August 26, 2014

Ex-Lt. Gov. Carroll rips Scott, others in new book

In a new book, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll describes the misery of being in a “boys’ club” led by Gov. Rick Scott, who showed no interest in her ideas to reach out to black and Hispanic voters and whose staff members treated her shabbily.

Carroll, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was the first black woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Florida and held the largely ceremonial job for more than two years. She's now a political analyst for WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville. Her 174-page book, "When You Get There," is published by Advantage, a South Carolina company.

She describes Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, as "even more ruthless" than his predecessor, Steve MacNamara, a control freak who choked off access to the governor and shut her out of important meetings. She describes being "ambushed" on March 12, 2013, the day Hollingsworth and general counsel Pete Antonacci forced her to resign because of her past public relations work for a veterans' group linked in an internet cafe fraud investigation.

Carroll was not accused of any wrongdoing. Her story hits bookstores on Wednesday -- her birthday. By coincidence, her grievances about Scott will spill into public view on the very day he will launch his general election campaign for a second term.

Working with Clarence McKee, a black political consultant, in the 2010 campaign, Carroll said she devised a plan to reach out to black voters with local newspapers, radio and phone calls and that despite the campaign’s objections, she attended a forum in Miami hosted by Bishop Victor Curry, a radio host and prominent voice in Miami’s black community. “The campaign didn’t want it, but I did it anyway,” she writes.

As a result, Carroll writes, Scott got 6 percent of the African-American vote, according to 2010 exit polls, and had she not directed a “minority stealth” campaign, “Scott would have lost the election.”

McKee, a Scott supporter, said in interview that Carroll’s account was true and that she pushed for more outreach to Jewish voters in Broward and Palm Beach in the final weeks of the 2010 race, in which Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink by fewer than 62,000 votes.

Carroll describes Scott as overly controlled by his own staff and lacking in a personal touch, who ignored her birthday and showed no concern after she fainted and struck her head on the floor at a hot Greek church. “Clearly, something was missing there, some ability to make personal connections that he just didn’t have,” Carroll said of Scott.

In a parting shot, here's what Carroll has to say about her successor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who was chosen after a 10-month absence: "The new lieutenant governor is being treated even worse than I was from what I hear. He only has a small staff and he doesn’t have security. They gave him a car to drive himself around in. They haven’t given him much to do."

January 14, 2011

Jeff Kottkamp mulls running for Congress if Connie Mack’s runs for Senate

If Rep. Connie Mack of Fort Myers leaves to run for U.S. Senate, his old friend and former Lt. Gov., Jeff Kottkamp, said he’s “strongly considering” running for Mack's  Congressional seat.

He’d be a fool not to consider a run. In the three-way Republican primary for attorney general, won by Pam Bondi, Kottkamp rolled up his biggest margins in Lee County, which he carried with 67 percent of the vote. He won Collier County to the south with 53 percent and Charlotte to the north with 47 percent of the vote.

“This is my home base and I would expect to be very competitive if we decide to do it,” Kottkamp said. “There are a lot of things that go into these decisions. First of all, we have to wait and see if there’s a vacant seat.”

What else is a consideration?

“With these challenges and the new Constitutional amendments (concerning the drawing of political boundaries),” he said, “it may be right before qualifying before we find out what the districts look like.”

Assuming the district doesn’t change too much (remember, Florida picks up two new congressional seats), Kottkamp looks on paper as if he’ll walk into office. Still, 2012 is ten million years in the future in political years (it’s kinda like dog years with more volatility).

“Connie Mack is weighing all the same things I am about running,” Kottkamp said. “He’s in a safe seat right now. It’s a wonderful district. When he was in the Legislature he always wanted to represent this area. And he jumped at the chance. I can’t blame him.”


November 17, 2010

Citing terrorism threat, Kottkamp seeks FHP escort for b-day trip to Italy

To celebrate his 50th birthday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp took a two-week trip to Italy at his own expense, but he sought help from taxpayers.

Kottkamp wanted the state to pay for 24-hour security from his full-time escort and driver, a captain in the Florida Highway Patrol, which would have cost thousands of dollars.

No way, said the director of the agency that runs the state police.

``This expenditure is not a wise use of the state's resources,'' said Julie Jones, executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in a letter denying Kottkamp's request. More here.


August 24, 2010

A insider's guide to the primary election

Will Rick's voters show up?: Turnout could be a major factor in the GOP primary for governor. Rick Scott is hoping thousands of casual voters flock to the polls to oust career politicians. A lower turnout could benefit Bill McCollum, who has the party infrastructure and a stronger base of supporters. A win by Scott tomorrow would set the GOP establishment on fire -- it would likely end McCollum’s political career and put his supporters on the spot over who they will back in November. Or how many people sick with the fight will pick third-wheel Mike McCalister?

Will Haridopolos get his candidates? A handful of key state Senate primaries could test the power of incoming President Mike Haridopolos. The Merritt Island Republican has weighed in on several races: Jim Norman over Kevin Ambler in Hillsborough’s District 12; Miguel Diaz de la Portilla over Julio Robaina in Miami’s District 36; Ellyn Bogdanoff over Carl Domino in District 25 in Palm Beach; and Lizbeth Benacquisto over Sharon Merchant in the sprawling Fort Myers-to-Palm Beach District 27. The winners in the two Palm Beach seats face tougher races in November, while the other two primary winners will likely capture a Senate seat tomorrow evening.

