levine. She has two children from a previous relationship.

"With Beno, Mica, and Henry at our our side, Carolina and I exchanged vows of love and got married at our home last night," Levine posted on Facebook. "I married my best friend and could not be happier about our journey ahead."

Levine is currently running against Chris King, Andrew Gillum and Gwen Graham to win the Democratic primary in August.

Rick Scott pulls in $3.2 million in three weeks

Rick Scott


Gov. Rick Scott raised $3.2 million for his Senate campaign in three weeks – a figure that should startle Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats.

As Scott's campaign said, "this is the same amount of funding raised by Bill Nelson's campaign in the entire first quarter of this year."

It credited Florida finance chairwoman Darlene Jordan and national finance chairman Thomas Hicks.

The big haul contained no money from millionaire Scott, the campaign said, and the precise amount seems intended to send a message to Nelson.

Scott has already established a fast-paced campaign schedule.

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times.

April 27, 2018

Joe Biden endorses Javier Fernandez in special House District 114 election



With a special House election looming in central Dade, Miami Democrats are bringing in the party's favorite hype man.

District 114 candidate Javier Fernandez has received the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, which the party hopes will help boost voting heading into Tuesday's election. The district, which leans ever-so-slightly Republican, spans from Flagami south through West Miami, Coral Gables, Pinecrest and Cutler Bay. Currently, Republican Andrew Vargas has a roughly 1,200-vote lead in early and absentee voting based on votes cast along party lines, but Democrats have seen election day pushes over the last year during special elections.

"I proudly endorse Javier Fernandez, who will be a strong Democrat in a critical seat in the Florida House,” Biden said in a statement. “Javier will be a champion in Tallahassee in the fight for affordable healthcare, common-sense gun reform, and protecting Florida's vital coastline from sea-level rise."

The campaign to win the seat vacated by disgraced former representative Daisy Baez has been fierce but low-key. Democrats are hoping to defend the seat, which Republicans want to reclaim the district. Liz de las Cuevas is running without party affiliation.

'This is becoming dangerous': A Miami lawmaker raises money with fear-inducing emails

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Election Day is about six months away, but for David Richardson's congressional campaign every day is doomsday. At least if you read his fundraising emails.

Here's a recent sampling of email subject lines from the Miami Beach state representative who is running as a Democrat to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

"we cannot afford this again"


"this is becoming dangerous"

"REALLY REALLYYY BAD for Democrats!"

The emails, sent twice a day, eventually ask the recipient to give money to Richardson's campaign, and though the strategy has led to thousands of small-dollar contributions in a competitive Democratic primary, some Democrats question the ethics and long-term viability of sending dire emails every few hours.

"I don't think we're doing a good enough job for painting a vision of what the Democratic Party can be all about," said Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, who recently criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for sending a fundraising email to supporters with the subject line "Mueller FIRED." Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating any links or potential coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, has not been fired.

"I don't think it's inappropriate to be urgent or even angry or partisan. It's just that you can't do that morning, noon and night and you can't tell people the republic is falling apart every five minutes," Schatz said.

Richardson says donors from around the country respond to his emails and donate because he embraces Medicare-for-all and wants to impeach President Donald Trump.

"We’re using positive messages but also urgency because this primary is really important," Richardson said. "I can only speak to my own emails, but I do not believe that we’ve said anything that is untruthful or misleading. It would not be my position to put out an email that was patently false."

Richardson says he's gotten positive responses about his emails from supporters, and sending emails with dire messages is giving Richardson a financial edge in the competitive Democratic primary for Ros-Lehtinen's seat, where the victor in August will be favored to win the seat in November. He's raised $434,254.68 in small-dollar donations — those under $200 — since announcing his candidacy in June 2017, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Richardson ranks sixth in small-dollar donations out of about 1,200 Democrats nationwide seeking to get or keep a House seat this year, and the five candidates ahead of him have all gained substantial national attention for contesting a special election or challenging a high-profile Republican hated by Democrats, like House Speaker Paul Ryan or House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes.

And Richardson is well ahead of his Democratic challengers in the race to replace Ros-Lehtinen when it comes to small-dollar donations that primarily come through email. Former University of Miami President Donna Shalala raised $11,432 in small-dollar donations; former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman $56,180, former judge Mary Barzee Flores $59,921 and Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez $16,724.

Read more here.

Carlos Curbelo signs the DREAM Act

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Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo announced Friday he will sign onto the DREAM Act, a bill that protects young immigrants who stand to lose protection from deportation if President Donald Trump successfully cancels an Obama-era executive action known as DACA. 