Will the Greer/GOP-spending scandal hurt candidates? Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer is gone but his connections to candidates and the party’s legacy of spending on credit cards remains. In Pasco County, former Marco Rubio aide Richard Corcoran is getting reminded of his party credit card spending in his state House race (HD45). And in Seminole County, House candidate Jason Brodeur still thinks Jim Greer is the “bees knees.” Will it hurt him?

Continue reading "A insider's guide to the primary election" »

August 23, 2010

On a question of party unity, Bondi ducks

Pam Bondi likes to talk about how she's not a typical politician. But on a softball question about party unity, she showed the deftness of a career pol.

The Buzz put a pro forma question to all three Republican attorney general candidates: If you lose Tuesday night, will you enthusiastically support the duly elected nominee of your party?

"Absolutely," saiid Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. "Certainly," said Kristen Bridges, a spokeswoman for Holly Benson.

But Bondi, who has voiced disgust at the brickbats tossed her way by Kottkamp, won't commit: "I haven't even thought about that. I'm focusing on winning Tuesday night," Bondi said.

-- Steve Bousquet

August 17, 2010

What took ya so long, Holly Benson?

Republican attorney general candidate Holly Benson announced she's endorsing governor candidate and current AG Bill McCollum -- just seven days before the vote.

Why wait so long?

It's not like Benson is Jeb Bush, whose endorsement matters in a statewide race. Upon information and belief (as they say in indictments): McCollum is surging in the polls. And Benson is likely trailing her opponents, prosecutor Pam Bondi and lieutenant governor Jeff Kottkamp. Speculation: Benson is angling not just for a little press, but for a potential spot on McCollum's ticket, which desperately needs a female. 

August 16, 2010

Kottkamp, Dorworth pledge to return Greer money

Disgraced GOP chairman Jim Greer didn't write them letters asking for it but two more top Florida Republicans are returning his contributions Monday.

Following Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp’s attorney general campaign said Monday it would donate the $1,000 the Jim and Lisa Greer gave to the party -- to help repay the money Greer misused, said campaign manager David Bishop. The campaign promised this a month ago -- at the prodding of rival Pam Bondi -- but still hadn't made the donation, campaign finance records show.

Likewise, Rep. Chris Dorworth, a future House speaker seeking re-election, said he would return the $500 his campaign received. "I don't recall getting a campaign contribution from him this cycle, but I haven't looked. If I did, I would return the check," Dorworth said. He received the check the day before the 2009 session at a Florida Chamber fundraiser and later promised to send it back.

Continue reading "Kottkamp, Dorworth pledge to return Greer money" »

August 07, 2010

Jeff Kottkamp travel expenses

The Times/Herald reviewed more than 1,500 e-mails concerning Jeff Kottkamp's travel as lieutenant governor: ...The e-mails don't suggest Kottkamp broke any laws. But they paint a picture of a man with little reluctance to use taxpayer and Republican Party resources to make life more comfortable for himself and his family...


John Stemberger raises questions about Pam Bondi's sex life

Social conservative John Stemberger is endorsing LG. Jeff Kottkamp in the Republican Attorney General's race and he wants everyone to know it in a recent endorsement letter. Stemberger also takes Republican prosecutor Pam Bondi to task (sounds like shes the frontrunner) by noting "personally, she has no children and lives with her 60 year old eye doctor boyfriend."


Stemberger frequently criticizes gay people for their relationships, but singling out a single woman like that is taking on a far broader spectrum of society. It's playing with campaign dynamite: It could blow up on Bondi, or on Stemberger or Kottkamp, who was at pains to explain in a recent debate why his campaign leaked an unflattering email from a Bondi ex.

In a brief text message exchange, Stemberger disputes the notion that he's talking about Bondi's sex life. "Never said anything about sex," he wrote. True. He didn't use the "s" word. But he only talked about the man she was living with and the matter of children, the product of sex. He didn't mention any non-sex related private matters (pets, house size, favorite book, etc.)

"Marital status, children, living arrangements are all matters that tell us something about a person and their life experience. And therefore are relevant," he wrote in a message.

Here's the whole piece:

Continue reading "John Stemberger raises questions about Pam Bondi's sex life" »

July 27, 2010

Somebody out there doesn't like Jeff Kottkamp

Don't be surprised if you start seeing ads attacking Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp from a mysterious group called Floridians for Ethics and Truth in Politics.

Mike Hanna, who worked on former Gov. Jeb Bush's campaigns and served as chief of staff for the Department of Corrections, recently set up the so-called electioneering communications organization and is gunning to knock Kottkamp out of the attorney general's race.

Hanna, you'll recall, led a similar fundraising group called the Coalition to Protect the American Dream to help Gov. Charlie Crist's 2006 Republican primary opponent, Tom Gallagher. The group raised and spent more than $1.5 million.

"I can't stand by and watch the continuation of the Crist administration with Jeff Kottkamp,'' Hanna said. "I think he's ethically unfit to serve as the top lawyer in the state. He and Charlie Crist should be resigning instead of asking for promotions."