"We're closer than ever to meaningful compromise on immigration," Curbelo said on Twitter. "Thankful to Rep. Jeff Denham for his work to force a vote on possible solutions in the House. Today, I co-sponsored 2 bills I would support – Rep. Will Hurd & Rep. Pete Aguilar's USA Act and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard's DREAM Act."

Immigration activists have asked Curbelo for months to co-sponsor the DREAM Act, which is considered the most expansive piece of immigration legislation that would protect the young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. Curbelo wrote his own piece of immigration legislation, dubbed the Recognizing America’s Children Act, a more conservative version of the DREAM Act designed to capture more Republican support.

Curbelo had previously said he would vote for any immigration bill, including the DREAM Act, if it made it to the House floor. The sole immigration bill that was recently considered by House leadership is a conservative plan that Curbelo doesn't support and the U.S. Senate tried and failed to pass a slew of immigration bills in February.

Curbelo, a Miami Republican facing reelection in a Miami-to-Key West district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 percentage points, joins retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as a DREAM Act cosponsor. Ros-Lehtinen introduced this Congress' version of the DREAM Act in July 2017, and Curbelo is the sixth Republican to sign onto the bill.

Read more here.

Updated: Miami Beach commissioner says she'll resign to run for Congress



Update: Kristen Rosen Gonzalez plans to submit her resignation today at 3 p.m. Click here for the story.

A Tallahassee judge has rejected a Miami Beach commissioner's request to block a new state law that requires her to resign her elected position in order to run for Congress.

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez filed a lawsuit April 10 arguing that the state could not legally force her to give up her seat on the city commission in order to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Florida Legislature passed a new law last month that requires local and state politicians to resign to run for a federal office with an overlapping term, but Rosen Gonzalez said the law couldn't legally be applied to anyone elected before the bill was signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Judge Karen Gievers disagreed Thursday and denied Rosen Gonzalez's request for a temporary injunction. Gievers said the state law wasn't being applied retroactively since the period most crucial to the election — the qualifying deadline — is May 4.

"The outcome of the instant case would have been different if the application of the new language were to an election for which the qualifying period had already concluded, as that would have resulted in an improper retroactive application," Gievers wrote.

To read the rest, click here.

April 26, 2018

First South Florida debate set for Democratic candidates for governor

Dem candidates


The four Democrats running to become Florida’s next governor will get together in South Florida for the first time in June for a debate hosted by the Service Employees International Union’s state council and several left-leaning non-profits.

The two-hour event will take place June 11 at the Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Pl. Doors will open at 5:30PM. Tickets will be distributed to local community members through the host organizations: SEIU Florida State Council, Dream Defenders Action Fund, Florida Immigration Coalition Votes, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC.

The debate, which has been dubbed the Florida Freedom Forum, will be live-streamed. A moderator has not yet been announced, but organizers say Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine have all confirmed their plans to attend.

The hosts say they plan to focus on “issues that poor and working communities face every day,” such as education, “institutional and implicit bias,” wages, and access to low-cost, high-quality healthcare. The primary election will take place in August.

Photo is a YouTube screengrab of the FOX 13 News debate held on April 18.

April 25, 2018

Bill Nelson will vote for Mike Pompeo as secretary of state



Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson will vote to confirm Mike Pompeo as President Donald Trump's second secretary of state, his office confirmed Wednesday. Nelson's stance is a change from January 2017, when he voted against Pompeo's confirmation as CIA Director.  

Pompeo, a former congressman and currently director of the CIA, is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate after about a half dozen Senate Democrats said they would vote for him. Some Democrats have expressed concerns over Pompeo leading the State Department due to his past support for torture practices and military intervention in Iraq. 

Nelson said Pompeo's secret meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "put him in a better light" in terms of his confirmation but stopped short of saying how he would vote last week.

"I support the trip, I think it's a lot better talking than shooting especially when the crazy child dictator has nuclear weapons, I think it's better to be talking," Nelson said. "On Pompeo, I will defer on that. I voted against him. I thought he was going to be too political as CIA Director and I'm going to evaluate that as secretary of state." 

Pompeo will take over the State Department if confirmed after Rex Tillerson was fired via tweet. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is an enthusiastic supporter of Pompeo, who endorsed Rubio during his presidential bid. 

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo has the full confidence of the president, an outstanding record of service to our country, and is more than qualified to serve as Secretary of State," Rubio said in a statement. "As Director Pompeo’s nomination now moves to the Senate Floor, I strongly urge my colleagues to put country over party and confirm him without further delay."